The Oakland Raiders escaped with the 26-24 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday Night Football in Week 10 thanks in part to the efforts of safety Erik Harris.
It did not take Harris very long to become a thorn in the side of Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers after picking him off in each of the Chargers’ opening two possessions. After returning the first one for 59 yards to set up a 40-yard field goal, he managed to take the second one all the way back himself to give the Raiders a 10-0 lead essentially all by himself.
It was quite the breakout performance from a player that has had most of his contributions in Oakland come on special teams. Harris seems to be happy that playing in his role helped put him in a position to capitalize.
He admits the scheme on defense and some error from Rivers helped with the big day, via Josh Schrock of NBC Sports:
“I was really just doing my job,” Harris said of the pick-six after the Raiders’ thrilling 26-24 win. “I was messing around with Phil a little bit, showing him one thing and then came back down. Just kind of read off him and was where I’m supposed to be. The first pick he put a little too much air into it and kind of gifted it into my lap. I like gifts.”
Harris continued to credit his teammates for helping him make a play happen:
“It was pretty exciting and a special moment for this team, special moment for my teammates,” Harris said. “It’s a credit to them for just putting me in a position and trusting those guys.”
Despite Harris’ modesty, there is no question that his performance played a significant role in helping them stay in the win column this week to move to 5-4 in the 2019 NFL season. He ultimately finished the game with two tackles, three pass breakups, and, of course, the two interceptions.
Regardless, there is certainly plenty of truth to Harris’ comments. The secondary enjoyed quite a day after safety Karl Joseph was able to secure the game-winning interception on the Chargers’ final drive of the game.
Harris’ emergence could not have come at a better time with head coach Jon Gruden admittedly concerned about the health of Joseph and cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. Their potential absences would undoubtedly leave a huge void in the secondary, which means the Raiders are hoping that Harris’ best days are still ahead of him.