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Harrison, Richardson Loom Large on Jets’ D-Line

Posted Aug 24, 2013

On the first play of the night for Eli Manning and the Giants offense, RB David Wilson took a handoff and ran to the left. Thirteen seconds later, he was crossing into the end zone for an 84-yard touchdown run. Just like that, we were in the hole, down 7-0.

But the defense threw the shovels down and stopped digging any deeper, eventually leading the Jets to their 24-21 overtime triumph at MetLife Stadium.

Two men clogging up the middle — Damon “Snacks” Harrison and Sheldon Richardson — were major contributors in tonight’s defensive effort. While Richardson was eventually projected to be a key contributor along the D-line after the Jets selected him with the 13th overall pick of April’s draft, Harrison has been thrown into a starting role for the second consecutive week as DT Kenrick Ellis continues to rest with a back injury.

“Consistency is something that I’ve been trying to work on,” Harrison said. “I’ve been having some up-and-down weeks. For the first time in a long time, I wasn’t worried about much. Tonight I just let it go.”

Richardson entered the Week 3 MetLife Trophy battle with a team-high 14 tackles. The next-closest Jet, Dawan Landry, came in with eight. Snacks’ five tackles, meanwhile, trailed only Sheldon among Green & White defensive linemen.

Harrison continued to take advantage of his increased opportunities with a pair of key plays in each of the first two quarters, while the rookie out of Missouri showed once again why we were so excited to obtain him with our second pick of the first round.

On the Giants’ second drive of the night, Harrison powered his way into the backfield and stopped Wilson in his tracks before a teammate helped finish the play for a 2-yard loss. Two drives later, Demario Davis’ blitz pressured Eli Manning on a screen pass to the running back, leading to a tackle for loss on the play for the second-year man out of William Penn.

In the second quarter, Snacks came up with two third-down stops of RB Andre Brown. The first tackle for no gain forced a Giants punt.

“It was good penetration by Muhammad [Wilkerson] and Sheldon on the play,” he explained, “which forced it to come back in the middle and it just so happened I was in the right place at the right time.”

His second tackle of Brown at the line was at a crucial moment in the game. On third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, the Giants' fifth-year RB tried to carry the ball up the middle for the score, but Harrison wasn’t having any of it and stuffed him for no gain. The G-Men failed to come away with any points after a fourth-down incompletion.

“Everybody just did a good job of hunkering down and forcing him to come back to me, and I was just the cleanup guy," Harrison said.

Not to be outdone, Sheldon Richardson beefed up his own preseason highlight reel with a pair of impressive plays. He recorded his first NFL sack, a 7-yard loss of Manning that contributed to a three-and-out by the Big Blue in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the 6’3”, 294-pound defensive lineman showed off his athleticism again, this time running toward Manning with his hands up and forcing an incompletion by the two-time Super Bowl MVP quarterback.

The two young DTs combined for ten tackles in the first half of tonight’s New York-New York matchup. According to pressbox statistics, Harrison's seven tackles and Richardson’s two QB hits were both team highs.

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