Denver Broncos: Chris Harris Jr. critical of himself


Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. was uncharacteristically beaten — repeatedly — by Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is probably the best in the league at his position…

Watching Chris Harris Jr. give up catch after catch and multiple touchdowns was unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. It was the Antonio Brown ‘show’ on Sunday afternoon in Pittsburgh after the Broncos got out to an early 27-13 lead. Brown and the Steelers came all the way back to defeat Denver, and it was thanks large in part to a very off day by Harris.

This is a guy who doesn’t miss tackles. He doesn’t allow receivers to get separation. He straight up doesn’t allow touchdowns.

That was not the guy we all saw on Sunday, and he was his harshest critic after the game.

“Shoot, we just played straight man-to-man. One-on-one, that’s what we do. I just lost. It’s just the way it is. It happens to the best of them. I’ve just got to regroup and come back next week even better.”

Harris said he was thinking about the game on the way home from Pittsburgh, trying to think about how he could have played better and what he could have done differently…

“Definitely. You always want to play better. Really he had a lot of short catches. I just had to make the tackles. I didn’t make the tackles. I’m usually a guy that never misses tackles, so I just wasn’t myself yesterday. I’ve got to play a lot better, especially when the team needs me the most.”

In the grand scheme of things, this game was an outlier as far as Harris is concerned. He’s one of the best cornerbacks in the league and head coach Gary Kubiak acknowledged that. He also said he knows who he’d be voting for in the MVP race this season.

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“Yeah, that’s why he’s a great player,” Kubiak said of Harris. “That’s why he’s a Pro Bowl player, and I think there is even more to come down the road for him. I think he played one of the top players in football, if not the top player. I know who I’d be voting for right now for MVP [Steelers WR Antonio Brown]. Watching that kid play—I mean, he’s something else, does it all day, plays extremely hard the entire game. That was a tough matchup. Chris expects a lot out of himself. He’s very hard on himself, and he’ll learn from that, grow from that and continue to be an even better player than he’s been. He’s been exceptional.”

Exceptional would be putting it pretty lightly at this point. Brown is other-wordly.

So far this season, he’s set a personal best in 40-plus yard plays. He’s got 116 catches just a year after posting 129. He’s on pace to break his own single-season yardage record and while he might not match his 13 touchdowns from a year ago, he’s certainly put himself in a position to at least be considered the league’s most valuable player.

Harris learned that the hard way, and I truly believe that will make him better in the long run. There’s nothing wrong with having a bad day, but now, the Broncos really can’t afford it. His wake-up call might have come just in the nick of time.