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|10-19-2009, 07:24 AM||#1|
A Son of Martha
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Steelers Insider: Cribbs goes Wild
Steelers Insider: Cribbs goes Wild
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By: Andrew Chiappazzi -
Beaver County Times
Sunday October 18, 2009 11:58 PM
PITTSBURGH — If there is one player on the Browns that opposing coaches constantly monitor, it’s Joshua Cribbs. On Sunday, the Steelers saw more of Cribbs than they would have liked.
The top kick returner in the NFL entering Sunday’s game, Cribbs returned a second-quarter kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. It was the eighth of his career — a Cleveland record — and his third against the Steelers.
“There are a lot of guys that are responsible for kickoff returns to be a success, with me being the last person,” Cribbs said. “It starts up front and those guys did an amazing job for me.”
Cribbs relishes his success against the Steelers, and he cited the particularly heated rivalry between the two cities and their fans as the main source of his inspiration.
“The fans really stress to me throughout the week when I see them all over the city that they want a return,” Cribbs said. “I get up for the game against the Steelers. I expressed it to the rest of the return unit how important it was for us to get a return.”
Cribbs was also utilized as the lynchpin in the Browns’ Wildcat formation. Coach Eric Mangini sent quarterback Derek Anderson out as a wide receiver and had Cribbs take a direct snap from center for 13 plays against the Steelers. It was the most the Browns had used the Wildcat this season.
“He’s an amazing athlete, that’s why they get the ball in his hands,” Steelers defensive end Travis Kirschke said. “When you have a player like that, you have to give him opportunities.”
With the Browns struggling on offense all year, Steelers safety Ryan Clark expected some new wrinkles in the game plan this week.
“I expected the Wildcat, probably not that much,” Clark said. “But when you only score six points against Buffalo and have some of those dropped passes, you’re just looking for a spark. They did well with it.”
Cribbs ran the ball six times out of the formation, handed it off another five times, and threw the ball twice. One pass fell incomplete and the other was intercepted by Troy Polamalu.
“I said the same thing I told him on Thursday,” Mangini said. “If it’s not there, don’t squeeze it in. We’re just as happy with him keeping the ball.”
Wildcat aside, the Steelers began to kick away from Cribbs in the second half, and it’s likely that he can continue to expect opponents to treat him similarly.
“It’s respect. We’ll take the ball on the forty every single time,” Cribbs said.
Referee Walt Anderson spoke following the game regarding a controversial first down ruling in the second quarter. Ben Roethlisberger appeared to come up short on a fourth and inches run, but Anderson ruled it a first down.
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“The ball has to penetrate the plane of the stake (of the measuring sticks),” Anderson said. “It touched the plane of the stake because that’s what I’m looking at.”
Asked why the Browns thought it was a turnover on downs and television cameras appeared to suggest the measurement was short, Anderson replied, “The chains and the stake are laid beside (the football), so it kind of depends on the angle you might be looking at it from. I’m looking at it straight on, so I guess it’s conceivable.”
Heath Miller’s second quarter touchdown catch was his 25th career touchdown catch, moving him into second place on the Steelers’ all-time list for tight ends. Miller passed Eric Green. Elbie Nickel (1947-57) is the career leader with 37.
Miller’s five catches on the day pushed him to 202 for his career. He is just the third tight end in Steelers’ history to have 200 or more receptions, joining Nickel (329) and Bennie Cunningham (202).
SWEED BACK ON THE BENCH
Wide receiver Limas Sweed was back on the inactive list for Sunday’s game after playing last week against Detroit. CB Keenan Lewis, FB Carey Davis, LB Andre Frazier, G Kraig Urbik, T Tony Hills, and DE Ra'Shon Harris joined Sweed on the inactive list, with Dennis Dixon serving as the emergency quarterback.
Chris Kemoeatu, Max Starks, Doug Legursky, and Troy Polamalu were all shaken up early in the game, but none of the injuries were serious.
Kemoeatu and Starks both had to leave for several snaps before returning.
Polamalu was shaken up following his interception of Josh Cribbs in the first half but returned for the next defensive series.
Prior to the game, the Steelers honored 25 former players and coaches as part of the Steelers’ Alumni Weekend. In attendance as honorary co-captains were Walter Abercrombie, Matt Bahr, John Banaszak, Jerome Bettis, Larry Brown, Bennie Cunningham, Sam Davis, Glenn Edwards, John Fuqua, Randy Grossman, Reggie Harrison, Jeff Hartings, Ron Johnson, Jon Kolb, Frank Lewis, Mike Logan, Gerry Mullins, Kimo von Oelhoffen, Ray Pinney, Dan Radakovich, Andy Russell, J.T. Thomas, Paul Uram, Mike Wagner and Dwayne Woodruff.
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