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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — Chris Harris Jr. and Antonio Brown have simply been the crème de la crème at their respective positions for over the past half decade in the NFL.
Chris Harris Jr. consistently shuts down opposing team’s weapons, while Antonio Brown cuts the locks on his opponent’s lockdown corners.
Around the league these are simply facts. Look no further than on Wednesday when Joe Flacco deemed Brown “one of the best to ever do it” and Derek Carr called Harris Jr. a Hall of Famer.
“It’s a great matchup. It’s one of the best versus the best who’s been doing it for a long time,” Chris said on Wednesday, previewing the Broncos and Raiders opening week matchup on Monday night. “We’ve been playing at a high level for a while. So it’s going to be fun… It’s going to be a great competition.”
But the two couldn’t be more opposite in their public image. AB is known worldwide—for his play, but also in large part for his interesting off-the-field antics. Just take a peek at the past few weeks to see why.
Chris, on the other hand, is widely regarded in football circles as one of the game’s best. But his name doesn’t expand much further than football circles as he stays under the radar and out of the spotlight with his wife and daughters at home.
Because of that, the four-time Pro Bowler has consistently flown under the radar, while every step Brown takes is closely monitored around the country.
On Wednesday, however, the lockdown cornerback said enough was enough. He wanted his due.
When asked how excited he was to get revenge on AB from their last meeting together, Chris waisted no time responding.
“In 2018, last year?” he questioned, before dropping the mic. “When I had a pick and he had three catches?”
Boom. Exit stage left, Chris.
You see, because Harris Jr. rarely gets beat, let alone for an entire game, and the fact that Brown is the character among a league of unique characters, the most recent matchup between the two superstars is never remembered.
Instead, people are drawn to the second-most recent matchup the two had, which had quite the different storyline.
On the brisk evening of Dec. 20, 2015, with Brock Osweiler at the helm for the Broncos, Brown went absolutely crazy—hauling in a mind-blowing 16 receptions on 18 targets for a mind-blowing 189 yards and two touchdowns. Yes, against Chris Harris Jr. for much of the game.
That’s the game many remember—CHJ’s worst of his career by a mile.
“Ain’t no revenge, that was for years ago. We played since then,” Chris said on Wednesday, trying to get the world to remember their most recent matchup.
Fast forward three years and the script couldn’t be more different.
On Nov. 25, 2018, the limping Broncos welcomed in the red-hot Steelers riding a six-game win streak. Thanks in large part to Harris Jr. making Brown a non-factor, the Broncos pulled off the major upset.
Chris, and the Broncos, held Antonio in check, only allowing him to compile 7.4 yards per reception on his nine catches. Unlike the previous matchup, Brown never stepped foot in the end zone.
Going up specifically against Harris Jr., Brown only had three catches. One of Brown’s 13 targets went straight into Chris’ hands as No. 25 read Ben Roethlisberger the entire play, left his assignment and plucked the ball out of the hair for an interception.
Now, fast forward roughly nine months to Monday night, where No. 25 in Orange & Blue and No. 84 in Silver & Black will get to settle the tie they’ve had over their two last two matchups.
“Oh man, he can just run all the routes,” Harris Jr. said, explaining what makes Brown so dominant. “I think with Big Ben, he had such a connection with Big Ben so it’s definitely going to be different with Derek Carr, see how they mesh together and how he does with our scheme.”
Chris wouldn’t go as far as to say Brown’s the most difficult receiver in the league to cover, but did throw him in the top 12, adding, “All those guys are tough.”
“There’s nothing easy about defending him,” Vic Fangio said. “He’s really quick and he’s really fast. He gets to his high speed very fast, quicker than most. He’s very elusive. He’s a good runner after the catch and he’s a very competitive guy.”
Really quick, really fast and very competitive are all qualities of Chris Harris Jr., too. And there’s one things that’s certain: Neither back down from anything, especially facing one of the game’s best.
In the nightcap of Monday Night Football, Chris Harris Jr. and Antonio Brown will add another chapter to their career-long book. Until then, Chris won’t let you forget how the last chapter ended.