With Browns on tap, Steelers' Tomlin weary of Cribbs' magic

  • By Marc Sessler NFL.com
More Columns >

On paper, the prospect of playing the tumbling Cleveland Browns on Thursday doesn't stand out as Pittsburgh's greatest challenge this season, but coach Mike Tomlin vowed his Steelers aren't looking past this one.

Namely because of one man.

Thursday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m. ET
Watch on NFL Network and NFL.com/LIVE

Thursday Night Football Xtra
Download Thursday Night Football Xtra for a second screen experience while you watch the game.

Play TNF Challenge
Pick the game score and the players from each matchup you think will score the most fantasy points. Compete with friends and experts. Win a trip to the Pro Bowl.

"We cannot let Josh Cribbs do what he's done to us time and time again in the past," Tomlin told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette this week. "We've been dead Indians in his cowboy movie enough."

Not a shining moment for the Steelers coach in the area of politically correct coach speak, but Tomlin has not forgotten a Thursday night meeting two seasons ago, when the 1-11 Browns shot a fatal arrow into Pittsburgh's playoff chances. In that game, it was Cribbs -- the versatile return man and wideout -- who rushed for 87 yards out of the Wildcat and added 104 yards on kickoff and punt returns en route to a 13-6 victory.

This year's Browns (4-8) have struggled to effectively showcase Cribbs, and despite that distant victory, Cleveland's lost 14 of 15 to Pittsburgh (9-3). Tomlin roundly dismissed that statistic, too.

"If we would have played them 14 or 15 times this year, then yes," Tomlin said. "But the team we are assembling and the team they are assembling are different than some of the teams that have taken part in that history."

Tomlin, of course, is saying all (or most) of the right things, but the problem for Cleveland? This isn't a cowboy movie, but real life. A life in which the Browns haven't posed a threat to the Steelers' empire in far too long.