Harrison was hitting on all cylinders
FOXBOROUGH -- Patriots safety Rodney Harrison had plenty of motivation for yesterday's 12-0 victory over Miami. And Harrison not only settled his dispute with Dolphins tight end Randy McMichael, he also caused a fumble that stifled Miami's best chance to rally late in the third quarter.
McMichael had accused Harrison of gratuitousness and overindulgence -- also known as cheap shots -- after the Patriots' 19-13 overtime win in Miami Oct. 19. Harrison said he confronted McMichael at Gillette Stadium yesterday.
"That definitely raises the level of your game, any time someone calls you out, disrespects you," Harrison said. "I talked to him. I told him to just play football, don't do your talking in the media. You're a good player, so just play. Actions talk louder than words. You can't get caught up in the one-on-one.
"What it comes down to is individual battles, making plays. We don't get caught up in the media and trash talking. You can disguise and cover things up but what it comes down to is winning those battles."
McMichael was shut out in the receiving department and the Dolphins offense was blanked by plays such as Harrison's sack of Jay Fiedler and Tedy Bruschi's interception return for a touchdown. McMichael was also the designated blocker who was bypassed by Harrison.
The Dolphins had advanced to the Patriot 10-yard line when Harrison blitzed and blindsided Fiedler for a 10-yard loss, the ball eventually rolling to the Patriot 30, where Mike Vrabel recovered with 1 minute 49 seconds seconds remaining in the third quarter. Miami never came any closer to scoring, and that play signaled the end for the Dolphins. Miami's next eight plays included a 10-yard loss with a fumble, a 13-yard loss, and Bruschi's interception.
"It was a play-action to the tight end side," Harrison said of the sack. "He faked to Ricky Williams and I came up and put a pretty good shot on him. Any time you have the opportunity to knock the ball loose, you give them a good lick and try to cause separation.
"The key to our game is causing turnovers and making plays and we were able to do that. This team is built on turnovers, and if you can get those, especially with the conditions, you should be all right. The Dolphins are a good team and we were able to shut them out."
Said McMichael: "It was a mental mistake. I was blocking on the line, but I should have been blocking the blitz. We had the momentum, and that play changed the momentum in their favor."
Harrison is also capitalizing on the motivation of having been rejected by San Diego after nine seasons. Harrison, who joined the Patriots before this season and has started in all 13 games, felt at home in the snow.
"The key word, it's about team," Harrison said. "We don't care who is signing autographs or selling T-shirts. This is one of the closest teams I've ever been on. And it's not just [the performance of] one guy, it's everyone week in and week out.
"The way guys welcomed me in, it's not like I'm a rookie here, it's like I've been here three, four, five years. It's tremendous. I came here looking for the opportunity to play for a team that wasn't second-guessing my talents.
"Playing at home gives you a little more energy, gets you a little more excited. The field was not that bad. We're used to it. Once you got to running around, the footing was a lot better than I anticipated."
The Patriots defense was able to anticipate most of the Dolphins' moves. And Harrison is attempting to keep his focus on the present.
"We don't look at playoff scenarios," Harrison said. "We haven't won a Super Bowl or a playoff game this year and we are looking at it one game at a time."
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.