PITTSBURGH — Damien Harris felt for Gunner Olszewski on Sunday. But that didn’t stop him from ribbing his former teammate after the Patriots’ win over the Steelers.
Harris scored what proved to be the deciding touchdown after Olszewski, a former New England return man, muffed a punt deep in Pittsburgh territory late in the third quarter. Undrafted Patriots rookie Brenden Schooler recovered the ball, Harris found the end zone three plays later and the Patriots went on to win 17-14 at Acrisure Stadium.
It was an unfortunate and costly error for Olszewski, who said earlier in the week that he was motivated to “show out” against the Patriots after they chose not to tender him as a restricted free agent this past offseason.
Harris had some playful trash talk for his friend when they met after the game.
“When it happened, I told myself I’ll feel sorry for him after the game,” Harris said in his postgame news conference. “So I guess now’s the time for me to feel bad for him. It’s a tough break, but that’s the way the game goes. Sometimes the ball just doesn’t bounce your way, and fortunately for us, it bounced our way.
“I told him after the game, I don’t want a touchdown that easy, but if he’s going to give it to me, I’ll take it. But Gunner obviously is a dear friend of mine.”
Olszewski spent his first three NFL seasons with the Patriots, arriving in New England as part of a 2019 rookie class that also featured Harris. In 2020, he led the NFL in punt-return yards and punt-return average and was voted first-team All-Pro. He signed with the Steelers in March, landing a two-year, $4.2 million contract in free agency.
The 25-year-old accepted responsibility for Sunday’s miscue.
“I just dropped it,” Olszewski said, via The Boston Globe. “That’s on me. Game that tight, you can’t have mistakes like that.”