If you spend enough time in the NFL, you’re almost inevitably going to find yourself on the receiving end of a dirty hit at some point. Former Seahawks wide receiver Steve Largent was certainly no exception, but he did manage to get some incredible revenge on Broncos safety Mike Harden when everything was said and done.
Largent was the kind of player NFL scouts would use terms like “deceptively athletic” and “lunch pail guy” to describe.
The scrappy wideout initially made a name for himself playing at the University of Tulsa, and while he was selected by the Houston Oilers in the 1976 NFL Draft, the fact he clocked in at a somewhat diminutive 5’11” and 187 pounds likely played a role in him slipping to the fourth round that year.
It seemed like there was a chance he’d never play in the NFL after finding himself on the verge of being cut ahead of the start of what would have been his rookie season, but he was traded to the Seahawks and would ultimately play in Seattle for 14 seasons on the back of the stellar work ethic and route-running prowess that set him apart.
There are plenty of games and plays you could point to in order to highlight Largent’s tenacity, but it’s hard to top the manner in which he got some sweet, sweet revenge on the Denver cornerback who absolutely him an knocked him out cold on the gridiron.
How Steve Largent got Mike Harden back in the wake of a dirty hit
The Seahawks and the Broncos kicked off the 1988 NFL season at Mile High Field in a game that’s best remembered for what unfolded when Largent attempted to catch a short pass from Seahawks QB Dave Krieg.
It was the definition of a “bang-bang” play that saw Largent run a post route across the middle of the field just as Harden was arriving to attempt to break up the pass. While the safety was technically successful in that quest, he did so by driving his forearm directly into the head of the vulnerable WR who immediately fell to the ground after being knocked unconscious as a result.
The fact that no flag was thrown on the play speaks volumes about how far the NFL has come since the 1980s, but the league did take another look at the dirty hit (which knocked Largent out of the game with a concussion and cracked two of his teeth) before hitting Harden with a $5,000 fine for crossing the line.
The nature of football means offensive players don’t have a ton of opportunities to get physical revenge on their defensive counterparts in the same way hockey players can retaliate after a similar incident. However, the stars aligned for Largent when the two teams faced off in a rematch in Seattle on December 1tth of the same your.
The game ended up being an absolute blowout, as the Seahawks walked away with a 42-14 victory on the back of four rushing touchdowns from RB Curt Warner. Krieg also added a couple of TD passes to the cause, and while he did throw an interception to Harden, it didn’t end up costing the team thanks to what Largent did after the pass was picked.
Harden hauled in the throw about a foot into the Seattle endzone and immediately pivoted in the hopes of turning it into a pick-six that would’ve required him to run it back more than 100 yards.
However, things took a turn when he hit the 25-yard line and got absolutely blindsided by Largent, who delivered a hit that sent Harden flying into the air and dislodged the ball for a fumble the wide receiver quickly pounced on to ensure the Seahawks retained possession.
Largent would later admit he went out of his way to hit Harden as hard as he could after being presented with the golden opportunity he was definitely able to capitalize on, and he’s said nothing comes close to topping what he refers to as his “favorite play” of his NFL career.