By all accounts, Harrison Smith had another successful season in 2016.
He made a second straight Pro Bowl, helped anchor a top-flight defense and continued to enhance his reputation as one of the NFL’s best safeties.
But if there was one thing that gnawed at Smith all offseason, it was that he didn’t record at least one interception for the first time in his career.
Smith nabbed a pick Monday night that helped set up the game-winning field goal in the waning seconds as the Vikings walked away from Soldier Field with a 20-17 win.
So, did the Vikings star safety think much this offseason about the face he didn’t have any picks last year?
“Yeah, a lot,” Smith said with a sly smile. “I’m a safety, and that’s part of my job.”
Smith now has two interceptions on the season, and has helped the Vikings get off to a 3-2 start in 2017.
He made his biggest play of the season with wholesale mlb jerseys just over two minutes left in regulation when he picked off Bears rookie quarterback Mitchell Trubisky deep in Chicago territory.
Trubisky was pressed by Minnesota’s defensive line and rolled to his right looking for Chicago tight end Zach Miller. But Smith stepped in front of the pass and gave the Vikings the ball at the Bears 28-yard line.
That set up Kai Forbath’s game-winning, 26-yard field goal with just 12 ticks remaining.
“I started covering (Miller), and he started breaking down a little bit, so I got my eyes on the quarterback,” Smith said. “Just one play at a time. Just do your job. When an opportunity presents itself, take advantage of it.”
Smith’s clutch interception wasn’t a surprise to his teammates.
Fellow defensive backs Andrew Sendejo and Xavier Rhodes said they’ve come to expect the former first-round pick to make a timely play when called upon.
“He makes big plays in clutch situations and has been doing it for a while,” Sendejo said. “Whenever Harry does something like that at the end of the game … you expect it out of him so it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s Harry just doing what he does.’ We still get juiced, but that’s just Harry.”
Added Rhodes: “I expect Harry to make every (play). Not to put the pressure on him, but I’ve been playing with this guy for five years and he seems to amaze me every time, every year. It’s something new. But he’s quiet about it. He just does his job, and that’s it.”
Smith now has 14 career interceptions, three of which have come at Soldier Field.
On a defense that features Pro Bowlers at every level, his teammates said that the quiet 28-year-old is known as the commander of the unit.
“He’s always around the ball, making tackles. Very smart,” Rhodes added. “He’s an all-around great guy.”
Tried and true, there was Smith with a game-changing play for the whole world to see in Chicago on Monday Night Football.
But instead of celebrating, Smith simply received a few pats on the back and jogged off the field, his latest interception cradled in his hand.
It’s a play, and a reaction, that was nothing new to his teammates.
“He can’t celebrate,” Rhodes said with a laugh. “I want to see him do a dance once in his life.”