Derry: Superman's On Our Team

Josh Cribbs performance against the Ravens took an amazing season one step further...

Many years from now, Browns fans will be talking about the end-of-regulation 51-yard field goal by Phil Dawson that hit the left upright, bounced over the crossbar, hit the upright extension behind the crossbar and bounced back over the crossbar and onto the field.


After a non-reviewable review, the officials, who originally called the field goal no good, reversed their decision and correctly called the field goal good, thus tying the score at 30-30 to set up the Browns' 33-30 overtime victory over the Ravens.

But what was lost in all of the hoopla was the incredible last-minute kickoff return by Joshua Cribbs, who on a weekly basis continues to demonstrate that he should be wearing a red cape with a large red `S' on his chest. This former Kent State University quarterback is truly one of the most gifted kickoff return men, possibly in the history of the game.

Cribbs has repeatedly shown the ability to dash and dart his way through waves of defenders to either reach the end zone or put the Browns in tremendous field position.

Sunday afternoon he displayed another of his superhuman qualities. With the Ravens leading 30-27, Cribbs returned the ball 39 yards, literally carrying five or six Ravens defenders the final 10 yards to give the Browns excellent field position on their own 43 with just 26 seconds remaining.

As a result of Cribbs' Superman-like return, Derek Anderson needed just two completions to set up Dawson's miraculous kick.

Then, when the Browns won the coin toss and received the overtime kickoff, the Ravens for some unknown reason kicked deep to Cribbs once again. This time he had an excellent return from the goal line out to the Browns' 41. Ten plays later, the Browns were walking off the field with the narrowest of narrow victories as Dawson's field goal easily cleared the cross bar from 33 yards.

Now, thanks to what has to rank among the most dramatic victories of all time, the Browns find themselves at 6-4 and right in the middle of the race for the wild card berth. Making the Browns' situation even brighter is the fact they have the easiest schedule of any NFL team going down the stretch.

Their six remaining opponents – Houston, Buffalo and San Francisco at home, and Arizona, New York Jets and Cincinnati on the road – had a combined 21-36 record heading into Sunday's action. That's a winning percentage of .368 and should bode well for the future.

But the Browns cannot take anything for granted, even against teams that are clearly struggling as the Ravens were during the first 30 minutes of Sunday's game.

Over the first two quarters, the Ravens' offense did everything in its power to gift-wrap a victory for the Browns. They had more turnovers (three) than a busy bakery, while head baker Kyle Boller delivered a special order of doughnuts – zero points, zero passing yards until less than two minutes remained in the half, zero first downs until the 1:08 mark, and zero completions to Derrick Mason, the second-leading receiver in the NFL coming into the game.  

For 30 minutes, the Ravens made the Browns' defense look like the second coming of the Fearsome Foursome, The Purple People Eaters and the Steel Curtain all rolled into one.

But anyone who has witnessed the Browns' defense play on a regular basis this year can tell you that no lead is safe in its hands. The defense blew a 15-point lead against the Steelers one week ago and appeared well on their way to blowing the 27-14 lead the Browns had going into the fourth quarter against the Ravens.

Boller, who was filling in for an injured and ineffective Steve McNair, somehow suddenly figured out that he had Mason in the huddle with him. Mason and Boller combined to move the ball up and down the field at will against what looked to be a tiring defense.

When Matt Stover was perfect from 47 yards with 31 second remaining, it appeared almost certain the Browns were headed to a second straight demoralizing defeat.   

But that's when Superman, err Josh Cribbs, showed up in the nick of time. He carried his own team, and half the Ravens, on his back to set up the thrilling victory.

Only time will tell whether Cribbs' heroics will be enough to carry the Browns into the post-season. But what is known for a fact is that Joshua Cribbs, who also forced a fumble earlier in the game, is the Most Valuable Player for the 2007 Browns.    

The good news is that the Browns' defense gives Cribbs plenty of return opportunities. The bad news is that the Browns' defense gives Cribbs plenty of return opportunities.       

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