You might not be the biggest fan of James Harrison right now and you’ve probably heard this story a time or two. But with this being Super Bowl Sunday, let’s revisit one of the greatest plays in its history: Harrison’s half-ending pick six against the Arizona Cardinals a decade ago.
The NFL on CBS tweeted out a clip of Harrison explaining what happened on the play. It was a designed all-out blitz, forcing Kurt Warner to get the ball out immediately or risk taking a sack, out of timeouts and only 18 seconds remaining. But Harrison knew Warner would be throwing the ball as soon as possible so at the last second, he dropped back into coverage to take away any potential slant.
“The play was an all out blitz and it called for me to blitz,” Harrison said in the clip you’ll see at the end of this article.
And that’s what happened. Warner took the bait, got the ball out hot, with Harrison sitting in front of the throw.
“I’m looking at him and I think he’s looking at me. I’m like, ‘he’s not about to throw it.’ Then I see his arm move and I’m like, ‘he’s about to throw it. Oh my God he just threw it.'”
Harrison said as soon as he picked it, the first thing he saw was open grass and a feeling he was about to score. The return though became much more interesting than a straight runback. Incredible blocks from players like Deshea Townsend, Brett Keisel, LaMarr Woodley and at the very end, Ryan Clark, allowed Harrison huff and puff his way into the end zone. During practice that week, Mike Tomlin made special mention of throwing blocks on any turnover, a coaching point that clearly paid off in-game.
“It was one of those situations where the coach is on the sidelines and as the play is going he’s, ‘oh no he didn’t blitz! Oh my god. Oh yeah, yeah, yeah!’ It was one of those situations.”
For my money and probably yours too, easily the greatest defensive play in Super Bowl history. I would say best play ever, and maybe it is, but in that game alone, Santonio Holmes’ touchdown catch arguably tops it.
Check out the entire clip here.
James Harrison’s interception return in Super Bowl XLIII was never supposed to happen. He breaks down how he turned an instinct into a touchdown. pic.twitter.com/TY1eMwT1iA
— NFLonCBS (@NFLonCBS) February 3, 2019