Break Up the Browns
If I told you before Sunday's game that Brady Quinn would go 10/17 for 66 yards, no TDs, two interceptions and a passer rating of 27.7, and that the defense would give up 500 yards, what kind of odds would you have given me on a Browns 41-34 win?
Because that's exactly what went down in Kansas City on Sunday afternoon.
All it took was perhaps two of the greatest individual performances ever by Cleveland players.
Josh Cribbs not only broke the all time NFL record by returning his seventh career kickoff for a 100 yard TD in the first quarter, but he broke his own record about an hour later with his eighth kickoff return for a TD, this one a 103 yard beauty late in quarter number two.
And when Cribbs wasn't running wild against the Chiefs special teams Jerome Harrison was doing exactly that against their defense. Harrison shattered Jim Brown's nearly 50 year old single game rushing record with 286 yards on 34 carries. Harrison scored three touchdowns on those 34 carries for good measure, the last of which came with 44 seconds remaining from 28 yards out and provided the final margin of victory.
Cribbs and Harrison combined for 514 yards and five touchdowns when you combine all their touches from scrimmage and in the return game. That's how you win a game when your quarterback puts the ball in the air only 17 times and completes just ten of those throws.
Cribbs' heroics were stunning (as was the Chiefs insistence on kicking him the football after his first TD return) but not completely unexpected. He has played at an other-worldly level on special teams for years now. But Harrison's record day came out of nowhere. Harrison has shows flashes of brilliance in his four years here but has never approached the level at which he ran on Sunday in Kansas City.
But early on you could almost see it coming. Not 286 yards and three TDs but you could see a big day in the offing when Harrison repeatedly gashed the interior of the Chiefs defense for 7-9 yards per carry and narrowly missed busting some big runs. But he got his big ones eventually, including a breathtaking 71-yard inside run with nine Chiefs at or near the line of scrimmage. Once beyond the human dog pile at the line of scrimmage Harrison outran the two remaining defenders for the score.
That's two in a row for the Browns and their season record moves to 3-11. It was a pretty simple recipe for success the Browns utilized Sunday: let Josh Cribbs return a couple of kicks for TDs and have Jerome Harrison run for nearly 300 yards and three TDs of his own. You have to like where Brian Daboll is going with this offense.
Lawrence Vickers was a wrecking crew on the Arrowhead Stadium turf Sunday afternoon. And if you DVR'd the game you'd be wise to go back and look for #47 in the middle of most of Harrison's big runs. Whether he was sealing off outside contain or blowing up a linebacker inside Vickers was laying waste to Kansas City defensive players all day long. He didn't have one carry or catch one football out of the backfield but Vickers was instrumental in the win.
If you can't watch what Vickers did today then make it a point to watch the man next Sunday against the Raiders. You'll come to love the intensity with which he plays and the pleasure he takes in his thankless (at least to casual observers) job as a human bomber. In fact, long time Browns fans will remember Johnny Davis, the B-1 Bomber, serving the same purpose for years with the Browns in the mid 80's. Davis was revered by his teammates for not only his efficiency and talent but also for his relative anonymity.
Right now Vickers is every bit the blocker and football player Johnny Davis was. And to miss it is to miss a small but beautiful and integral part of the game.
When you see a DVD of the Browns 2009 season (hopefully Pixar gets involved and can do something creative with the three minutes of highlights they have) there won't likely be any Chiefs footage when the defense is being ‘lauded'.
Oh well, what are you going to do. We'll always have the home run he hit on a warm summer Sunday in Seattle to remember.
Still haven't decided who will take Carroll's place in the pantheon of my personal Hall of Overachievers. Stay tuned.
Now a tired Cavalier team travels to Phoenix for a Monday night game against a Suns club that will be running from the opening tip. That's no easy night. Consider the Cavs then finish the trip in LA against the Lakers on Friday and they could be digging themselves a neat little playoff seeding hole depending on what Orlando, Boston and Atlanta do.
It's not a question of panicking. I'm not. I'm just saying this club has shown the proclivity to spar with teams instead of fighting them full blow. Maybe they're pacing themselves. I'm not close enough to the club to say.
But it doesn't make watching it any easier.
* ‘Josh Cribbs facts' courtesy of http://www.chucknorrisfacts.com/