April 24, 2014

Elyria
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Browns notes: Cribbs on historic pace

BEREA – Kick returner Joshua Cribbs isn`t just having a Pro Bowl season. He`s having a season for all time.
Cribbs` 306 return yards Sunday (franchise-record 245 on kickoffs, 61 punts) ranks third in NFL history. New Orleans` Tyrone Hughes had 347 in 1994 and Chicago`s Devin Hester 314 on Sept. 30.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Cribbs is tied for second since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 with 449 kickoff return yards in consecutive games. The Jets` Chad Morton had 449 in 2002 and Hughes had 500 in 1994.
“Josh is a weapon and every time he gets the ball in his hands there`s a chance for him to make something happen, and everybody feels like he is going to make something happen,” coach Romeo Crennel said Monday. “Even when he doesn`t make something happen, he gets it to the 35-yard line. Then when he does make something happen, you get it to midfield or beyond.”
Cribbs has 1,475 kickoff return yards and is on pace for 2,360, which would rank second all time to New Orleans` Michael Lewis, who had 2,432 in 2002. Cribbs ranks second in the NFL with a 32.8-yard kickoff return average, and has two touchdowns.
The Ravens continued to kick to him Sunday, and it cost them as he returned the ball past the 40-yard line to set up the tying and winning field goals.
“I didn`t understand it, but I do understand that if I was on the coverage team, I`d be offended to think that they couldn`t stop a guy,” Cribbs said Sunday.
Cribbs was doing play-by-play to himself before his return to start overtime.
“It was like I was on TV, like ‘NFL Live` or something,” he said. “The ball came to the goal line and I was telling myself, ‘Now Cribbs gets his chance. He`s cold. He`s determined. He`s got to get good field position.` I was surprised they even kicked to me – I mean, why are they kicking it to me?”
Cribbs forced a fumble on special teams Sunday and leads the Browns with 14 special teams tackles. He`s also evolved into a good punt returner in his first year on the job, averaging 11.2 yards.
“Josh makes good decisions,” Crennel said. “You have to be a good decision-maker to be a good punt returner. He has a knack for finding seams, he can break tackles and he runs real hard.”
MRI for Wright
Rookie cornerback Eric Wright had an MRI on his sprained knee Monday, but the team didn`t announce the results.
“After I talk to the doctor and see what he sees, then we`ll give you an update,” Crennel said. “We`re not going to know anything until (today) at the earliest. We were able to survive without him.”
Wright, who`s started every game, was injured on Baltimore`s first offensive play. He was helped off the field and driven into the locker room.
Crennel said that was the only significant injury sustained Sunday. Left guard Eric Steinbach went for X-rays, but said he just had a jammed finger.
Out of nowhere
Crennel was as surprised as anyone to see his defense sack Kyle Boller six times.
“We had six sacks, which is unbelievable when you think about the number we`ve had up to this point,” he said. “But our guys keep working and keep trying.”
End Robaire Smith had two sacks, reserve safety Mike Adams one, and the rest were shared among the team. The Browns entered the game with 11 sacks, four coming the previous week in Pittsburgh.
Fight club
Crennel was asked if Ravens defensive tackle Haloti Ngata should`ve been ejected for punching Browns left tackle Joe Thomas in the face mask in the first quarter. Ngata was penalized 15 yards.
“The NFL reviews all those plays,” Crennel said. “If they do anything else, he might get fined, he might not. The official saw it and he dropped the flag.”
Thomas tackled linebacker Ray Lewis, who had recovered a fumble, and Ngata told the Baltimore Sun he thought Thomas was going at his knees.
“I saw his helmet, and I was just (ticked),” he said. “I was just like, ‘What are you trying to do?` I didn`t want him to think that he could just do anything.”
Talking turf
Kicker Phil Dawson missed from 52 yards last week in Pittsburgh and was good from 51 yards Sunday in Baltimore. Both were into the wind.
“The difference is you can plant your foot on this field,” he said Sunday of M&T Bank Stadium. “When you can plant your foot, you can get power into the ball. There`s a reason there`s never been a kick over 50 yards at (Pittsburgh`s) Heinz Field and there`s a reason there`s been kicks over 50 yards on this field. I would suggest it`s the playability of the surface.”
Heinz Field is natural grass and gets worn out from a lot of use. Baltimore has a synthetic surface.
Extra points
A host of Browns, including Andra Davis and Steinbach, will distribute more than a 1,000 turkeys to families today. 
* NFL Network will show the Browns-Ravens game tonight at 8 in a condensed 90-minute version.
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7135 or spetrak@chroniclet.com.