What does it say about this Pittsburgh Steelers defense that the 36-year-old James Harrison is one of its best assets, after having been retired about a month and a half ago?
Not that that is to take anything away from the success that the veteran has been able to find over the course of the last several games, which is something that the Steelers badly needed, particularly in response to the loss of Jarvis Jones.
While he may not have logged any more sacks last week against Michael Vick and the New York Jets, he did see a season-high in percentage of defensive snaps played. Most of that came against the run.
Although he had a near miss or two when it came to the perimeter plays, he was his old self with anything coming at him, and he also offered a little something in the pass rush as well.
While Arthur Moats continued to be the starter, the Steelers rotated in Harrison robustly on the Jets’ opening drive, as it proved to be a long one. He squared off with Chris Ivory in a base defense look here from the Steelers’ 30-yard line.
The offensive line left him unblocked as they blocked down to the right, with Ivory coming in behind, but Harrison showed good backside pursuit once it was clear the back was not going to cut it back, and he dragged Ivory down from behind after a three-yard gain.
Toward the end of that opening drive, he showed good attacking instincts, coming after Vick as he blew past the running back, nearly getting a hand around his ankle, but the veteran quarterback proved too elusive in this instance. Still, he forced Vick to improvise and he was merely able to scramble back to near the line of scrimmage because of Harrison’s disruption.
As we skip ahead to the start of the Jets’ first possession in the second half, we see New York attack the right side with a pair of blocking tight ends. Harrison drew the assignment of the interior tight end, Jeff Cumberland. The outside linebacker was able to stack against the tight end and shed as Ivory approached, grabbing hold of his legs and pulling him down for no gain in vintage Harrison form.
That drive proved to be another lengthy one, but Harrison at least helped keep it out of the end zone with the Jets at the 11-yard line. On second down, he got around the left tackle and got a hit on Vick, forcing him into an errant throw.
Rookie tight end Jace Amaro didn’t fare any better trying to block Harrison in the fourth quarter. Amaro tried to reach block on a run to the right, but the old linebacker beat him inside and blew up the running back for a loss of a yard.