Harrison's personal highlight reel seals Steelers' win
If America didn't know who James Harrison was before Monday night, it does now.
Harrison is more than some guy who replaced Joey Porter at right outside linebacker, more than the guy who bodyslammed a Cleveland Browns' fan who ran onto the field a couple of years ago.
Harrison hit the Baltimore Ravens a lot harder than that misguided fan. Just ask quarterback Steve McNair, running back Willis McGahee and punt returner Ed Reed. They all have the bruises from No. 92 to prove it.
The Steelers extracted their pound of flesh from the Ravens, 38-7, at Heinz Field. It was sweet payback, the best medicine for a team that had its collective heart trampled by the Ravens a year ago.
Harrison played a first half for the ages. It was as good a 30 minutes as a linebacker can play - four tackles, 2 1⁄2 sacks, five hurries, one interception, one pass defensed, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
Making his first start on "Monday Night Football," Harrison personally set up four first-half touchdowns. He was a one-man wrecking crew.
Harrison ended Baltmore's first possession when he sacked McNair for a 12-yard loss, forced a fumble and recovered the fumble at the Ravens' 20.
Three plays later, Ben Roethlisberger tossed the first of his record five first-half touchdown passes for a 7-0 lead.
Doing double duty on the special teams, Harrison tackled Reed so hard that he fumbled. Rookie linebacker Lawrence Timmons recovered, and his return gave the Steelers a first down at the Ravens' 28.
Three plays later, Roethlisberger tossed his second touchdown pass of the game for a 14-0 lead at the 1:48 mark of the first quarter.
For the night, Harrison had 3 1⁄2 sacks and nine tackles.
"He played a spectacular game; it speaks for itself," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said. "The tape is our walking, talking resume. He put it all on tape tonight."
Asked last week if the Steelers' pass rush had lost its steam against Denver and Cincinnati, Harrison replied that situations dictated the linebackers drop into coverage rather than blitz. He proved to be a prophet last night, as the Steelers beefed up their rush against the Ravens.
Harrison was in the backfield and McNair's face far too often for McNair's liking.
In the second quarter, Harrison met up with McNair so quickly that the quarterback was called for intentional grounding.
On Baltimore's next possession, Harrison sacked McNair for a 7-yard loss, forcing a fumble. McGahee made the recovery, only to be tackled by - who else• - Harrison for an additional 10-yard loss.
Following a Baltimore punt, Roethlisberger tossed his fourth touchdown pass for a 28-0 lead.
For his coup de grace, Harrison dropped into coverage the way Porter used to do so well and intercepted McNair as if the pass were intended for him. His 20-yard return set up the Steelers at the Baltimore 44. Five plays later, Roethlisberger recorded touchdown pass No. 5 for a 35-0 lead.
Harrison's performance was phenomenal. He is no longer the 'Other Guy' at right outside linebacker. His highlight-film introduction to a national audience last night changed all of that for good.