Vintage Harrison Does His Thing

By Bob Kravitz
Updated: October 13, 2008

INDIANAPOLIS — That was the old Marvin Harrison, as opposed to an old Marvin Harrison. That was the old Marvin, just like those were the old Indianapolis Colts, piling up gaudy numbers on offense, playing with warp-speed fury on defense and special teams, unleashing the manic style that earned them the 2006 title.

After four uneven performances, Sunday’s 31-3 dismantling of the Baltimore Ravens was the Colts’ get-well performance. They played more good football in one game than they did in the previous four games put together. By a lot.

The natural order of the universe has been restored:

The Colts won at home, just the way they always used to win at home. It’s finally safe to tear down the RCA Dome.

The defense played at 78 rpm in a 33 rpm game. (For you kids out there, that’s a turntable reference.) Suffice to say, they played fast and furious, getting six or seven guys to the ball on almost every play. Apparently, they can just turn it on.

Peyton Manning looked the most comfortable he has all season and hit those trademark deep passes to Reggie Wayne and Harrison.

The Colts showed how devastating they can be when they play with a lead. They stuffed Baltimore’s run game, got in quarterback Joe Flacco’s face and forced five turnovers. So, Gary Brackett, where has this been all year?

“If I could answer that and bottle it, I could make a lot of money,” he said. “We talk a lot about ‘playing Colts football,’ but a lot of our younger guys hadn’t seen it yet. They didn’t know what we’re capable of doing. Now they see that it doesn’t take anything special; it’s just everybody playing 120 percent.”

But back to Harrison, who, except for becoming the target in a civil lawsuit, had another normal week at the workplace. If Harrison was distracted by the fallout from the alleged springtime incident, he didn’t show it Sunday. The numbers weren’t off the charts — three catches for 83 yards — but two went for touchdowns. In the process, he passed Walter Payton for 10th on the all-time touchdowns list and vaulted himself into a tie for ninth with the great Jim Brown.

Does that mean Marvin’s back? Still too early to say. Just like it was too early to say he was a shadow of his former self after just two or three weeks.

Maybe Harrison was offering his unspoken answer to the question when, after both touchdown catches, he gestured like he was sweeping dandruff off his shoulder pads.

“Dusting off the haters,” Wayne said later, offering his services as an interpreter. “I’ve never seen him do that before, but that’s what it is — dusting off the haters. He might have been talking about you.”

Yes, I’m the man drinking the Hater-aid. Before the season, I wrote that Harrison would have a Pro Bowl season. And when ESPN’s Merril Hoge suggested Harrison was losing his edge, I wrote it was too early to write off the man. I hate, therefore I am.

After the game, I approached Harrison at his locker: “Got a minute, Marvin?”

This is part of the little dance we do. I request Harrison every now and again during the week. He doesn’t often speak, but on the rare occasion I can get him aside, he can be interesting if sparing in his commentary. And after a game in which he played a big role, it seemed to make sense to quiz the Mysterious One.

I inquired again if he had a moment.

“No,” he said quickly, pulling on his jeans. “I’m getting dressed.”

I asked if he’d have time when he finished dressing.

“I’ve got to do a thing with the trainer,” he said.

At this point, it didn’t take a Pro Bowl cornerback to see the man was running an out route.

“And after the trainer?”

Maybe, he said as he cleaned out his locker.

“You’re not coming back,” I said.

He shrugged and walked away.


But, then, Indy doesn’t love this guy because he’s a better speaker than Barack Obama. They love him because of what he has done on the field for so many years. And for the first time this season, there was the sense that Harrison had plenty left in the tank.

“Looking at film, it doesn’t look like the Marv who I’ve seen in the past,” said Baltimore safety Ed Reed. “But at the same time, for him to come out and have a game like he had, you know you’ve still got to keep an eye on him.”

On the deep touchdown pass to Harrison, cornerback Chris McAlister got caught peeking into the Colts’ backfield.

“That’s like biting on a play fake and Usain Bolt running a go route,” Reed said. “You might as well stop. You ain’t catching Marv.”

From top to bottom and beginning to end, there was a whole lot to like. And now, finally, there are reasons to believe the Colts will be embarking on the toughest part of a tough schedule — at Green Bay, at Tennessee, New England and at Pittsburgh — with their game rounding into shape.

The old Colts were back. Along with the old Marvin. Who suddenly looks young again.