Lions' meltdown 'on me': Damon Harrison takes tie vs. Cardinals personally

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — In Sunday's 27-27 tie with Arizona Cardinals, the Detroit Lions defense was on the field for 89 snaps. Defensive tackle Damon Harrison only played 27, but was so disappointed with his individual performance that he took to social media to shoulder the blame for the team's 18-point, fourth-quarter collapse. 

"This ones on me," Harrison tweeted. "I got dominated today. Hats off to the Cardinals. 100% on me."

Taking accountability is an admirable trait in any profession, not just professional sports, but Harrison accepting culpability in this case is curious, given he wasn't on the field much while the Cardinals chipped away at Detroit's three-score advantage down the stretch. 

 "I feel like any time the defense plays the way we did in the fourth quarter, I feel like it's my fault, it's my responsibility, whether I'm on the field or not," Harrison said. "That's just how I am. I have broad shoulders, I can take it."

There was a perception, fueled by comments from Cardinals rookie quarterback Kyler Murray, that Harrison was tired. Talking about the rally after the game, Murray went out of his way to note Harrison's absence down the stretch. 

Lions' Damon Harrison Sr. played 27 of 89 defensive snaps on Sunday against the Cardinals.

"Late in the game, I think they were just tired," Murray said. "I know Harrison wasn’t on the field a lot, probably due to him not playing a lot in the preseason, if at all. So the tempo can get to them and I think that’s what helped us out later in the game as we started actually going."

But the real reason Harrison wasn't on the field much during the fourth quarter appeared to be more schematic than conditioning. Throughout the first three quarters, the Lions would routinely pull Harrison from the field on obvious passing downs, leaning on smaller, quicker interior options on those snaps, including Romeo Okwara, Trey Flowers and Kevin Strong. 

Given the Cardinals need to largely abandon the run to stage their comeback, the game plan called for less Harrison down the stretch. 

"I was fine," Harrison said. "I saw the comments Kyler Murray made. I feel like you guys are blowing that out of proportion. I wasn't in there much in the fourth quarter because I wasn't in the defensive sets that were being called."

But Harrison's conditioning is a fair question after he skipped out on Detroit's offseason program in pursuit of a contract extension, then sat out the first two weeks of training camp while on the non-football injury list

The ultra-durable Harrison, who hasn't missed a game in six seasons, insisted his conditioning wasn't a problem Sunday night. 

"I wasn't tired, at all," he said. "I played 17 plays and conditioning had nothing to do with that. At no point in that game was I tired. That was the game plan. I'm not going be tired for the entire fourth quarter. That made no sense."

Harrison also added some clarity to his social media comments about being dominated. He defines the word as being held in check by the opponent, prevented from delivering the caliber of performance he's grown accustomed to expect from himself. 

"I just wasn't my usual productive self," Harrison said. "I feel like they did a great job with scheme blocking. They kept two guys on me the majority of the time I was in there. So any time, I don't have the production I'm used to happen, I say that I was dominated. 

"We didn't win, so that being said, I feel like I was dominated."

Harrison, who has impressively averaged better than 80 tackles from his interior alignment the past three seasons, will look to get back to his standards when the Lions return home to play the Los Angeles Chargers this Sunday.

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers