Patriots

Harmon embraces Patriots 'swagger' and non-complacency

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Harmon embraces Patriots 'swagger' and non-complacency

FOXBORO -- A familiar refrain was heard across the National Football League this spring: are you bleeping kidding me? The Patriots got that guy?? Bleep. Whether it be Brandin Cooks or Stephon Gilmore or - to a lesser degree - the likes of Kony Ealy, Mike Gilislee and Rex Burkhead, the Pats offseason activities made the defending Super Bowl champs a more talented team, at least on paper. 

“That just shows that this is a team that’s always looking to get better,” Duron Harmon told me. “The players aren’t complacent. The coaches aren’t complacent. The organization isn’t complacent, and I just think when you have that type of mindset coming from up top, coaches, players, the organization, it is easy for the players not to get complacent. We know we have to continue to get better, continue to work. We gotta do everything we did and more last year to try to do what we want to do again this year.”

Harmon has a terrific perspective on the how the operation is run. He has consistently improved, to the point where he was a fairly well sought after free agent. But his first choice was to return to Foxboro, and the two sides made it happen. Was there more money elsewhere? Yes, but the steady Harmon embraces being a Patriot and embraces those around him. 

“When you have a good group of guys, I think that’s what makes playing this sport for this team even better, that’s what makes me even more excited,” he said. “Being able to go out there with a great group of guys, guys that I love and depend on {and} they depend on me… when you have that type of chemistry, that brotherly love, it makes playing football more fun and easier.”

Easier is an interesting word choice. There’s nothing easy about being a member of this team, this organization. Forget about expectations outside the building, the ones inside are far greater, and more pressure-filled than anything we could cook up. That said, the continued success provides an obvious ground floor for the players to build off - hey, you’re Super Bowl champs - and that wealth of experience in all sorts of situations breeds confidence.

“We get the swagger more so from the work we put in,” said Harmon. “If you look at how we practice, how hard we practice, how much work we put in with the weights, the film room, iI think that’s what gives us our swagger because we really believe - I believe - no teams, or very few teams, put in the amount of work we put in. That gives us the type of confidence so that when we got out there we say we’ve seen this before, we’ve been thru this before so let’s just go out here, play by the rules and everything will be fine.”

Coaches and teammates alike point to Harmon as one of the steadiest voices heard throughout the season and certainly at halftime of the Super Bowl. Listening to him talk tells you exactly why.

Steelers lock up AFC North with 39-38 win over Ravens

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Steelers lock up AFC North with 39-38 win over Ravens

PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Steelers won one for injured star Ryan Shazier - and wrapped up the AFC North in the process.

Chris Boswell made a 46-yard field goal with 42 seconds left and Pittsburgh's defense overcame a sloppy night to stop one Baltimore's last-gasp drive in the Steelers' 39-38 victory Sunday night.

The Steelers (11-2) trailed by 11 points going into the fourth quarter but capped an emotionally trying week following Shazier's spinal injury to rally for their eighth straight victory and third division title in four years.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 506 yards and two touchdowns, becoming the first quarterback in NFL history to top 500 yards passing three times. Antonio Brown caught 11 passes for 213 yards, including two long gains in the fourth quarter that allowed the Steelers to recover after blowing an early 14-point lead. Le'Veon Bell had 125 yards of total offense and scored three touchdowns.

Baltimore's Joe Flacco threw for 269 yards passing with two touchdowns and one interception but was strip-sacked by rookie linebacker T.J. Watt on the Ravens' final snap.

Alex Collins ran for 120 yards and a touchdown for the Ravens (7-6).