By Rich Kurtzman
Chris Harris, CB #25
Weight: 190 pounds
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
College: Kansas University
Experience: 2 years
The NFL’s best team?
The answer may be the Denver Broncos.
Denver is riding a Rocky Mountain high nine-game winning streak, and while it’s taken all three phases of the team playing well to achieve the league’s longest win streak, the defense is due most of the credit. During the streak, the Broncos have given up a mere 74.8 yards per game on the ground, including a miniscule 38 yards to the remarkable Ray Rice Sunday.
That defense also forced three fumbles, recovering one, and the interception Chris Harris snagged out of the air was the turning point of the contest.
With the Broncos up 10-0, Baltimore was driving and threatening to put up their first points of the game. Joe Flacco dropped back and stared down receiver Anquan Boldin, threw the ball in his direction on an out route and Harris jumped in front, stealing the ball and racing down the sideline 98 yards for a touchdown. The score put Denver up 17-0, stole the momentum from Baltimore and gave it all to Denver. That was all shown when Flacco tried to unsuccessfully run down Harris before he scored, face-planting in the turf and laying there for a second before walking off the field with his head hung low. Flacco and the Ravens were broken with that profound play by Harris; they couldn’t bounce back until the fourth quarter when the Broncos were already in complete control at 31-3.
It’s not just his play in this week’s game that has made Harris a sensation though; he’s been great for the team for the last two seasons.
Denver discovered the four-year Kansas player in 2011, picking him up after the draft and he’s paid off ever since. Harris played mostly nickelback for the Broncos in 2011, recording 65 tackles while defending six passes and intercepting one as well. He earned three Denver Broncos awards; All Rookie Team, Breakout Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the year, impressing his teammates and coaches alike.
This season, he’s taken on a more prominent role, starting at cornerback due to Tracy Porter’s injury and flourished there. Harris has racked up 51 tackles, 11 passes defended, three sacks, three interceptions and two touchdowns so far. The other pick-six came as the game-clincher late in the fourth quarter of the amazing comeback against the Chargers in San Diego that catapulted the Broncos on this nine-game winning streak.
He’s quietly been one of the Broncos defensive stars, receiving much less admiration than he’s due.
No doubt about it, Chris Harris has made an impact with this Denver team that is prime to not only make the playoffs, but do damage once there. While very young, he possesses a high football IQ, understands big-game situations and doesn’t shy away from making the game-changing play when needed.
If he can continue to play at this high level, Harris may just turn into the Broncos starting cornerback for years to come.
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Rich Kurtzman is a Denver native, Colorado State University alumnus, sports nerd, athletics enthusiast, and competition junkie. Currently writing for a multitude of websites while working on books, one on the history of the Denver Broncos and Mile High Stadium. Find more of Rich’s Denver Broncos pieces on Examiner.com.