Apple still loves Rodney Harrison who said he ‘flat-out quit’ on TD

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It sure looked as if Eli Apple did not want anything to do with engaging in physical contact Sunday, as a third-and-33 play that will live in Giants infamy took shape. Rams receiver Robert Woods, on a simple screen pass, shredded the defense, and Apple looked like a bystander as he watched Woods speed by him on a 52-yard touchdown, the lowlight of a 51-17 rout.

Apple said he was “thinking too much” rather than loafing or quitting. That is his story and he is sticking with it.

“He was running really fast and nobody touched him,” Apple said Wednesday, his first comments about his role in the defensive breakdown. “I kind of hesitated a little bit because I felt Sammy [Watkins] on my shoulder and I was thinking [Woods] might cut it out. I could have easily made a better play for sure.”

Social media lit up when Apple’s avoidance of contact was shown, over and over again. It did not help the second-year cornerback’s case that he was ripped mercilessly by Rodney Harrison, the former NFL safety.

“This is unbelievable,” Harrison said on NBC’s “Football Night in America’’ telecast. “They’re playing a prevent [defense], and all they have to do is just tackle this guy. Look at Eli Apple. He wants no part of it. He flat-out quit.”

Apple did not admit to being flummoxed by the rebuke.

“Not really, no,’’ Apple said, adding, “Rodney Harrison is one of my favorite safeties. I love Rodney Harrison.’’

None of Apple’s teammates criticized him for failing to pursue Woods on the play, but linebacker Jonathan Casillas, the defensive captain, did talk generally about how the play unfolded.

“You have to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Am I the guy not running to the ball?’ ” Casillas said. “If you’re accusing somebody of something they did, it’s a rightful accusation, right?’’

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