Double Trouble: Harris, Woodson Cage Lions


If anyone with a Pro Bowl vote didn't pencil in Al Harris or Charles Woodson to represent the league's elite in Hawaii, chances are they'd rethink that stance after watching Sunday's win versus the Lions.

Though the voting has closed and the Pro Bowl rosters will be revealed on Tuesday afternoon, Harris and Woodson performed as if they wanted to prove that they are as good as any cornerback combo you'll find in the entire league. If that indeed was their goal, it's safe to say the case is now closed.

Of course to Packers fans, that's not a startling revelation. Nor is it anything new to Lions wide receiver Roy Williams, who has faced Harris annually for three seasons now. In fact, Williams makes no bones about just how good he thinks Harris is.

"Everybody asks me who I think the best corner is in the NFL, and Al Harris is the best corner in the NFL," Williams said earlier in the week.

After Sunday's game, it's doubtful Williams changed his mind as Harris held the big-play receiver to just one catch for 11 yards. By unofficial count, quarterback Jon Kitna only threw Harris' way three times. Besides the lone incompletion, Harris also accounted for an interception and a pass defensed.

If Kitna wanted to avoid Harris that's understandable, but obviously he has to throw the ball downfield somewhere. The only problem is that Woodson mans the other side of the field and he's taken advantage of nearly every opportunity he has gotten this season.

In his first season with the Packers, Woodson set a new single-season career high in the third quarter when he grabbed his sixth interception on the year. He also finished with one pass defensed to put him at 21 on the season, tying his career high. Both previous highs came in 1998 when he was a rookie with the Raiders.

Woodson's pick came on a sideline route to Mike Furrey, who never had a chance as Woodson jumped in front of him to make the play.

"I really think he (Kitna) thought we were in Cover-2 the way I jammed the receiver to the outside," Woodson said. "I was really just trying to push him out of bounds, and then I could just turn around and play whatever else was happening. They probably thought I was going to fall off, but then I turned around and I was going to run with the receiver but he threw it right to me."

Besides having Harris forcing more action his way, Woodson also acknowledged that the defensive linemen up front also played a huge role in the secondary's success.

"It all works hand-in-hand," he said. "We all work together. You don't have a good game usually without the other part. Me and Al and all the other corners that get in, we feed off those guys. When we're out there covering well and they get sacks we know we're doing our job and vice versa."

Like Woodson, Harris wasn't hesitant to praise his defensive teammates and was also quick to point out that he had been the beneficiary of some good fortune on his interception in the first quarter.

"It was a lucky play," he said. "I ended up in the right spot and ended up with the ball."

On the play, Harris stepped in front of Williams and deflected the short pass into the air. He juggled it once and then caught it, returning it 34 yards to the Detroit 28-yard line, setting up a field goal that tied the game at 3.

Harris, who explained his respect for Williams' ability earlier in the week, also downplayed the match-up between the two of them.

"It is what it is," he said. "My hat is off to their whole staff. Roy's a great competitor and we'll have many more battles to come."

{sportsad300}Head Coach Mike McCarthy, however, was understandably pleased with another strong effort out of Harris.

"To take their top weapon on offense and shut him down - and the interception that ignited us - I thought that his performance was awesome, among others on defense," McCarthy said. "We had a bunch of individual performances that really stood out, and Al's was definitely one of them."

Without a doubt, Harris is one of the game's top competitors and he admitted that he enjoys the challenge of facing the other team's top weapons on a weekly basis. That type of attitude, along with his steady performance, isn't lost on Woodson either.

And perhaps the greatest part about the Woodson-Harris combination is that the two have formed a strong bond on and off the field and are willing to give credit to each other whenever the opportunity knocks.

"Thanks to Al Harris," Woodson said. "I thank him for being such a great athlete. If anybody around here has a vote for the Pro Bowl, I hope you voted for him because he certainly deserves it."

Despite Harris' strong season, he only has three interceptions, which may or may not garner much attention around the league. But Woodson says that shouldn't be the case.

"A lot of people vote for guys that have been to the Pro Bowl in previous years or have interceptions and what have you," Woodson said. "A lot of people really don't study the game that way to know who's playing well. They just look on TV, see a few clips, and then they base it on that."

And what about Woodson, who has had perhaps his best season as a professional -- does he think he should be invited to play in the Pro Bowl, too?

"No doubt. I don't think there's a better DB in the league, so why not?"

Or maybe no better cornerback tandem.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content