Browns-Steelers matchup of the day: Wednesday

Posted Oct. 13, 2010 @ 11:17 a.m.
Posted By Mike Wilkening

Here's a closer look at a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Steelers game:

Browns RS-WR Joshua Cribbs vs. Steelers' special-teams coverage units and defense

Cribbs was exceptional in the Browns' 13-6 upset of Pittsburgh last December. On special teams, his 55-yard punt return in the first quarter helped lead to a Cleveland field goal. On offense, his runs out of the Browns' "Flash" package, in which he takes a direct snap from center, proved difficult for Pittsburgh to stop. His 37-yard run off left end, in which he broke a pair of tackles, set up the lone and decisive touchdown of the game, and he also added runs of 18 and 14 yards. too.  

The Steelers have to be expecting to see the "Flash" package deployed, and they will be ready for it. How will the Browns adjust? Cribbs started left on all three of his rushes for 14 yards or more in the last meeting with Pittsburgh; twice he continued down the left side, but on the other he reversed field with success. He's going to have to be creative vs. a Steelers defense that probably won't respect the threat of the pass all that much. And the Browns may have to be creative on how they use him, too. Cribbs is also a threat as a pass catcher and leads Cleveland wideouts in receiving yards (175). 

The Steelers are allowing 21.6 yards on kickoff returns and 10.3 yards on punt returns in 2010 and have been more sound in coverage than a season ago. Considering Cribbs' game-changing ability as a returner, you have to wonder if Pittsburgh won't just kick away from him as often as possible. 

Cribbs' big return in the last Pittsburgh game when P Daniel Sepulveda kicked deep, saw Cribbs mishandle the ball initially before recovering and weaving his way through the Steelers' punt-coverage team.