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JUDGE: Harrison's homecoming humbles Eagles

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Clark Judge

 
   
 

PHILADELPHIA

wasn't just good on Sunday. He was perfect. You can't play quarterback and have a higher passer rating than 158.3, and that's where Manning was against Philadelphia. Three touchdowns. Twenty-three passes. Five incompletions. Three-hundred-nineteen yards. Perfect. But as good as he was — and, let's face it, he couldn't have been better — it wasn't Manning who was the surprise here. It was teammate , who sometimes looks like one of the game's best wide receivers and who sometimes doesn't. In Indianapolis' 35-13 hammering of the , he definitely looked like he was. Not only did he have a season-best two touchdown catches — including a 57-yarder — he had 137 yards, too, and that's not supposed to happen. Not only because it happened at the expense of the league's best secondary. But because Harrison isn't the receiver on the road that he is at home. But then again, he was at home. Harrison grew up in Philadelphia, played at Roman Catholic High and participates in several local events, including Thanksgiving turkey donations to inner-city families. Twice before Sunday he faced the , and in each game he scored once. But that's not what matters here. This is: Of Harrison's last 13 100-yard receiving games, 12 were at the RCA Dome. The lone exception was a 110-yard effort at Houston in September, and, let's be honest, that shouldn't count. Let me put it another way. Of Harrison's last 22 games at home 16 ended with him having 100 or more yards in receptions; of his last 15 games on the road, one — that 23-3 win over Houston in September — had the same result. Then came Sunday, bloody Sunday, and Harrison didn't just blister the NFL's second-ranked defense. He beat Pro Bowl cornerback , locked up on Harrison for most of the afternoon. "It was a long day, man," Vincent said. "It was like a track meet, with me chasing." Vincent usually wins those races. Until Sunday only one receiver — Tennessee's — torched the this year for 100 yards, and that was in the season opener. But Sunday was one of those rarest of afternoons, when not only Harrison, but also had 100 yards in receptions. And a rookie running back whom Detroit rejected, someone named , had 114 yards rushing and two touchdowns. And, of course, there was Manning. "It was a long day," Vincent said. It was longer for him than most because of his opponent. He covered Harrison in man-to-man situations and watched helplessly as he beat safety — the best in the business — when the were in zone coverage early in the second half. It was that kind of a day. Harrison beat them when they were in single coverage; he beat them when they were in double coverage. "It wasn't Vincent," Harrison said. "We took what we could, and sometimes he just happened to be there." He was there for Harrison's first catch, a first-down reception. He was there for the second one, too, which produced another first down. Then there was that 57-yard TD, made possible when a safety blitz just missed getting to Manning. Vincent later said he considered Harrison and San Francisco's the two top wide receivers in the game, and Harrison's numbers offer a solid defense: Of his six catches, five were for first downs; two were for touchdowns. "Marvin's a tremendous competitor," Vincent said. "He's complete. But Marvin's been doing this for years. He's not a guy you're going to stop. You just try to contain him and keep him from having one of those big days. When he has one of those big days you see the results." It was Harrison's first catch that signaled what was ahead for Philadelphia. With the blitzing Manning, Harrison was left in single coverage with Vincent and threw a slant-and-go at him. Manning released the ball just before he was hit and the ball caught Harrison in stride, a couple of steps ahead of Vincent. "Without pressure, no one can cover him," Vincent said. Oh, yeah, pressure. There was none on Manning. When Philadelphia blitzed, he always had an answer. He checked out to a call that got the ball to Harrison, Wayne, Mungro, someone, anyone who was open. When he wasn't blitzed, he picked the apart — with Harrison and Wayne the most frequent targets. "Marvin has tremendous balance, great quickness, great acceleration and he knows how to get open," Vincent said. "But, again, when you have Peyton back there and you're picking up the blitz ... and you have him one-on-one ... it's just a matter of time before he gets open. "The second half I told myself, 'I'm going to change the look, no matter if we're in zone or man. I'm going to come up and squeeze the routes.' So I pressed a little more, and had a lot more success when I was in his face. But, like I said, when Peyton's back there picking up the blitzes and scanning the blitzes, there's nothing you can do. It's just pitch and catch." Ah, yes, home. Ask . There's no place like it. Senior writer Clark Judge can be reached at his e-mail address, cjudge@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Titans, Colts, Eagles, 49ers, Derrick Mason, Reggie Wayne, Peyton Manning, Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Terrell Owens, James Mungro

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