January 16, 2017
James Harrison is pursuing his third Super Bowl ring. (Photo: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The
Pittsburgh Steelers needed a stop, and an old veteran delivered, even if linebacker James Harrison's contribution didn’t quite make it into the box score.
In an 18-16 victory over the
Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday that moved the Steelers one win from playing in Super Bowl LI, it was Pittsburgh’s stand on a two-point try that all but sealed the game.
The Chiefs had just scored a touchdown with 2:47 left to play but still trailed by two. In a bid to tie the score, quarterback
Alex Smith took the snap, looked to his left and fired a pass to tight end Demetrius Harris in the back of the end zone.
Tie game ... if Harrison hadn't penetrated into the backfield, where Kansas City left tackle Eric Fisher brought him down to the turf, drawing a flag.
“That is a holding call I haven’t gotten once in a blue moon,” Harrison told reporters after the game. “I don’t know how it’s not called more often when the guy’s arms are wrapped around me.”
The penalty negated the play and pushed the Chiefs back 10 yards. Smith's subsequent pass to receiver
Jeremy Maclin was swatted away by Steelers safety Sean Davis.
“(I) just read the quarterback,” Davis said after the game. “I saw (Maclin) run a double move and was going up. I figured he was the target, and I made the play.”
Harrison may be the oldest player on Pittsburgh’s roster, but he’s still one of the team’s most important play makers. Sunday, he finished with six tackles (tied for most on the team), one sack, two quarterback hits, and three tackles for loss. His pass rushing presence unsettled Smith and a Chiefs offense that managed just 227 total yards.
“Oh, he was awesome,” defensive end
Stephon Tuitt said of Harrison after the game. “He’s a terror.”
And on a surging Steelers defense that next faces the AFC’s No. 1 seeded
New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, Harrison’s experience and impact could be pivotal in slowing Tom Brady and Co.
“I’m just blessed to have this opportunity,” Harrison said. “To go out there and fight for a championship and hopefully getting that done.”
Lorenzo Reyes on Twitter @LorenzoGReyes