Jerome Harrison ran from nowhere into the record books. Joshua Cribbs topped even himself.
Embattled Browns coach Eric Mangini should thank them both.
Harrison scored his third touchdown with 44 seconds left and rushed for a team-record 286 yards, and Cribbs returned two kickoffs for touchdowns, covering 100 and 103 yards, to lift the Browns to a 41-34 road win over the Kansas City Chiefs yesterday.
Cribbs’s seventh and eighth career scores on a kickoff return set an NFL record.
Running behind linebacker-busting fullback Lawrence Vickers, Harrison scored all of his touchdowns in the second half and broke Jim Brown’s team record of 237 yards, set in 1957 and matched in 1961. Harrison closed out Cleveland’s first winning streak in over a year with a 28-yard touchdown run off right tackle, putting him behind only Adrian Peterson (296) and Jamal Lewis (295) in the NFL record book.
Not bad for someone who had 301 total yards this season entering the game.
“For the past two, three weeks, Josh and I have had a personal [competition] against each other,’’ Harrison said. “He set the tempo and set it pretty high, but I told him at halftime, ‘I’m going to get you.’ ’’
Jamaal Charles ran for a career-high 154 yards and scored in his sixth straight game for Kansas City (3-11). Matt Cassel’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Mark Bradley on fourth and 6 with 2:20 left tied the game at 34.
Coming off a huge win over Pittsburgh last week, Mangini coached this game with Mike Holmgren’s shadow looming over him. The former Seattle and Green Bay coach spent two days meeting with owner Randy Lerner about becoming the Browns’ football “czar.’’
“The reports, they are what they are. I’m coaching this team,’’ Mangini said. “I’m proud of this team. I’m proud of the things we’ve done. We’re moving forward.’’
Cribbs got the Browns (3-11) rolling in the first quarter by escaping a jam at the 40 and at least six tacklers on the way to a 100-yard touchdown. That broke the career record held by five others. Later, Cribbs veered right, veered left, and was gone, untouched for a 103-yard return.
“That’s a pretty good day’s work,’’ Chiefs linebacker Mike Vrabel said.
The Cardinals went 58 yards on the winning drive, gaining 34 on a scamper by rookie Beanie Wells, and Boldin broke two tackles on third and 3 to get into the end zone and give Warner two TD passes.
Wells ran for a career-high 110 yards and had an 18-yard, tackle-breaking TD run that put Arizona ahead, 24-17, early in the fourth quarter.
The Lions (2-12) got a big boost when Daunte Culpepper was benched in the second half in favor of Drew Stanton, who finished 10 of 19 for 72 yards and tied the game at 24 with a 1-yard plunge with 3:48 to go.
The Eagles drove 89 yards to take a 27-13 lead on LeSean McCoy’s 2-yard TD run early in the fourth quarter. McNabb’s 59-yard pass to Jackson on third and 2 kept the drive going.
A scrambling McNabb hit Jackson for a 19-yard TD pass to put Philadelphia ahead, 7-0, on the opening possession. It was the shortest of Jackson’s 11 TDs this season.
Frank Gore ran for 107 yards, becoming the first rusher to surpass 100 yards against the Eagles in 24 games. But the 49ers (6-8) couldn’t overcome Alex Smith’s three interceptions.
Minnesota (11-3) still clinched the NFC North with Green Bay’s loss to Pittsburgh, but had plans to catch up to the conference-leading Saints (13-1). That is unlikely to happen now after Adrian Peterson was held to 32 yards rushing and Brett Favre (224 yards passing, INT) was outplayed by Carolina quarterback Matt Moore.
In his third start for the injured Jake Delhomme, Moore threw for a career-best 299 yards and three TDs. Smith caught nine passes for 157 yards and keyed Carolina’s 20-point fourth quarter.
Russell, who’s been benched a few times this season, entered when Charlie Frye was knocked out of the game early in the fourth quarter by a blow to the head from linebacker Andra Davis. He went 5 of 11 for 47 yards, but completed four of his last six passes - starting with an 11-yarder to Tony Stewart on fourth and 10 and ending with his TD strike to Schilens over the middle.
Facing the 30th-ranked rush defense, the Broncos (8-6) were outgained on the ground, 241-80. Brandon Marshall, who caught an NFL-record 21 passes last week at Indianapolis, was held to seven receptions. His 6-yard TD grab gave Denver a 16-13 lead in the third.
Schaub was 28 for 40 for 367 yards and a TD, becoming the first player in team history to throw for 4,000 yards in a season. Johnson had four of his nine receptions go for at least 30 yards and finished with 196 - three more than he had last week.
Jay Cutler threw three interceptions, upping his NFL-high total to 25, as the Bears (5-9) lost for the sixth time in seven games.