October 1, 2023

Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris (25) lines up against the Detroit Lions during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

Harris, who was nursing a foot injury, said his extensive knowledge in late-game situations likely would have prevented Denver Broncos quarterback Drew Lock from completing the game-winning final drive on Nov 1. Harris watched from his home as the Chargers blew a 21-point lead and lost 31-30 on the final play of the Week 8 road matchup.

If Harris was on the field solely for the final play, that might have been enough to change the outcome for the Chargers. Lock found wide receiver K.J. Hamler for the game-winning touchdown as time expired.

“That definitely hurt not being able to play that game and be able to change the outcome, but I’ll see them when they come in,” Harris said last month.

Harris is still dealing with pain in his foot, but he’s healthy enough to play against his former teammates on Sunday at SoFi Stadium. The former All-Pro cornerback spent nine seasons with the Broncos before joining the Chargers this past offseason.

Harris can’t change the outcome of the first meeting, but he’s proven that his play and knowledge in late-game situations is a difference maker. The Chargers have won back-to-back one-score games with Harris on the field. They also snapped their nine-game AFC West losing streak last week in the overtime victory against the Las Vegas Raiders.

When Harris was sidelined for seven games, the Chargers lost five one-score games and blew double-digit leads in four games. If Harris didn’t severely injure his foot in Week 3 against the Carolina Panthers, perhaps the Chargers have a better record than 5-9.

“I’m slowly improving each week,” Harris said Wednesday. “This is a tough injury. A lot of people would have been done (by) not being able to fight through this or be able to come back and play. It’s kinda remarkable that I’m even playing with what I suffered through.”

Harris might not be fully healthy, but in his first game back, he contained Buffalo Bills wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley whenever they lined up in the slot during the Week 12 matchup. Last week, Harris had a key fourth-quarter interception that he returned for 51 yards. Harris said he might have scored if his foot was at 100 percent.

Harris is making plays for the Chargers. Now, he can back his confident words about possibly changing the outcome of the first game versus the Broncos by forcing Lock into turnovers on Sunday.

Last year, Lock won over his teammates, including Harris, by finishing his rookie season with four wins in the final five games. But it’s been a rough second year for Lock because of turnovers and injuries. Arguably his best game this season came against the Chargers, when he had 248 passing yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

In 11 starts this season, Lock has 2,330 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, 13 interceptions and is completing 57.7 percent of his passes.

“I think this year it’s been a little bit more rough for Drew compared to last year’s starts,” Harris said. “It’s definitely up and down. He’s had a little bit more turnovers with the fumbles and interceptions, but he can still get hot. He can still make those throws that will tear you apart. You gotta be ready. You can never sleep on Drew.”

Harris has also had an up and down season with the Chargers, but he has no regrets about his decision to leave Denver.

“It was just time for something new for me and I’m definitely happy with the choice I made, even though we haven’t had the success and I’ve been hurt this year,” Harris said, “but just moving here, they definitely welcomed me with open arms.”

Harris, who won a Super Bowl with the Broncos, said he’s been texting with Broncos pass rusher Von Miller about Sunday’s game. Miller won’t be on the field because of injury, but Harris plans on trash talking with his other former teammates.

“It was a brotherhood over there, it just happened that I had to go to the darkside,” Harris joked.

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