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Rodney Harrison on D&C: ‘I blew it’ in Super Bowl XLII

02.02.12 at 10:06 am ET
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Former Patriot Rodney Harrison acknowledged improvement from what he previously called the worst Patriots secondary of the last decade. (AP)

Former Patriot and current NBC Sports analyst Rodney Harrison made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk all things Super Bowl and weigh in on the intricacies of life as a football analyst.

Harrison was a part of the 2007 Patriots team that lost in the Super Bowl to end its bid for a perfect season. On Tuesday, Heath Evans — a member of that team — second-guessed coach Bill Belichick on the team’s preparation leading into the game, saying an extra practice with pads wore them out and a poor hotel disrupted their regular sleeping patterns.

Harrison, in contrast to Evans, was not willing to place any blame on the preparation for Super Bowl XLII.

“At the end of the day, when you’re on the field, it doesn’t matter about what you’ve done in the past,” Harrison said. “It doesn’t matter about four days in pads. It doesn’t matter about staying in some crappy hotel, what food you ate. It’s about handling your business.

“I had an opportunity to change the course of the game and I blew it. I didn’t make the play that I needed to make for that team and that organization.”

Harrison said after months of beating himself up over that game, his mother and wife finally convinced him to move on.

After retiring from football, Harrison became a TV analyst, and at times he has been decidedly critical about his former team. Earlier this season, Harrison stirred up controversy when he called the Patriots secondary the worst secondary the team has had in the last decade. Now that the same secondary will be playing in the Super Bowl, Harrison acknowledged they have improved.

“They are getting better,” Harrison said. “But I think it comes down to this. They forgot about the first half of the season and they said, ‘Do you know what? Forget about the first half of the season. We’re going to focus on the second half.’ And the second half is the playoffs and the AFC championship. They played a lot better. But I still see, I saw Patrick Chung blow a couple coverages. You can’t do that and expect to beat Eli [Manning].”

Following are more highlights of the conversation. To listen to the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. On the recently happy Bill Belichick: “I’m a firm believer in, the players take on the personality of your head coach. If he comes out, he’s tight, he’s stiff, he’s nervous, the players are going to feel that. So if he comes out, he’s loose, he’s cracking jokes — and really, that’s the side of Bill Belichick that you don’t get a chance to see, you don’t see that; that’s why players love and respect Bill Belichick so much, because he has that side of him that everyone loves.”

On criticizing his former team on national television: “I think as far as being an analyst, obviously that’s a very sensitive matter. You have to leave your helmet in the locker room once you decide to do a job like this because. I’ve been very critical of the Patriots at times — Bill Belichick, who’s my favorite coach in the world — as well as I’ve been very complimentary. I think a lot of times, you can alienate yourself from that locker room if you come out and you’re critical. My responsibility is to myself, the people I work for and the fans. I have to be fair. There’s no reason to where I can go on TV and talk about the Cincinnati Bengals yet I can’t be critical of the New England Patriots. I’m not being fair. I get paid to do a job and players have to respect it.”

On whether players ever call him out on being critical of them: “No one ever yells and screams at me when I say, ‘Hey, Tom Brady‘s the best quarterback in the league. Vince Wilfork is the best defensive tackle in the league.’ No one’s ever complaining then. But as soon as I say something, well, stop throwing interceptions. Don’t get beat deep in coverage. Stay more disciplined. Win football games. That’s how you shut people off from talking.”

On the Giants final drive of Super Bowl XLII: “It was crazy. I kind of knew something like that would happen. Eli, he saw the blitz, checked, I think he gave a hand signal or a head gesture to Plaxico Burress. I knew it was going to be a fade, I blitzed and I knew the game was over. Once he threw the ball, Plaxico being 6-foot-5, I knew the game was going to be over.

“My mom and my wife allowed me to get over it. They looked at me and said, ‘Hey Rodney, there comes a point, you did everything you could have done to prevent that play from happening. What else could you have done? Move on. It’s a part of life.’”

On his prediction for the game Sunday: “I think it’s going to be a close game. I think it’s ultimately going to come down to a field goal. It’s going to be a close game. Obviously, the Patriots, they have to protect Tom Brady, we talked about that. But I also think it comes down to someone that you don’t necessarily think of.  Maybe an unheralded player. Maybe it’s Julian Edelman, his defense on Victor Cruz. Maybe it’s Deion Branch because everyone’s paying attention to Aaron Hernandez, [Rob] Gronkowski and [Wes] Welker. But it always comes down to somebody unheralded, just like David Tyree.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, David Tyree, Rodney Harrison,
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