Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher is hardly Superman, but the 2013 No. 1 overall pick has a Kryptonite, all the same. His name is James Harrison, and the New England Patriots just signed him, which means Fisher might need to face off against him for a second time this season.
So, did the Patriots, who will earn the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs with a win over the New York Jets on Sunday, sign Harrison because they could face the No. 4 seed Chiefs in the divisional round of the playoffs? That’s the theory Pro Football Weekly’s Eric Edholm presented Tuesday, and it’s definitely a fun one.
Harrison only played 40 snaps this season with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and 15 of them came in Week 6 against the Chiefs. He had a sack, a QB hit and a hurry against Fisher. The Steelers knew what they were doing by activating and unleashing him in that game.
“It’s always good to have James Harrison when you’re playing Kansas City and let the offensive tackle see him,” Steelers defensive coordinator told reporters in October.
“See him. I’ll leave it at that. You can imagine what might happen.”
There’s a history there.
Harrison had a sack, a QB hit and two hurries in the Steelers’ divisional-round playoff win over the Chiefs last winter. He also drew a holding penalty late in that game on a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the game. The Chiefs failed on their next attempt, and the Steelers won 18-16.
The Patriots were well aware of that penalty. The play was mentioned by Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia on NFL Films’ “Do Your Job 2” special. Patricia knew referee Carl Cheffers’ crew, which was working that playoff game, also was officiating Super Bowl LI. Patricia figured they could draw a hold out of Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews with a similar rush from Patriots defensive end Chris Long. It worked, and the Patriots got their holding penalty.
Harrison also had a QB hit and three hurries during the Steelers’ 43-14 Week 4 win over the Chiefs in 2016.
Obviously the Patriots didn’t just sign Harrison for one potential matchup. The Patriots have holes in their front seven, and Harrison very well could be a better option in New England’s defense than players like Geneo Grissom and Trevor Reilly, who was cut for the veteran free agent addition. But it might have helped their decision to add Harrison knowing they might go up against a player he has absolutely plagued in the past.
The Chiefs beat the Patriots 42-27 in Week 1. That game could have gone differently if Harrison was matched up with Fisher.
Thumbnail photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images