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Harmon, Norgard Make Oilers Game Plan Work

November 12, 1996

HOUSTON (AP) _ Ronnie Harmon and Erik Norgard were just what the Houston Oilers needed to trick the New Orleans Saints.

After losing two straight games, the Oilers decided to make their play-calling less predictable, and to do that, they turned to the little-used Harmon and 300-pound backup guard Norgard to carry out their plan.

The unlikely duo worked the game plan perfectly.

Harmon had seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown and rushed 47 yards, and Norgard lined up as a tight end and caught the Saints by surprise for a 1-yard touchdown in a 31-14 victory.

Harmon refuses to talk to reporters, but his teammates had plenty of praise for the former San Diego Chargers running back who was signed by the Oilers as a free agent this year.

``He can hurt you in so many ways,″ rookie running back Eddie George said. ``When I first met him, I was so impressed. He can block, catch and run. And that opens up everything not just for myself but the passing game in general.″

The Oilers changed their tendency of passing when Harmon was in the game. He had five carries for 47 yards, which loosened the Saints defense and made him more successful as a receiver.

``It was a big game for us after what’s happened the last two weeks, and Ronnie Harmon came in and played his career-best game for us,″ Oilers coach Jeff Fisher said Monday.

``We did things slightly different to get the ball in Ronnie Harmon’s hands. Basically our No. 1 ball carrier (George) became our blocker.″

Cornerback Darryll Lewis is glad to be on the same team with Harmon.

``There’s no question he’s the best third-down back in the league,″ Lewis said. ``When we played against him a couple of years ago, he really did a number on me.″

In the first nine games of the season, Harmon had 19 catches for 167 yards and 53 yards on 13 rushes.

He’s been doing his homework all season.

``He’s at the point now where he understands the offense more and is feeling comfortable,″ offensive coordinator Jerry Rhome said. ``That makes us able to do a lot of things with him. We split him out, used him in motion, ran Eddie when he was in there.″

The Oilers also tricked the Saints by throwing to Norgard, who took some good-natured ribbing from his fellow offensive linemen when he arrived at practice Monday on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle.

Norgard modestly declined being called a hero.

``A hero is just a sandwich,″ Norgard deadpanned.

Responded Kevin Donnalley: ``Yeah, he should know, he’s probably eaten about 20 of them in the past hour.″

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