New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry is trying to take a massive leap forward this year after a forgettable rookie season in 2019.
However, a lost fumble that resulted in a touchback in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Miami Dolphins left a sour aftertaste upon what had been Harry’s most productive game so far in the NFL. Patriots quarterback Cam Newton was asked about Harry’s fumble and Newton did his best to broaden the focus on Harry’s contribution to the team instead.
“Let’s just put a lot of things into perspective here,” Newton said, via Mike Reiss of ESPN.com. “Did he have a good game? Yes, he did. I think that one play overshadowed the production he did have. He bailed me out on a play, on a kind of inaccurate pass that he came down with and got the first down. He did pretty good in the run game. He had a couple contested catches. And all that was kind of for naught because a lot of people focused on the fumble.”
Harry never had more than three catches or 29 yards in any of the seven games he appeared in for the Patriots last season. Against the Dolphins on Sunday, Harry caught five passes for 39 yards for an offense that attempted just 19 passes overall in the game.
The Patriots were leading 14-3 late in the third quarter with a first-and-goal at the Miami 10-yard line when Harry caught a drag from Newton and sprinted for the end zone. However, linebacker Jerome Baker caught Harry inside the 5-yard line and wrestled the ball out of his grasp. It went through the end zone for a touchback that kept the Dolphins within reach of New England.
“It was just one mistake,” Newton said. “Him still being a young player trying to come into his own, things like that will happen. You just want it to be minimized as much as possible. But he’s making leaps and strides as everyone would expect him to be. He’s growing up into his best self.”
The mistake ultimately didn’t derail the Patriots as they earned a 21-11 win over the Dolphins last week. However, the margin for error could be significantly less against the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday night.