N'Keal Harry Remains Confident, Supported After Goal Line Fumble vs. Miami
The New England Patriots were on the verge of going up 21-3 late in the third quarter Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.
Instead, second-year receiver N’Keal Harry fumbled the ball out of the endzone – a giveaway that would eventually lead to a Miami touchdown and two-point conversion that cut New England’s lead to three.
Still, Harry’s teammates were there to pick him up.
“It was a good gesture,” Harry said during Friday's video conference with the media. “As soon as it happened, all of the offense really came up to me, they just told me it was just one play, just to keep my head up and to keep playing.”
Cam Newton, especially, led the charge in backing up the young wideout.
Newton spoke about the fumble in a press conference with the media Wednesday, taking issue with the fact that the fumble was overshadowing what he said was an otherwise good game for Harry.
“Him still being a young player, trying to come into his own, things like that will happen,” Newton said. “You just want it to be minimized as much as possible, but he’s making leaps and strides as everyone would expect him to be. He’s growing up into his best self.”
Newton also said he had played with players like Harry before – young, former early-round pass-catchers such as D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel and Devin Funchess. Harry said he could tell his quarterback had been in a similar role before, and that he was happy to learn from an active and hands-on leader like Newton.
“He just really makes it a point of emphasis just to help me out,” Harry said. “The way he embraces me, the way he takes me under his wing and kind of guides me through everything.”
Outside of Newton’s leadership qualities, Harry also said playing in an offense with a mobile quarterback has put him in a comfortable position early on in the season. Harry’s quarterback for all three of his seasons at Arizona State was Manny Wilkins, who broke 1,000 rushing yards over the course of his collegiate career.
“It’s good to have a mobile quarterback out there,” Harry said. “There’s always a chance of extended plays and stuff like that, so just making sure we stay alive on the routes and know we’re always ready for stuff like that.”
Harry put up career-highs in both receptions and yards Sunday with five and 39, respectively, and his 83.3% catch percentage was his best in a game in which he received more than one target.
If that fumble at the one-yard line had turned into a touchdown, the Patriots would have likely run away with an easy win and Harry would have had the best game of his young career across the board. But even with the added adversity down the stretch, Harry said the ill-timed turnover was a learning moment that will help him moving forward.
“It’s a lesson learned, I’m glad I learned it earlier in the season,” Harry said. “I’ll try to make sure it doesn’t happen again moving forward.”
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