Berea Report: Harrison Steps Up

Eric Mangini and the Browns react to the running back's incredible performance against KC

BEREA—Just to put into perspective Sunday's individual performance by Jerome Harrison was, just think that Walter Payton, Jim Brown, Gayle Sayers, O.J. Simpson, Emmitt Smith and the list goes on never did what he did. 

He rushed for 286 yards on 34 carries, including three touchdowns. Harrison broke Brown's mark for the Browns that had been around since Roger Maris hit 61 home runs—in 1961.

No other Browns running back besides Brown and fellow Hall of Famer Bobby Mitchell accomplished what the small back from Washington State accomplished. Brown had the previous record with 237 yards twice (1957 and 1961), while also rushing for 232 yards in 1963 and 223 in 1963. Mitchell had 232 in 1959.

In the history of the NFL, only Adrian Peterson's 296 and Jamal Lewis' 295 (against the Browns) were bigger.

Harrison went into the game with 301 yards on the season and no touchdowns. He now has 587 yards on 122 carries (4.8 avg.) with three touchdowns. Despite playing sparingly until recently, Harrison is the team's leading rusher and receiver with 32 receptions for 200 yards, including two touchdowns.

The Browns woeful rushing offense, that had ranked near the bottom of the NFL for most of the season, vaulted to 11th in the NFL after putting up 351 yards rushing against the Chiefs. 

Harrison's performance upstaged the record-breaking work of Josh Cribbs. However, since Cribbs was tied for the record, it was inevitable he would sooner-or-later break loose for another score.

"The effort of Jerome Harrison and the group, as a whole, was very impressive," Mangini said. "The job blocking of by Lawrence Vickers and the offensive line across the board was impressive, really impressive."

Mangini said that Harrison took advantage of the opportunity given him and it was nothing more to it why he didn't play Harrison more earlier this season.

"Sometimes, you get opportunities and you take advantage of those opportunities," he said. "It was nice to see the things he did (Sunday) and the way he took advantage of it."

Mangini still wouldn't say if he felt that Harrison has shown enough to be the featured back moving forward.

"What he was able to do (Sunday) was special," he said. "I'm looking to seeing more of that. As a unit, those guys made it possible. (Lawrence Vickers) and the line and the receivers did a nice job. The running game working together is all of those guys working together."

Mangini said that Harrison could've easily went over 300 yards.

"There is one play that he was an arm tackle from going another 40 yards," he said. "The touchdown run he had was great awareness of the hole."

Mangini seemed to be upset that Harrison ran the ball into the end zone on the final score and said he would've preferred Harrison down the ball on the one and then kick the field goal.

"It's about 98 percent to kick the field goal," he said. "However, in fairness to Harrison, we didn't go talk about that to him."

Cribbs Contract: There was a report that the Browns had tabled the contract talks with Josh Cribbs until after the season. Mangini said that wasn't necessarily true.

"I think the conversations are still working," Mangini said. "Other than that, that's all I'll say."

Mangini said Cribbs is the best kickoff returner in NFL history.

"It was an outstanding day for Josh, as well," he said. "He made a lot of things happen.

"I don't think it's arguable any more, he has rare toughness and the ability to break tackles," he said. "He often times doesn't look like he's moving that fast because he's deceptively fast."

Record Presentation: Tom Schervish of the Pro Football Hall of Fame was in Berea to accept jerseys and the football used by RB Jerome Harrison and KR Josh Cribbs to be placed in the Hall of Fame.

"In the 80 years of the NFL, only two times has someone rushed for more yards than Jerome did," Schervish said.

Harrison and Cribbs donated their jerseys to the Hall of Fame to be displayed.

Mangini Mum on Kokinis: Mangini refused to answer a question about the lawsuit filed by George Kokinis against the Browns for breach of his contract.

"That's a legal issue with the league."

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