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Elway: Harrison 'had no other option' but to tackle Decker low

Whether he goes high or low, James Harrison has trouble escaping his critics, but he's found an unlikely defender in Broncos vice president of football operations John Elway.

After the Steelers linebacker tackled Eric Decker at the knees in Sunday's wild-card thriller -- resulting in a sprained knee for the Broncos wideout -- Elway pointed out that Harrison was making an effort to play according to revised NFL rules cracking down on helmet-to-helmet hits.

"The target is now lower," Elway told KSMT-FM on Monday, via USA Today). "Harrison yesterday, because of the fact that he's been fined so often, really had no other option. ... I don't think he intended to hurt Eric. But obviously because of the situations he's been in, he had to go low and stay away from the head. And it ended up costing an MCL sprain for Eric."

Harrison received a one-game suspension for his illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Browns quarterback Colt McCoy this season, after knocking out Browns wide receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Josh Cribbs with concussions last season -- hits that resulted in hefty fines for the All-Pro linebacker.

Decker, ruled day-to-day for Saturday's divisional playoff meeting with the New England Patriots, is a huge part of the Broncos' passing game, leading the team in receptions (44), receiving yards (612) and touchdowns (8).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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