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Harrison Smith Snags Diving INT, Records 1.5 Sacks in Vikings Win

MINNEAPOLIS –It seemed wherever the Green Bay offense looked, Harry the Hitman was there.

On third-and-2 from his own 48, Packers quarterback Brett Hundley dropped back and looked for a target. Under pressure from Danielle Hunter, Hundley threw toward Jordy Nelson. Smith read the play and immediately began backpedaling before diving to the side and hauling in a one-handed interception.

"He's a good football player. He's smart, he's tough, he's physical, he's instinctive," Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer said after the game. "That was the play that they had run against us in the past, and they had run it earlier this year. We happened to be in a little bit of a different coverage, but he saw it and made a great play."

When asked about the flashy play, Smith's response was anything but.

"I was really just making sure I got it knocked down, and then I had a chance to finish," the safety said nonchalantly.

Smith had quite the outing Sunday, helping the Vikings to a 23-10 lead over the Packers. In addition to the interception, he set a personal single-game best with 1.5 sacks.

He split the first one early in the second quarter, when he and Brian Robison wrapped up Hundley, who stepped in after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone. The takedown forced a fourth-and-11 and Green Bay punt.

Smith's second sack also stopped Packers progress when he tackled Hundley for a loss of seven on third-and-7.

"It's just another assignment for me," Smith said of the blitz opportunities. "It's fun because I get to play all over. Zim's creative, and he puts us in situations to win. So whatever my assignment is, I try to execute it."

Smith also had five tackles (three solo), a tackle for loss, two quarterback hurries and two passes defensed. It was the second time in his career (at Rams in 2014) in which he's recorded a sack and an interception.

"He's a great player, man," defensive end Brian Robison said. "I think he's going to have an opportunity to be a Ring of Honor type of guy. I think he's going to have an opportunity to be a Hall of Fame type of guy. I can't say enough high praise for Harrison Smith. He's a very valuable asset to this football team."

Kyle Rudolph, who played with Smith at Notre Dame before both being drafted to Minnesota in consecutive years, said that his longtime teammate "played one of the best football games" he'd ever witnessed.

"And I've known him for a long time," Rudolph said. "It just seemed like he was everywhere today. So it was just fun seeing those guys run around."

Smith's interception was one of three Vikings takeaways on the afternoon, joining Xavier Rhodes and Trae Waynes, who sealed Green Bay's fate at U.S. Bank Stadium for the second year in a row.

Smith credited discipline for a great defensive performance.

"Discipline, understanding of what we're asked to do, and then we just love playing. We all love playing. D-line, linebackers, secondary," Smith said. "And we love playing together. We love playing with the coaches. We love coming to the sideline and getting hyped. So you know, there's still a lot of football left to be played, and we know that. We just have to continue getting better each week."

Smith is never one to be satisfied. When asked by media members about his performance, he was quick to point out that his first target resulted in an 8-yard reception by Martellus Bennett.

"I gave up a catch on the first play of the game," Smith said. "There's always something you can correct. When your number's called, try to make a play. That's kind of the mentality of not just the defense but the whole team – offense, defense, special teams. If everybody does their job, then we have a good chance at having success."

Across from Smith, safety Anthony Harris was one Viking who answered the short-notice call of his number.

Andrew Sendejo was listed as questionable with a groin injury heading into the game, and shortly before kickoff the Vikings officially included him on the inactives list and gave Harris the starting nod. Smith said he had confidence in Harris filling in.

"He's out there making plays, making great tackles, communicating well," Smith said. "We all play well together, and Anthony did a great job today stepping in."

Added Zimmer: "We didn't know that he was going to have to play today for sure, and then he went in there and played. I didn't notice him, so obviously he did a decent job."

Harris, who usually plays primarily on special teams, said he always stays prepared and plans to contribute in whatever way he can.

"I think I did pretty good, just tried to get on the same page, know the calls, help guys get lined up," Harris said. "Be in the right position in my coverage and stay tight on my coverage when I was in it."

"[Harry and I] are pretty much on the same page," Harris said. "In practice, I'm talking to him and Sendejo at the same time. I try to pick some guys' brains and be on the same page with them, even if I'm not physically on the field playing with them. Me being on the field with Harry today was just a smooth transition."

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