By Teresa Varley
Linebacker James Harrison has been coming up big for the Steelers all season and that continued on Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.
Harrison created havoc for Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, sacking him and forcing a fumble in the end zone early in the second quarter. Chargers tackle Marcus McNeil recovered the fumble in the end zone, but Harrison was right there and tackled him for a safety.
"James Harrison continues to make splash play after splash play for us," said head coach Mike Tomlin. "He is one of the main reasons that we were successful (Sunday)."
Later in the second quarter, with the Chargers driving, Harrison intercepted Rivers at the Steelers 10-yard line.
"Actually, I didn't think he was going to throw it considering that I was already out there and (Antonio) Gates wasn't too far away from me," said Harrison. "I thought he would throw it a little wider, but he threw it straight to me, so I did what any of our linebackers would have done – catch it and take off."
Harrison returned the interception 33 yards and put the Steelers in position for a field goal drive that cut the Chargers lead to 7-5 going into halftime.
"First of all, he is just a great player and he has a great work ethic," said Tomlin of Harrison. "I think that his stature works in his favor. He is not a small guy; he is a short guy. I think that his advantage is a game of pad level. He can turn the corner and he has enough power to run through and lean through contact.
"He is just a really good football player. Take nothing away from what he does and what he is willing to do to put himself in a position to have performances like he had (Sunday). His work ethic is second-to-none."
Harrison, who currently leads the Steelers with 12 sacks, had a tough road to get to where he is today after coming in as a rookie free agent and being cut several times. The way he has battled and his play makes a huge impact on his teammates.
"I really can't say enough about the guy," said linebacker James Farrior. "I got a lot of respect for the guy, not for what he's doing now but where he came from. He started out at the bottom. He was a rookie free agent when he first got here. He got cut three times, went to a couple of different teams, came back and stuck with it.
"You can just see in his eyes the determination he plays with. I think he holds that in the back of his head, all the stuff he went through to get to this point."