June 27, 2016


Browns notes: Cribbs returns keep game close

PITTSBURGH – Joshua Cribbs had an afternoon to remember on a Sunday to forget for the Browns.
The special teams dynamo returned one kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and ran back another 90 yards to set up a score. His heroics weren`t enough, though, as Pittsburgh rallied for a 31-28 win over Cleveland.
“Josh is a special player and you can expect amazing things from him,“ Browns running back Jamal Lewis said. “Coach (Romeo Crennel) told him last night that we needed a big return out of him, and he delivered.“
The 100-yard return was Cribbs` team-record fourth career TD on a kickoff – and unquestionably his most memorable.
The one-time Kent State quarterback muffed the squib kick near the 8-yard line, causing it to bounce backward and stop within inches of the end zone. To his teammates` surprise, Cribbs grabbed the football and took off up the Pittsburgh sideline. He tightroped the white stripe until the 20, then used a convoy of blockers to take him to the house.
“My guys were like, ‘What`s he doing?` when I picked it up,“ said Cribbs, who broke another franchise record by averaging 51.0 yards on four kickoff returns. “Guys were coming at me slow-footed and I was like, ‘Dodge here, dodge there.` It was like a video game.
“If it had gone in the end zone, I`d have taken a knee. But I had to take it and go with it.“
Cribbs` highlight-film score, coupled with his earlier near-TD, made him the first Cleveland player with two 90-yard runbacks in a game. His 204 yards on kickoff returns was the second-highest total in Browns history.
“Big players make big plays in big games,“ Cribbs said. “After Coach told me we needed a big return last night, I wrote ‘visualize` on my (playbook). I was picturing everything about it from that point on.“
Though the third-year pro never lacks confidence, Cribbs said the main reason for his success is the wedge he runs behind.
He entered Week 10 leading the NFL in all-purpose yardage and had 223 more against the Steelers. Leon Washington of the Jets and Chicago`s Devin Hester, with three return TDs each this season, are the only players with more than Cribbs` two.
“With the great blocking from my team, I always have the confidence to go,“ Cribbs said. “I told them if they would block for me that I would get it into the end zone, and I did.“


Lewis had two fumbles, losing one, and finished with 35 rushing yards on 16 attempts. His lost fumble was critical, coming midway through the third quarter with Cleveland holding a 21-9 lead.
Pittsburgh recovered at the Browns` 38 and scored a touchdown four plays later.
“Playing against a high-caliber team, you can`t ease up or turn the ball over,“ Lewis said. “You`ve got to keep mashing the gas (pedal). We let a good one get away.“
Lewis has only gained 75 yards in a game once this season and is averaging 2.0 yards per carry over the last two weeks.


Braylon Edwards` second-quarter touchdown catch was his 10th of the season, giving him the most by a Browns wide receiver in 38 years. It was Edwards` lone reception.
* Safety Brodney Pool made his first interception since Nov. 12 of last year.
* Cribbs` 100-yard TD was the longest play in Heinz Field history, the second-longest return ever allowed by Pittsburgh and the fourth-longest kickoff return in Cleveland annals.


Linebacker James Harrison – Cribbs` ex-teammate with the Golden Flashes – forced both of Lewis` fumbles.
* Pittsburgh is 5-0 at home with an average score of 31-11. The Browns` four touchdowns tied the most allowed by the Steelers in 2007.


The Steelers and Browns have each won 55 regular-season games in the Turnpike Series. This marks the first time Pittsburgh has ever been even in the rivalry, which began in 1950.
* Cleveland is 1-6 all-time at Heinz Field, last winning on Sept. 17, 2000.
Contact Brian Dulik at sports@ohio.net.