CLEVELAND — On a Sunday afternoon full of impressive individual performances, Joshua Cribbs and Mike Furrey might have been the best of the bunch.
Cribbs amassed 243 all-purpose yards, while Furrey received major playing time at both wide receiver and safety during Cleveland’s 23-20 overtime loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.
“In the end, it’s very frustrating because of how hard we fought on both sides of the ball,” Furrey said. “We did a lot of things well, but a win would have meant a lot to this team.”
Special teams ace Cribbs single-handedly kept the Browns in the game with a 58-yard kickoff return and punt returns measuring 50 and 39 yards. The latter two runbacks turned into 10 points and prompted Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to say, “Josh Cribbs was the equalizer.”
“I was amped up the whole day and the return unit was amped up for me,” said Cribbs, whose yardage total was the 10th highest in team history. “They said, ‘We’re going to get you in the end zone,’ and I was trying to. Unfortunately, we didn’t get in, but I was giving everything I had and just came up short.”
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The former Kent State quarterback collected 120 yards on punt returns (the third-most ever by a Cleveland player), 103 more on kickoffs, 15 on a rush, and 5 via his one reception.
“Coach gave us a nice little, short, sweet speech right before we went out,” Cribbs said. “He told us to be physical and be smart — just hit them in the mouth. We want teams to know if they come into Browns Stadium, they can expect to get hit and expect to get treatment in the training room.”
Furrey, surprisingly, did not require any postgame care after having seven passes thrown his way on offense and serving as Cleveland’s nickelback on the other side of the ball. The six-year veteran spent the entire 2005 season as a defensive back for the St. Louis Rams, but hadn’t previously played both ways in the same game.
“The first drive today, it was a little crazy because I hadn’t played safety for four years, but it was a lot of fun to be out there,” Furrey said. “It’s like playing another ballgame on the same day. Honestly, you wish you could do it again.”
Furrey was credited with four receptions for 37 yards and one pass breakup. Perhaps more telling, he was on the field for most of OT, which consisted of four Bengals possessions and three by the Browns.
“That shows the kind of versatility guys we have on this team,” Cribbs said. “Mike and me and everyone else are willing to give maximum effort to help us get a win. Hopefully, next time we’ll wind up on top.”
Harrison gets 100
Fourth-year running back Jerome Harrison posted the Browns’ first 100-yard rushing game since Dec. 30, 2007, by gaining a career-high 121 yards on 29 carries.
“I would take negative yards running, no touchdown, and a win any day over a good personal performance and not winning,” he said. “It’s tough to play this long and not have the ball fall your way. It’s tough.”
Harrison posted the club’s longest rush of the season with a 21-yarder, but also was stripped of the football in the first quarter by Leon Hall. Robert Geathers picked it off in midair and lumbered 75 yards for a TD.
“I couldn’t believe I did that, but I knew I was in this locker room with a great group of guys who would still support me,” he said. “I was glad I could support them later in the game.”
- Shaun Rogers blocked two kicks by Cincinnati’s Shayne Graham for his second multi-rejection game in the NFL — costing the Bengals four points. The mammoth nose tackle swatted down the potential game-winning extra point in the fourth quarter (his second on a PAT) after swatting down a 23-yard field goal try (his 13th on a FG).
- Brodney Pool recorded Cleveland’s first interception of the year, while Blake Costanzo recovered a fumble when Cincinnati’s Andre Caldwell was stripped by Kaluka Maiava on a kickoff return.
- Coach Eric Mangini challenged his first two plays of the year, but neither was overturned by the replay official, costing Cleveland one timeout in each half.
- The Browns suffered their first OT loss since Oct. 24, 2004, against Philadelphia. They are 16-14-1 all-time when playing an extra period.
- A sellout crowd of 69,844 took in the “Battle of Ohio” — the second-lowest attendance in Cleveland Browns Stadium history. The only smaller gathering came on Dec. 24, 2006 against Tampa Bay (69,603).
- Blues Traveler lead singer John Popper, a Cleveland native, performed the national anthem on his harmonica.
- The kickoff conditions were fitting for football at 58 degrees under cloudy skies.