CLEVELAND — Browns special teams ace Joshua Cribbs might be the most versatile player in the NFL, which the Minnesota Vikings can now attest to.
Cribbs took three snaps at quarterback, rushed for 6 yards, started at wide receiver and caught two passes, ran back six kickoffs and returned a punt 67 yards for a touchdown Sunday during Cleveland’s 34-20 loss to Minnesota.
Yet, the Kent State product said he would have traded it all for a victory.
“I know the fans are looking at us like it’s the same old Browns,” said Cribbs, who tied Eric Metcalf’s team record with his seventh career runback for a score. “My heart goes out to them. We want to win for them because we know what this team means to this city.
“It’s very disappointing not to come out on top, but I did see a lot of good things out there today,”
It only took one game for new coach Eric Mangini and offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to live up to their promise to utilize Cribbs in a variety of roles. He lived up to the hype by gaining 223 all-purpose yards, including the electrifying punt return TD that gave Cleveland a 13-10 halftime lead.
But as was the case with many Browns players, it was a play Cribbs didn’t make that dominated his postgame news conference.
In the first quarter, Cleveland had a second-and-goal at the Minnesota 3 and ran Cribbs out of the shotgun on the next two plays. He gained 2 yards on the first, but was tripped up for a 1-yard loss on the second — forcing the Browns to settle for a field goal.
“My job is to run the play call and execute it to the best of my capability,” Cribbs said. “I feel like if I could have reached out a little longer on the first one, it would have been six (points).”
As one of Cleveland’s six captains, Cribbs said he plans on taking a proactive approach this week to make sure no one wallows in self pity. And if that includes singling out himself in front of the team, so be it.
“I’m going to point out the mistakes I made first,” he said. “Me dropping the ball in the end zone on that kickoff and trying to make something happen when it clearly wasn’t there was not a good play. We have to get back to the drawing board, myself included.”
Vikings quarterback Brett Favre extended his NFL record by winning a regular-season game in his 33rd stadium. He previously won two games while playing for the Packers at Cleveland Stadium, the last coming in 1995.
Favre finished 14-of-21 for 110 yards and one touchdown. For the record, the future Hall of Famer’s first Minnesota pass went to Chester Taylor for minus-2 yards, while his initial TD came on a 6-yarder to Percy Harvin.
“I don’t know how many (scores) I’ve thrown, but they’ve all been a blast,” said Favre, who tackled Harvin in the end zone after his catch. “That one ranks near the top. I had a lot of fun today.”
Simply the best
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson rushed for 180 yards, but only 25 came in the first half. During intermission, he received fluids intravenously and returned to the field a new man.
“I came out light-headed, not feeling too good, kind of weak (before the game),” said Peterson, who also suffered a gash on his left forearm in the second quarter. “I gagged myself to get everything out of my stomach, but after the IV, I recharged and was ready to go to work.”
Peterson’s second-half heroics saw him collect 155 yards on 16 carries, topped by a 64-yard highlight-reel TD. He finished with three scores; the other two coming on 1-yard runs.
- Tight end Robert Royal and wide receiver Mike Furrey shared team-high honors with four catches, while Jamal Lewis led the club with 57 rushing yards.
- Phil Dawson scored his 900th career point on a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter.
- Rookie James Davis logged his first pro rush and reception on the opening drive. He left in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury.
- Braylon Edwards committed two penalties (an illegal block in the back and a false start) before making his lone catch, a 12-yarder.
- Starting safeties Abram Elam and Brodney Pool both had first-half sacks, while Shaun Rogers and Kamerion Wimbley later put down Favre. Elam also recovered a Vikings onside kick to begin the game.
- Rookie Alex Mack started at center ahead of Hank Fraley, who played in a reserve role.
- The Browns’ inactives were guard Rex Hadnot (knee), running backs Jerome Harrison (knee) and Cedric Peerman (thigh), defensive backs DeAngelo Smith and Marquis Floyd, tight end Martin Rucker and linebacker Leon Williams. Brett Ratliff was their third quarterback.
- The Vikings did not dress linebacker Erin Henderson (calf), wide receivers Jaymar Johnson and Greg Lewis, cornerback Asher Allen, safety Jamarca Sanford, defensive tackle Fred Evans and center Kory Lichtensteiger. Tavaris Jackson was their backup QB, relegating one-time projected starter Sage Rosenfels to a game-day scratch.
- Minnesota leads the all-time series 10-3, including a 4-2 edge in Cleveland. With the Vikings having made their first trip to Cleveland Browns Stadium, the only team yet to play here is Green Bay, which will do so on Oct. 25.
- The Browns’ home sellout streak reached 81 games with 70,560 in attendance. The crowd included Cavaliers superstar and 2008-2009 NBA MVP LeBron James.
- Parking rates have increased from $20 to $25 this season at all lots within a 10-minute walk of the lakefront.