ENGLEWOOD — In the eight years Chris Harris Jr. has played cornerback for the Broncos, it can be argued he’s had only one bad game.
He’s a three-time Pro Bowler and was once a first-team All Pro but in a late-December, 2015 game at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field, Harris was beat repeatedly by Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who had a whopping 16 catches for 189 yards and two touchdowns.
Harris wasn’t on Brown for all 16, but he did take responsibility for those two touchdowns as the Steelers overcame a 27-13 first half deficit against Brock Osweiler’s Broncos to win, 34-27.
"If I'm going to play that bad, we'll lose," Harris said in a postgame interview with 9News. "Blame it on me. I'll take it this game. Yeah, he's great. He had a great game but if I play this bad we're not ever going to win."
It all worked out for hyper-competitive Harris. His Broncos went on beat Pittsburgh in a rematch during the playoffs and won two more in the postseason to capture Super Bowl 50.
It should be noted Brown didn’t play in that 2015-season playoff game in Denver because of a concussion he received on an illegal hit by Cincinnati’s Vontaze Burfict.
That means the game this Sunday at Broncos Stadium at Mile High will be first time Harris matches up against Brown since that 2015 regular-season game in Pittsburgh.
“I didn’t have a good game that night," Harris said Wednesday. “It was tough that game. It was pretty much on me that game. We didn’t have anybody in our secondary that game. I think all my safeties were gone. I think I was out there with Bush and Keo, so that was a hard game. It won’t be anything like that again.”
Indeed, starting safeties Darian Stewart and T.J. Ward were both out with injuries. The Broncos started David Bruton and Josh Bush in their place, with Shiloh Keo coming off the bench as the third safety.
Harris will have Stewart and Justin Simmons behind this week as he takes on Brown.
“It’s the best versus the best," Harris said. “You’ve got to embrace it. I’ve had an All-Pro receiver every week, so it doesn’t stop. You’ve just got to continue, like I said, playing my game and being consistent.”