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Asleep at the wheel

By Marla Ridenour Published: September 24, 2007

A breakdown on the left side of the line allowed the Raiders to block Phil Dawson's 40-yard field goal attempt as time expired Sunday in Oakland's 26-24 victory over the Browns. But considering the same situation happened to Oakland the week before against Denver, when Broncos coach Mike Shanahan called timeout as kicker Sebastian Janikowski's presumed game-winner sailed through, the Browns should have been on their guard.

Yes, they knew the timeout was coming from Raiders coach Lane Kiffin. But when Browns coach Romeo Crennel said his team relaxed after Dawson's first (and unofficial) kick off the dirt sailed through, what Crennel might have meant was his players didn't realize that the Raiders weren't really trying that hard on the first one. Oakland knew Kiffin was calling timeout and didn't want to give away its blocking strategy.

Perhaps the Browns' special teams units should follow the lead of the kickoff return team and its fiery leader Joshua Cribbs. That group seems to take pride in its job. Cribbs said after his 99-yard TD return helped him tie Bobby Mitchell for the team's career record with three that his unit's motto is ''Nothing less than 50 yards.'' Cribbs said he relies on running back Eric Wright to tell him where he stands on the field and when to bring one out of the end zone. Their professionalism and teamwork is helping the Browns and Cribbs make their mark in at least one regard.

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