From Arrowhead Stadium
That was not Jim Brown running through the Chiefs defense on Sunday.
It was Jerome Harrison, a little-known backup running back in his fourth season out of Washington State.
Against the Chiefs rush defense of the last month, a Jerome Harrison can look like a Jim Brown.
Harrison ran for 286 yards, a Browns franchise record and the third best running day for a back in NFL history. He also scored three touchdowns and took the heart out of the Chiefs and their hopes for victory.
With the man himself watching in Arrowhead, Harrison, his FB Lawrence Vickers and his offensive line simply steamrolled the Chiefs defense. But then, that’s been happening a lot lately. In the last three games, the Chiefs have given up 796 rushing yards to Denver, Buffalo and Cleveland.
The Browns ran for 351 yards, more than any opponent has ever gained against the franchise in 50 seasons of play.
“I don’t think we tackled as we need to tackle,” said head coach Todd Haley. “One of our keys going in was our front line must win that battle. From my vantage point, it did not look like that battle was won and when you lose that battle, you generally lose. I saw a lot of movement on their part and our guys going o ne way, the wrong way, too much of the time.”
Harrison had a 71-yard run for a touchdown, a 28-yard run for a touchdown and runs of 17, 14, 14, 11 and an eight-yard TD run.
It was power football at its finest and the Chiefs couldn’t do anything to stop them.
“It was the way our guys up front blocked,” said Browns head coach Eric Mangini. “They were consistent, they maintained their p ad level, they had good drive. It was being shoulder to shoulder, getting the first move, being able to come off the linebackers and eliminating their ability to penetrate. It was being a big, physical, tough team and that is what I want.”
It certainly isn’t what Haley wants from his defense. The Chiefs are allowing an average of 162.6 rushing yards per game now. That’s 796 in the last three games. That’s an average of 265.3 rushing yards allowed per game. In the first 11 games, they were allowing an average of 134.5 rushing yards per game.
This run defense is obviously going downhill. They were without DE Glenn Dorsey, who sat out the game with his knee injury, but there’s no way one man made that much of a difference.
Sunday’s game was man-to-man, old-school football and the Chiefs were found wanting.
“I think you have to be physical,” said LB Mike Vrabel. “We can draw up a million defenses and it doesn’t matter. There comes a time when a few of those plays hurt us early in the year and they came back repeatedly.”
As for what’s happened in the last three games, Haley says it’s about how the defense is fitting together.
“We know we have to fit perfect on defense,” he said. “Our margin of error is not one that we can get away with it. There are some teams that can get away with it, but we can’t. They had two tight ends in there a bunch of the time and we were just unable to fit and make the plays to keep their forward progress down.
“No one thing going into this game was stopping the run and making them beat us throwing the football.”
Jim Brown was at Arrowhead for the game and he was raving about the man who broke his club record for rushing yards in a game.
“He was a man today,” said Brown. “He made his cuts, his acceleration was tremendous. He broke some tackles, h e made some people miss. When he got in space, there was not catching him.
“I’ve been talking to him as much as I can talk to and trying to help in every way I could. To see him perform and see the offensive line open up those kinds of holes, it was just a great day.”