Chris Harris (center) celebrates his continued status as Joe Flacco
's worst nightmare. (AP/Joe Mahoney)
Joe Flacco must be pretty tired of Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris right about now. With 11:47 left in the first half of the 2013 season opener, the Baltimore Ravens quarterback, who hadn't thrown an interception since Week 15 of the 2012 season, threw one to Harris ... who just happened to be the last guy to pick off a Flacco pass.
This interception came on a pass to receiver Brandon Stokley, who ran a quick in-and-up, but Harris jumped the route and made the grab. Peyton Manning threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Julius Thomas on the very next play, tying the game at 7-7.
Flacco's last pick came with 15 seconds left in the first half of Denver's 34-17 win over the Ravens on Dec. 16. Flacco was trying to hit Anquan Boldin on a quick outside pass from a combo route near the goal line, but Harris read it, jumped the route, and was off to the races for a 98-yard pick-six. And it could have been worse for Flacco -- Harris dropped an interception in overtime of the Ravens' 38-35 divisional playoff win last season, another case where he timed a Flacco throw and nearly ended a drive on a slant to Anquan Boldin.
“They ran the same play that I dropped in the playoffs last year, in overtime, and I just knew if I got the same play I had to make a play on it," Harris remembered after the game. "Luckily, it came back and I made a play on it.”
Champ Bailey sat out of this game with a foot injury, which made Harris the team's best cornerback on the field. He was one of the league's better slot corners in 2012, and his ability to clamp down and read route concepts is a clear attribute -- as Flacco would attest.
“I’m treating it just like another game," Harris said of the opener on Tuesday. "It’s the Ravens, it’s the defending champs, of course we know that. We know the magnitude of this game but I turn into a different person regardless of who we play. I treat it the same and that’s how I stay even keel. I try to keep it even keel and that’s how I play.”
Flacco's pickless streak started the next week against the New York Giants, and continued through one of the most amazing playoff runs any quarterbacks ever had. In four postseason games, he threw for 11 touchdowns and no picks on 126 attempts. Only Joe Montana (1989) ever had such a postseason.
And if Chris Harris wasn't in the NFL, there's no telling how much better Flacco would be.