CLEVELAND: Trent Richardson’s longest run in his pro debut ended with a bang. Unfortunately, it was one of the few highlights in an otherwise quiet day for the Browns’ rookie running back.
Richardson blew the helmet right off Philadelphia Eagles safety Kurt Coleman with a punishing 9-yard run in the second quarter Sunday. He started right, cut back left and lowered his head when he saw Coleman standing in his path. The crown of his helmet caught Coleman’s face mask at the right angle and popped it off his head like a cork bursting out of a champagne bottle.
The hit occurred around the 37-yard line, but the helmet landed around the 42.
With his head exposed, Coleman still managed to hang onto Richardson long enough to make the tackle. Then he made the game-clinching interception in the Browns’ 17-16 loss.
Coleman developed a reputation for big hits while at Ohio State, but this time he was on the receiving end. He went home with a fat bottom lip, a cut on his upper lip and a cut on the bridge of his nose. But he insisted the hit looked worse than it actually was because Browns receiver Josh Gordon caught him with a block seconds before the hit.
Gordon’s block twisted Coleman’s chin strap and knocked the helmet out of position before Richardson’s blast.
“I couldn’t even see,” said Coleman, who is in his third year in the league. “The rest is history. He ran right into me and my helmet did some work on my face. I feel good. Even though I’m in pain, I feel good.”
Coleman began bleeding instantly, and Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha wanted him to call a timeout, but Coleman shrugged him off and kept playing. He insisted he didn’t have a headache or any lingering pain, he never left the game and he played every snap on defense.
“He caught me flat-footed, and I couldn’t see him coming,” Coleman said. “I obviously saw him at the last second. I just wanted to make a play and wrap him up.”
Richardson had just 39 yards on 19 carries, often struggling to escape the first tackler. But his big blast on Coleman is sure to make clips of the NFL’s greatest hits for years to come.
“That’s just how I play football,” Richardson said. “I didn’t know his helmet was going to come off. I didn’t even know it came off until I got to the sidelines and saw the replay. It was a good feeling making somebody’s helmet come off while they’re trying to tackle me.”
Richardson missed the entire preseason after arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and didn’t return to practice until Monday. He looked rusty at times and tentative on a few runs, but he had little room to operate against an Eagles defense that plugged holes all afternoon.
“He’ll play better next week,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said. “That’s a competitor. We had to put a leash on him to get him out of there. He won a couple times getting back in there. That’s what you want from a guy that plays that position. He’s going to play a lot of great football around here for a long time.”
As for Coleman, it was the Dayton native’s first game back in Ohio since leaving Ohio State in 2010. He intercepted Browns quarterback Brandon Weeden twice after leading the Eagles in interceptions last year with four.
Coleman’s first interception squelched a Browns scoring drive at the goal line when Greg Little had a sure touchdown catch bounce off his hands and into Coleman’s arms. His second interception, with 1:05 left in the game, ended the Browns’ chance at a game-winning drive on the first snap.
“It’s a little emotional, I’m not going to lie,” Coleman said. “It’s my first time coming back and playing. I was nominated captain and I’m just proud of this team. We kept fighting.”