Nov. 26 and Dec. 11 are a couple dates for Duron Harmon to circle on his calendar ahead of the 2017 campaign.
They signify gamedays against the Miami Dolphins.
Harmon, who entered the league as a third-round pick out of Rutgers in 2013, has grown to know Miami well over the course of his time in the AFC East. But even through the coaching and roster turnover, it could be said that the Dolphins have grown to know him well, too.
Well, or worse.
The New England Patriots safety has intercepted nine passes in his 73-game NFL career. Seven of which have taken place in the regular season. Four of which have transpired against Miami.
PICKS BY OPPONENT
- Miami Dolphins: Four
- Pittsburgh Steelers: Two
- Buffalo Bills: One
- Houston Texans: One – playoffs
- Baltimore Ravens: One – playoffs
Playing in the same division will inherently give way to more at-bats. Even so, Harmon has managed to hit .500 versus the Dolphins through eight career appearances against them, all while playing 147 defensive snaps and an average of only 18 per meeting.
The fifth defensive back on the field – and oftentimes the third safety roaming deep – has been in the right place at the right time. But it can be attributed to more than luck.
He’s been able to see, click and close, similar to a wise outfielder keeping his back to the warning track and running towards the fly ball rather than with it.
“I just wanted to make sure I was over the top of the under coverage, and it was a high throw, and I just made sure I caught it,” Harmon told reporters in 2014, after his second interception against Miami.
Over the top Harmon has mostly remained.
The rest of the Patriots’ defense combined for six picks over the last eight games against Miami. Marquice Cole, Alfonzo Dennard, Jamie Collins and Patrick Chung were those who collected one apiece through that sample size. Fellow Rutgers product Logan Ryan, meanwhile, collected two Dolphins passes as a member of the Patriots before departing for the Tennessee Titans this spring.
That leaves 40 percent of New England’s interceptions versus Miami since 2013 registered in Harmon’s name.
He’s picked off quarterback Ryan Tannehill once a year for four consecutive years now.
PICKS AGAINST MIAMI
- Oct. 27, 2013: One returned two yards
- Dec. 15, 2013: None
- Sept. 7, 2014: None
- Dec. 14, 2014: One returned 60 yards
- Oct. 29, 2015: One returned 30 yards
- Jan. 3, 2016: None
- Sept. 18, 2016: One returned zero yards
- Jan. 1, 2017: None
Harmon came down with the football on fourth-and-24, third-and-14, second-and-7, and fourth-and-5 in those encounters with the Dolphins. Some situations mattered more than others, but altogether, the 26-year-old returned them for a total of 92 yards and posted one fourth-quarter touchback along the way.
“He's certainly someone we put a lot of faith and trust into in the deep part of the field,” Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia said of Harmon on a conference call last September, following his fourth career pick against the Dolphins. “He does a really good job of understanding those situations and studying what the opponent can do there. He does a good job from a standpoint of playing the deep part of the field and got a good read, a good break on it.”
Harmon will look to continue the trend of good breaks. Having re-signed with the Patriots on a four-year, $17 million deal this March, the opportunity is there for him to do so, whether it’s against the Dolphins or not.
Though as things currently stand there, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound defensive back is on pace to have eight interceptions accrued versus Miami by the end of 2020.
It’s something to keep an eye on as November and December roll around. Harmon, for one, hasn’t looked away as of yet.