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Tony Grossi's Four Downs: Josh Cribbs as a QB, Phil Dawson's last stand, a rare Steelers sweep and the Browns' best play-maker

Dec 29, 2012 -- 7:15pm


By Tony Grossi

Browns v. Pittsburgh Steelers … in Four Downs

First Down: Warm up, Josh Cribbs.

With QB Thad Lewis having to make his first NFL appearance against defensive coordinator extraordinaire Dick LeBeau – and without the services of RB Trent Richardson – it’s reasonable to offer Lewis some help. In a similar situation in the 2008 season finale, former Kent State thrower/runner Josh Cribbs attempted two passes, completing one, out of the Wildcat formation. Cribbs also threw a pass in a 2010 game in Pittsburgh, and it was intercepted. Cribbs has the feeling this is his last game in a Browns uniform. Some of his most notable performances have come against the Steelers. It bears noting that coach Pat Shurmur said this week that the Wildcat is most effective when throwing out of the formation. For the record, Cribbs in his Browns "quarterback" career is 4 of 12 for 45 yards, one INT, and a passer rating of 10.76.

Second Down: One for the road.

Phil Dawson has 15 game-winning kicks in the fourth quarter or overtime in his 14 seasons as the Browns’ only full-time kicker since 1999. His first two were recorded against the Steelers – one in Pittsburgh in 1999, one in Cleveland the next season. He has not had another against the Browns’ fiercest rivals since. That's a 12-year drought. This very well could be the free agent-to-be’s last game as a Brown. It would be a tremendous historical footnote for Dawson to conclude his first Pro Bowl season with a game-winner against the Steelers.

Third Down: Get the broom out.

The Browns have only five wins over the Steelers in 14 seasons since their expansion rebirth in 1999. That includes a 20-14 win in Cleveland on Nov. 25. Should the Browns win on Sunday, it would be their first two-game season sweep of the Steelers since 1988. Ironically enough, the Browns suffered through three quarterback injuries that season and had four different ones start games. The wins over Pittsburgh were recorded by Mike Pagel and Bernie Kosar.

Fourth Down: Josh Gordon, big play maker.

The Browns have 56 plays from scrimmage of 20 or more yards and rookie receiver Josh Gordon has more than any player with 12. The other leaders in big plays of 20 or more yards: 2. Greg Little, 10; 3. Trent Richardson, 7; 4. Ben Watson, 5; 5. Travis Benjamin, 4. Gordon’s 766 receiving yards rank fourth on the Browns’ all-time list of rookies. He trails Kevin Johnson (986), Paul Warfield (920) and Derrick Alexander (828). Gordon needs 234 for 1,000. Lewis. Gordon. Touchdown?

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 44 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Email your “Hey Tony” questions to

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi


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