For an undrafted linebacker who started only eight games in his first four NFL seasons, James Harrison accomplished plenty during his 15-year NFL career.
He went to five Pro Bowls, recorded 84.5 regular-season sacks, forced 34 fumbles, was named a first-team All-Pro twice, won a Defensive Player of the Year award and won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
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One thing Harrison didn”t do much of is score. In fact, he carried the ball into the opposing end zone only twice in his 215 career regular-season and playoff games.
Editor”s note: This is the third installment in B/R”s “Where Are They Now?” series, which profiles some former NFL postseason greats, their historic moments and what they”re doing now.
Part 1: Freddie Mitchell
Part 2: Willie Roaf
Part 3: James Harrison
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Part 4: Jacoby Jones (1/31)
Part 5: Tracy Porter (2/1)
Part 6: Coming soon
One of those two touchdowns remains the longest play from scrimmage in Super Bowl history.
Said play—a jaw-dropping 100-yard interception return as the first half expired in Super Bowl XLIII—might have been the difference between a Steelers victory and a Steelers loss. After all, Pittsburgh beat the Arizona Cardinals by only four points that night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, and Harrison”s pick-six likely represented at least a 10-point swing.
Friday, Feb. 1, will mark the 10-year anniversary of Harrison”s signature moment, but the now-retired 40-year-old can recall the details like it happened yesterday. In a recent conversation with Bleacher Report, he did so while noting none of it would have happened had he not decided to freelance.
“The defensive call was an all-out blitz,” he remembered. “So we were supposed to blitz, but that whole night we were getting there just a step too late. We”d get there,
Specifically, 15.2 seconds of history.
That”s how long it took Harrison to rumble, stumble and do everything in his power not to fumble en route to the opposite end zone. And because the snap came with 18 seconds remaining, that left no margin for error. Had Harrison not made it to the end zone, the Steelers would have had to settle for a field-goal attempt.
Prior to the pick, it looked like the Cardinals, who trailed 10-0 earlier in the second quarter, were bound to steal both the lead and the momentum just before halftime. Down 10-7 following an interception of their own, Warner had moved them 33 yards to the Pittsburgh 1-yard line in the waning seconds of the half.
Warner had been sacked only once despite facing near-constant pressure. He had been getting rid of the ball quickly on a lot of short passes, so—despite the call for a blitz—Harrison decided it was time to drop back into coverage.