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Rejuvenated James Harrison Rediscovering Pass Rushing Flare

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker James Harrison was retired in September. He now leads the team in sacks.

The veteran pass rusher has notched a pair of sacks in back-to-back games now after failing to record one in his first four games back. The pass rushing production has come as he has played himself into football shape.

He paced the Steelers in pressure last night against the Baltimore Ravens, as Lawrence Timmons and Arthur Moats also logged sacks. Harrison also pressured Joe Flacco into throwing an interception to Jason Worilds.

He also logged two sacks the week before in an evening game against Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts. In doing so in consecutive games, he became the only player age 36 or older two string together multiple-sack games.

It was also the 16th such game in his career with Steelers, tying him with longtime pass rushing partner LaMarr Woodley for the second-most in franchise history behind Jason Gildon, who is the Steelers’ all-time sacks leader.

Harrison and Woodley, of course, were a highly prolific duo for a short period of time. They established a franchise record in 2008 when Harrison recorded 16 sacks—most in franchise history. With Woodley’s 10, the 26 combined were the most by a duo in team history.

From 2008 to 2010, each logged at least 10 sacks, as the pass rushing pair helped the Steelers reach the Super Bowl twice in that span. Since then, Woodley’s career became marred by injury, and Harrison, too, slowed down, before he was finally cut in 2012.

He spent the 2013 season with the division rival Cincinnati Bengals, playing out of position, but he’s now back where he belongs for one last hurrah, and he’s most certainly proving to be far more than just a charity case.

The Steelers needed him when starter Jarvis Jones went down with a wrist injury in Week Three that required surgery. The injury occurred on his second sack of the season, on which he forced a fumble that the Steelers recovered. He will miss at least two more games.

Meanwhile, the keys to the starting position were handed over to the free agent Moats, who is coming off a good game of his own. He notched his second sack of the year, as previously mentioned, and also forced a fumble, which helped swing the momentum of the game around in the Steelers’ favor.

Moats and Harrison have been splitting the reps at Jones’ right outside linebacker spot for the past six games, a position that Harrison once manned—better than anyone else ever had in a Steelers uniform—from 2007 to 2012, during which he accumulated 60 sacks.

With Moats as the starter, he has been logging the lion’s share of the time. Harrison, however, has been averaging about 30 snaps per game, and it would be hard to deny that he has received the most attention over on the right side.

In the beginning, a lot of that attention was no doubt part curiosity and part nostalgia, but as he’s been demonstrating lately, there are attention-grabbing sacks left in the holster as he looks to end his career in a more fitting way this time.

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