It was quite the debut performance for defensive tackle Damon Harrison as a Detroit Lion on Sunday. The Lions lost to the Seahawks 28-14, but Harrison recorded seven solo tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack. He’s the first defensive tackle in franchise history to record that stat line.
Consider this: With Harrison on the field, Seattle rushed 26 times for 83 yards. That’s an average of just 3.2 yards per carry. With Harrison on the sideline, Seattle gained 84 yards on 15 attempts, for an average of 5.6 yards per attempt. Seattle had 15 runs of two yards or less with Harrison manning the middle of Detroit’s defensive front.
His play, and his impact on the defense, is the focus of this week’s Film Review.
The first two plays of the game on defense for the Lions were run without Harrison in the game. Seattle ran for nine and six yards, respectively, to open the contest.
Harrison enters the lineup on the third play of the game, a 1st and 10 play, and immediately shows what his impact can be.
This is a run play to the left. Harrison is able to shed the block of center Justin Britt and is right in the hole where Seattle running back Chris Carson wants to one-cut through. Harrison forces Carson to the cut farther right, and into the hands of lineman Da’Shawn Hand and linebacker Jarrad Davis for a one-yard gain.
The very next play we’ll see Harrison get his first tackle as a Lion. Here he shows great quickness from the three-technique spot for a man who weighs 355 pounds. He splits between guard D.J. Fluker and tackle Germain Ifedi, takes on the pulling left guard J.R. Sweezy, sheds Sweezy, and makes the tackle on running back Mike Davis for a two-yard gain.
Later in the second quarter, we see how the attention Harrison starts to get from Seattle double teams opens things up for other Lions defenders to make plays.
Seattle runs to the left on a 1st and 10 play. They double team Harrison with Justin Britt and Fluker. The double team allows Davis to run free behind it unblocked to make a tackle on Carson for just a one-yard gain.
Fast forward to the second half. The Lions need a key goal line stop midway through the third quarter trailing 21-7. Seattle has 3rd and goal from the one-yard line, and it’s Harrison who comes up with the big stop. He’s two-gaping on this play, and uses his strong hands to keep Fluker off of him. He reads the cut from Carson, sheds Fluker, and makes the play in the hole shy of the goal line.
Harrison isn’t just a run stuffer. His ability to penetrate and play in an opponent’s backfield also shows up in the pass game, as it did Sunday, when Harrison recorded a sack of Wilson.
Seattle is facing a 2nd and 8 midway through the fourth quarter. At the snap, Harrison puts a terrific swim move on Britt to turn a would-be double team into a one-on-one block between Harrison and Fluker. Harrison is so strong he literally bull rushes Fluker back 10 yards and finds himself right in Wilson’s lap.
This final play shows off just how strong and athletic Harrison is. He’s able to keep Britt off of him with just his left arm on a 3rd and 3 play late, and makes the tackle on Davis for a two-yard gain. Britt is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, for anyone wondering.
Harrison showed in just one game the impact he can have on the Lions’ defense. He did his part Sunday, the other 10 guys around him – and 11 when he’s not on the field – need to up their games if the defense is going to be better than 19th overall, 25th in scoring and 31st against the run moving forward.