FOXBORO, Mass. — Ryan Tannehill should learn to stay far away from Duron Harmon.
The New England Patriots safety has picked off the Miami Dolphins quarterback three times in five games. Harmon had an incredible diving interception and three pass breakups Thursday night in the Patriots’ 36-7 win over the Dolphins, and his play became increasingly better as the game went along.
“I had a good feel for the quarterback toward the end of the game,” Harmon said. “Just reading him, getting good breaks on him.”
Late-game heroics are nothing new for Harmon, whom I dubbed “The Closer” last month because of his ability to put away games late with turnovers. Harmon has seven career interceptions, and five of them have come in the fourth quarter. All seven of Harmon’s picks have come when the Patriots have the lead. Getting a good feel for the quarterback through the first three quarters certainly helps late.
“It happens — if we get up on teams, it helps, because that’s just when they have to pass the ball,” Harmon said. “You get more reads on them, so you get more comfortable, see where he’s going, especially when our defensive front is getting pressure on him like that, it makes it easier to read him, because he can’t sit back there and look off. He has to go to his reads right then and right now.”
Harmon laughed when asked if he’s ever gotten his hands on four passes as a defensive back.
“I don’t think ever,” Harmon said. “The bad thing was, I couldn’t get all of them down. That would have been one helluva day to have four interceptions, but being around the ball makes me excited, because I just know if I keep playing the way I’m playing, I’m going to have more opportunities, and I’ll be ready for those opportunities.”
Harmon certainly could have had another interception with 3:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Tannehill heaved a pass into the end zone toward tight end Jordan Cameron. Harmon jumped up for the ball and got his hands on it, but Patriots cornerback Justin Coleman knocked it away.
“I was a little upset (at not making the interception), but he was just trying to make a play, too,” Harmon said. “I’m happy he was there, man, because if I wouldn’t have caught it, you never know what would have happened. He was just trying to make a play, too. That was both of us trying to attack the ball.”
Harmon has had a breakthrough season as the Patriots’ primary nickel defensive back, patrolling the deep half of the field while starting free safety Devin McCourty plays near the line of scrimmage. Harmon already has three interceptions on the season with four pass breakups, and the third-year pro has received high praise from head coach Bill Belichick for his range.
Harmon has found a way to stand out among a crowded group of safeties on the Patriots’ roster. After Wednesday’s transactions, the Patriots now have 10 safeties between their 53-man roster and practice squad, but Harmon’s role is fully entrenched, thanks to his high level of play.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images
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