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Steelers-Browns matchup of the day: Wednesday

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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening

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Posted Dec. 29, 2010 @ 11:21 a.m. ET
By Mike Wilkening

Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Steelers-Browns game.

The Steelers' kickoff coverage vs. Browns RS Joshua Cribbs 

Three of Cribbs' NFL-record eight kickoff returns for touchdowns have come against the Steelers, including one a season ago, when kickoff coverage was a major weakness for Pittsburgh (four TDs allowed). 

The Steelers have been better covering kicks this season, but they allowed a 97-yard TD to Jets KR Brad Smith in Week 15 in a 22-17 loss, and given their past issues stopping Cribbs, their coverage and kickoff strategy bear watching Sunday. It wouldn't be a surprise if the Steelers simply didn't mess with kicking deep to Cribbs and attempted shorter, higher-trajectory kicks designed to be caught by a Browns blocker, not their returning star.

Cribbs returned one kickoff for 26 yards in the first meeting between the teams in Week Six before suffering a concussion that knocked him out of the game. Though he has been bothered by four injured toes since Week 10, Cribbs has missed just one game because of the injury and played well in Week 16, notching a 37-yard kickoff return and 17-yard punt return. 

 

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