Any reasonably-minded follower of the NFL would look at the stats of these two players:
- Five tackles, 1 INT
- Eight tackles, 3 sacks
And quickly deduce which player had a better game.
Harrison was listed as a nominee on the league's Player of the Week press release, distributed Wednesday.
Pittsburgh linebacker JAMES HARRISON, who posted eight tackles and three sacks in a 23-20 loss to Baltimore.
They left off a key forced fumble. Certainly a bit more important than the 1 pass defensed they listed for Harris. Seems like there's plenty of room to list the fact the Steelers lost, though.
No other player had a mention of whether his team won or lost the game. It's also fair to point out reports have indicated Harrison is likely to be assessed a fine for some alleged infraction of the rules that wasn't penalized in that loss.
It's reasonable to suggest the most valuable player over the course of a season probably should come from a team that wins more often than it loses (although some would dispute that as well). However, the best player on one side of the ball in any given game most certainly does not have to come from the winning team. Winning or losing has nothing to do with the fact Harrison had eight solo stops, three sacks, a forced fumble and six pressures.
While individual accolades pale in comparison to team goals, it's the league's decision to give weekly individual awards, and should take that responsibility seriously, and within proper context.
He made life miserable for Ravens QB Joe Flacco, which is his job. It's difficult to ignore the numbers (ProFootballFocus gave Harrison a 5.5 grade, which is among the highest they'll ever give to an outside linebacker), and because of that, it seems reasonable to question the credibility of Harris's award.
For the record, Miami's Kevin Burnett had 12 tackles and 1.5 sacks in a winning effort.
There's no point in demanding a reason in this foul-up, but if the league was upset with Harrison not being on the field the last four weeks (and the fact he missed four games because of a helmet-to-helmet hit that wasn't penalized or fined), it certainly doesn't seem like it.
He comes back, completely whips Baltimore's offensive line, and plays second-fiddle (maybe more) to a player who put up far fewer production numbers.
That, coupled with the preposterous $40,000 fine on FS Ryan Clark (and Harrison's alleged impending fine), the league is sending a clear Anti-Steelers message.