In 10 months on the job, coach Eric Mangini has defended his handling of the quarterbacks, the hiring of offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, the length of his practice sessions, the expensive renovation of team headquarters and the trades of Kellen Winslow and Braylon Edwards.
He couldn’t defend the decision to pass the ball Monday night on the final play of a 16-0 loss to the Ravens. Receiver/kick returner Joshua Cribbs was drilled by Ravens lineman Dwan Edwards, carted off the field on a backboard and spent a few hours at the Cleveland Clinic.
“In retrospect, I’d probably do it differently,” Mangini said Tuesday on a conference call. “But it was competitive. I thought Josh could make something happen there. But you don’t want anybody to get hurt on any play.”
Cribbs was released from the Clinic on Tuesday morning and talked to Mangini. Mangini said Cribbs didn’t have a concussion, all the tests at the hospital came back negative and his status for Sunday’s game against the Lions would be evaluated later in the week.
Cribbs, arguably the best all-around player on the Browns, shares the team lead with two touchdowns and leads the league in punt return average.
“He’s moving around fine, a little stiff and tired, but in typical Josh style, focusing on Detroit,” Mangini said.
The coach said having quarterback Brady Quinn take a knee wasn’t a consideration.
“It’s not traditionally done,” Mangini said.
What would he have done differently?
“I don’t know, hand the ball off,” he said. “Not that many choices. You either throw it or hand it off.
“We were trying to move the ball.”
When Cribbs caught the ball, he pitched to tight end Robert Royal and continued across the field. Edwards was heading upfield when he crossed paths with Cribbs and lowered his shoulder under Cribbs’ chin.
Agent J.R. Rickert said Cribbs isn’t mad at Mangini or the Ravens.
“He is in great spirits and ready to put it behind him,” he said in an e-mail.
Rickert and Cribbs have been seeking a contract extension since the offseason. They want more guaranteed money to protect against a career-threatening injury.
“I thought it was avoidable,” Rickert told The Associated Press regarding Monday night’s injury.
Mangini said the play call was a pass to Quinn, but not a desperation hook-and-ladder. The Browns didn’t finish a drive past midfield all game.
“It was more of a catch-and-run type play and then Josh sort of improvised at the end there flipping it to Robert,” Mangini said.
Edwards said it wasn’t a dirty play, or retribution for Quinn’s illegal low hit that sent linebacker Terrell Suggs to the sideline with a knee injury.
“I was just hustling to the ball,” he said. “He had just pitched it and I reacted.”
Browns defensive end Robaire Smith disagreed.
“I don’t think he had to hit him, the ball was gone. It was kind of a cheap shot,” he said. “But you never know, the guy is out there competing.”
Ravens defensive end Trevor Pryce criticized the play call.
“Running a play like that when you’re down 16 — what are you trying to prove?” he said. “Bad things happen when you do something like that. When people are running around like crazy, somebody’s going to get hurt.”
Quinn was penalized 15 yards for diving at Suggs’ knees on Chris Carr’s interception return. Quinn said he was trying to make a tackle and apologized to Suggs and the Ravens in his postgame news conference. He still faces a fine from the league. Minnesota quarterback Brett Favre was fined $10,000 in the preseason for a crack-back block on Houston’s Eugene Wilson.
Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis told The Associated Press that Quinn’s hit was a cheap shot.
“That’s an illegal blow,” he said. “When you’re running down and you’re looking at the quarterback going at somebody’s knees who doesn’t even have the ball.”
Mangini defended Quinn.
“It looked like Terrell was coming to block him and Brady was trying to make the tackle and he tried to cut through,” he said. “I don’t think Brady had any intention of hurting someone.
“It’s not anything we teach or we believe in or anything I’ve ever known Brady to believe in. So I take Brady at his word.”
Contact Scott Petrak at 329-7253 or firstname.lastname@example.org.