Steelers, this is your captain speaking

As he did in the Super Bowl, James Harrison freelanced his way into a big play. And then, Mike Prisuta tells us, Harrison made sure the team flew home safely.

CINCINNATI _ James Harrison was heard from again early Tuesday morning, but this time it had nothing to do with the protesting of fines or the contemplation of a premature retirement.

This time, he was just having a little well-deserved fun with his teammates. Harrison grabbed the microphone on the Steelers' charter flight home and asked everyone to please sit down so that the plane could take off. He threw in some tidbits about the anticipated flight time and the temperature back in Pittsburgh and wished everyone a good flight.

It wasn't as if the stewardesses were going to stop him.

Or the pilot.

It wasn't as if anyone needed to, given the flawless delivery of Harrison's improvised pre-flight announcements.

Maybe the guy has something to fall back upon, after all.

But if Harrison continues to play as he did on Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium it'll be some time before that becomes a concern.

He and Ike Taylor combined to deny Jordan Shipley a reception that would have given the Bengals a first down at the Steelers' 4-yard line with plenty of time left to ruin the Steelers' night.

Taylor did so by following his man.

Harrison did so by relying upon his football savvy.

"Actually, I was supposed to rush on that play, but we were getting there late so I dropped," into coverage, Harrison said. "I figured I'd stay around the middle somewhere. I figured they'd do an in-route.

"I just happened to get lucky, I guess."

Harrison said he freelanced himself into inside coverage help "because they still had (two) timeouts. They could catch one over the middle and call timeout."

As it turned out, Taylor needed the help.

With Harrison improvising, the Steelers rushed just four on the game's critical play, the one that preserved a 27-21 triumph.

Dick LeBeau said it wasn't quite an improvisation after all -- Harrison had a run-cover option on the call according to the defensive coordinator -- but that if it made for a better story to go ahead and run with it.

We'll opt for the latter and celebrate Harrison's Troy Polamalu-esque intuition.

After all, Harrison's had a tough couple of weeks.

"Do I freelance a lot? I freelance a little bit here and there," Harrison said. "I've been wrong before."

Not against Arizona on that 100-yarde interception return in Super Bowl XLIII. And not on Monday night in a had-to-have-it battle with Cincinnati. Proper credit for the play remained difficult to assess. Taylor said he stripped the ball from Shipley's grasp. Harrison said his hit on Shipley knocking the ball loose was "a possibility."

Mike Tomlin maintained the play was yet another example of Harrison's unappreciated side.

"It's really quite typical of James and the kind of play that he provides us," Tomlin said. "This guy is a great football player.

"He's a detail guy. He's a diligent worker. A lot has been written and said about him of late, but it's not the James that we know. This guy is a good football player. He makes timely plays for us. We'd like him to be measured by plays such as that and not unfortunate penalties and so forth.

"He's very cerebral. And it takes that kind of demeanor to make those kinds of plays and pull the ball out, things of that nature. He does it and he does it time and again."

You're now free to move about the defense


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