Cribbs, Harrison lead Browns over Chiefs
By JOHN MARSHALL
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) All week the
Browns heard how Mike Holmgren coming to Cleveland might mean the end
of coach Eric Mangini’s short, drama-filled stint with the team.
Jerome Harrison and Joshua Cribbs may
have saved their coach’s job, at least for now, trying to outdo each
other with record-setting games.
Harrison scored his third touchdown
with 44 seconds left and rushed for a team-record 286 yards, and Cribbs
returned two kickoffs for touchdowns to lift the Browns to a 41-34 win
over the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.
“For the past two, three weeks, Josh
and I have had a personal (competition) against each other,” Harrison
said. “He set the tempo and set it pretty high, but I told him at
halftime, ‘I’m going to get you.'”
Cribbs started the Browns (3-11) off
with kickoff returns of 100 and 103 yards in the first half, breaking
the NFL career record and tying the single-game mark.
Harrison still got the better of him.
Running behind linebacker-busting
fullback Lawrence Vickers, he scored all of his touchdowns in the
second half to break Jim Brown’s team record of 237 yards, set in 1957
Following a tying touchdown by Kansas
City, Harrison closed out Cleveland’s first winning streak in over a
year with a 28-yard run off right tackle, putting him behind only
Adrian Peterson and Jamal Lewis in the NFL record book.
Not bad for a running back who had 301 total yards this season and no more than 246 in any of the previous three.
“I was seeing a phenom –
unbelievable,” said Brown, who congratulated Harrison after the game.
“The obvious is the obvious. He did an unbelievable job.”
Jamaal Charles ran for a career-high
154 yards and scored in his sixth straight game, and Kansas City (3-11)
tied the game at 34-all on Matt Cassel’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Mark
Bradley on a fourth-and-6 with 2:20 left.
It still wasn’t enough.
Playing in Arrowhead Stadium’s first
non-sellout in 19 years, the Chiefs were plagued by more poor run
defense, shoddy special teams and nine dropped passes.
The dropped passes were nothing new.
The Chiefs have had some of the NFL’s worst hands all season. Same
thing with the run defense: Kansas City has allowed 796 yards rushing
the past three games, all at home. The problems on special teams were
something new. The longest kick return the Chiefs had allowed this
season was 37 yards before Cribbs.
The result gave the Chiefs a second straight 1-7 season at home.
“Disappointing outcome with very
clear-cut reasons for the outcome, starting with special teams,” Chiefs
coach Todd Haley said. “When you allow two returns for touchdowns,
that’s generally not going to end up a good thing.”
Coming off a huge win over
Pittsburgh last week, Mangini coached this game with Holmgren’s shadow
looming over him. The former Seattle and Green Bay coach spent two days
meeting with owner Randy Lerner about becoming the Browns’ football
“czar” and even went house shopping, sparking a weeklong game of will
he or won’t he.
Holmgren, who won a Super Bowl with
Green Bay, turned down an offer Saturday to be Seattle’s president and
has expressed interest in coaching the Browns.
“The reports, they are what they
are. I’m coaching this team,” Mangini said. “I’m proud of this team.
I’m proud of the things we’ve done. We’re moving forward. There’s a lot
of good things happening. I’m proud of what they’re doing. I’m proud of
the way they’re working. I’m proud of the progress we’ve made. That’s
the only thing I’m concerned with.”
If Holmgren was at home watching this one, at least he was entertained.
Cribbs got it rolling by escaping a
jam at the 40 and at least six tacklers on the way to a 100-yard
touchdown. That broke the career record for kickoff returns held by
five others. Later, Cribbs veered right, veered left and was gone,
untouched for a 103-yard touchdown return – the eighth of his career.
“That’s a pretty good day’s work,” Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel said.
That was just the start in a wild game between two of the NFL’s worst teams.
With the Chiefs down 13-3, Cassel
hit Chris Chambers, who had a crucial drop last week, on a 39-yard
completion and a 9-yard touchdown on consecutive plays. Charles then
burst through the line, racing 47 yards up the middle for a touchdown.
Kansas City scored another touchdown
when Browns long snapper Ryan Pontbriand snapped the ball before anyone
was ready and hit upback Nick Sorensen on the arm, and Andy Studebaker
recovered in the end zone.
And that was just the first half.
Harrison opened the second by
scoring on a 71-yard run through the gut of Kansas City’s defense, then
added an 8-yard score to open the fourth quarter, putting the Browns up
The Chiefs weren’t done, though.
Ryan Succop hit a 27-yard field goal, then Cassel took the Chiefs quickly down the field, hitting Bradley in the end zone.
Problem was, they left too much time for Harrison.
“It’s disappointing. You come into a
three-game homestand trying to build some momentum and we weren’t able
to get that done,” Cassel said. “We played good football at times and
at other times we didn’t play that good of football.”
Notes: Browns QB Brady Quinn threw
two interceptions, breaking his string of 151 attempts without one. …
Cassel threw for 331 yards, his first 300-yard game with the Chiefs.
… Cleveland won in Kansas City for the first time since the 1988
Updated December 20, 2009