Marvin Harrison will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday night, and it’s certainly a worthy honor and recognition. He made too many incredible catches to count and 1,102 receptions in total, but that doesn’t mean we can’t list a few of them. I’ll do a similar piece on Tony Dungy soon (though it won’t be his best catches, I’ll tell you that much), but I thought it would be an interesting discussion: what are your favorite Marvin Harrison moments?
I’ll give you a few of my favorite Marvin moments, and then you can discuss these and so many of the others in the comments section.
5. vs. Cleveland Browns, 2002 regular season
Marvin Harrison entered a December matchup against the Cleveland Browns needing just five catches to tie the NFL single-season record for receptions. Harrison entered the game with 118 receptions, and the NFL record was 123 receptions set by Detroit’s Herman Moore in 1995. On the Colts’ first drive of the third quarter, Harrison tied it on a 23 yard hookup with Peyton Manning. On another drive a little later in the third quarter, Harrison broke the record and moved into sole possession of first place with his 124th reception, a five-yard catch on fourth-and-one. Harrison would go on to catch three more passes in that game and 19 more passes in that season to set the new single-season mark at 143 catches - one that hasn’t been broken since.
4. vs. Denver Broncos, 2003 playoffs
Harrison's untouched TD vs. Broncos. Still can't believe this happened in a playoff game. pic.twitter.com/TyjkvMB2Np— Zak Keefer (@zkeefer) August 2, 2016
Following the conclusion of the 2003 regular season, the Colts hosted the Denver Broncos for a wild card playoff matchup. Indianapolis hadn’t won a playoff game since the 1996 NFL season, and the pressure was starting to build on Peyton Manning (in his sixth season at this point) to win in the postseason. On the day he won his first career playoff game, his Hall of Fame receiver certainly helped him out. The Colts got rolling early and never looked back, as they jumped out to a 31-3 halftime lead and won 41-10. Harrison caught seven passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns on the day, but none was better than this one. He ran a slant route and caught it for a first down, but he fell to the turf as he did so. The Broncos defense just stood around, so Harrison smartly kept rolling and then stood up, untouched, as he sprinted for the endzone. Touchdown.
"I would've rather seen us get a 15-yard penalty for tattooing (Harrison) than for that to happen,” Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer remarked after the game. “In a playoff game?”
It was just Marvin being Marvin.
3. vs. Tennessee Titans, 2003 regular season
In a December matchup with the Tennessee Titans in 2003, Marvin Harrison made what might very well be the most ridiculous catch of his NFL career. The Colts would go on to win 29-27 and Harrison caught ten passes for 124 yards, but this one stood above them all. Peyton Manning overthrew Marvin (which didn’t happen a whole lot), but the receiver somehow managed to lay out for the pass, grabbing it with one hand and then pulling it back to his body as he went to the ground. The play was simply jaw-dropping. Radio announcer Bob Lamey said it best: “He got it! What a circus catch! Holy mackerel what a catch by the great one, Marvin Harrison!” After the play, he had to wave the rest of the offense down the field because they didn’t realize that he had caught it. No one possibly could have caught that, right? Wrong, because that would have been underestimating the marvelous Marvin Harrison.
2. vs. New England Patriots, 2006 season
A year after the Colts finally defeated Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, they did it again the following season in Foxborough. In the 2006 regular season, the Colts defeated the Patriots 27-20 to improve to 8-0, but it was all overshadowed by the catch Harrison made. He caught eight passes on the day for 145 yards and two touchdowns, but this one stood out among the rest.
He made an incredible adjustment with his body to get turned around, and then as he was doing so managed to tip the football back to himself as he just barely dragged his feet in bounds for the touchdown. Body adjustment? Check. Insane catch? Check. Dragging the feet? Check. As Mike Chappell pointed out, one of the most remarkable things about the catch is that Patriots coach Bill Belichick didn’t even challenge it. He just knew it was a touchdown. "Peyton and Marvin have that connection," Patriots corner Ellis Hobbs said after the game. "Peyton put it right there."
Even better is that after the play, the usually calm and reserved Harrison spiked the ball emphatically in celebration. He told the media today the reason why: “It was New England.”
1. vs. St. Louis Rams, 2005 season
The most significant moment in Marvin Harrison’s career wasn’t an acrobatic catch but rather the record-breaker between him and quarterback Peyton Manning. The duo entered the contest tied with Steve Young and Jerry Rice with 85 touchdowns, the all-time record between a quarterback and a wide receiver. It was only a matter of time before Manning and Harrison would take first place all by themselves, and they did it two weeks after tying the record. With 9:25 left in a home against the St. Louis Rams on Monday Night Football, Manning hit Harrison on a six-yard fade to break the record with their 86th career connection. After the play, the two were caught by NFL Films microphones arguing over who should keep the football, with Manning finally agreeing “we’ll split it.” Harrison caught just four passes for 39 yards and the lone touchdown on that day, but it was a very significant milestone. Manning and Harrison went on to shatter the record by 27 scores, finishing with 112 touchdown connections between the two of them. They also hold the records for most completions (953) and yards (12,766) between a quarterback/wide receiver duo, and Manning doesn’t think their record will ever be broken.