ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Chris Harris Jr. has picked off Derek Carr just once in eight career meetings between the two AFC West veterans.
But it was a big one.
In 2015, with the Broncos clinging to a 9-7 lead and the Raiders driving in Denver territory in the fourth quarter of a Week 5 game in Oakland, Harris stepped in front of an errant Carr throw.
Harris took off down the left sideline and sprinted the final few yards into the end zone with his arms outstretched. Raiders fans greeted Harris with fingers outstretched as the Broncos improved to 5-0.
The interception and the win proved critical later in the year as the Broncos secured home-field advantage for the playoffs by just a single game.
Carr, who will face Harris for the ninth time when the Broncos meet the Raiders on “Monday Night Football,” has more than a little respect for the player who has often posed a problem for Oakland.
“Oh, goodness. Chris is at the top of the list,” said Carr on Wednesday when asked where Harris ranks among cornerbacks he’s faced. “Chris is unbelievable. He’s definitely top three in my book, and you can argue for all three of the guys that I think are up there, that they could all be No. 1. Chris is someone who has made countless plays against me. The plays that we’ve been able to make on him have been tight, tight window throws. You kind of let them go on him and you pray we complete it and that Chris doesn’t pick it off. He’s that good of a player. Chris knows how much I respect him, how good I think he is.”
And Carr, who has had six passes defensed by Harris over the year, isn’t afraid to make that known.
“I will say this, and I even thought this during the offseason: He does not get the credit he deserves,” Carr said. “In my opinion, Chris Harris is a Hall of Fame cornerback. That guy — the numbers don’t lie. When you throw at him, on the plays he’s been able to make, the guys he’s been able to lock down, for the number of years he’s been able to do it, [it’s impressive]. No one else will give him that kind of credit for whatever reason, but he gets that credit from me. Because I think out of all the guys I’ve been able to play in the league, he’s right up there among the best.”
When Carr and Harris meet for the final time at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on Monday, Carr will see Harris in a new defensive scheme.
Carr said he’d gotten used to seeing the Broncos in a similar scheme over the last few years, so Head Coach Vic Fangio’s system will be an adjustment.
And that will be no easy task, either.
“Hands down, I’ve always thought [he] is one of the best in the whole league,” Carr said of Fangio. “It’s not even close how good he is. He’s an elite defensive mind. He’s special.”
Come Monday night in Oakland, Carr should face quite the test against both Harris and Fangio.