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Benjamin provides a spark

Posted Dec 9, 2012

Rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin sparked the entire Browns team with a 93-yard punt return for a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Kansas City Chiefs.

At five-foot-10 and 175 pounds, rookie wide receiver Travis Benjamin is one of the smallest players on the Cleveland Browns’ roster, but he came up with one of the biggest plays of the year in the second quarter of Sunday’s 30-7 win over the Kansas City Chiefs at Cleveland Browns Stadium.

Down by four points, the Browns forced Kansas City to punt on the first play of the second quarter. As the Chiefs lined up, Joshua Cribbs moved to the line of scrimmage to try and block the punt while Benjamin ran back to return.

Benjamin fielded the punt at the seven-yard line, ran through the middle of the Chiefs’ coverage unit, got to the Browns’ sideline and crossed back to the middle of the field before getting into the end zone. It was the longest punt return in Browns history, and also, the longest for a touchdown.

“It worked out perfectly,” Benjamin said. “I knew I was going to take it. When they saw Cribbs run up, they thought, ‘We’ll just kick it to 80. Then, we’re going to make a big play.’

“As soon as I passed the first defender, I saw a number of brown jerseys and I knew I had it. They led me to a touchdown. Once I made the gunner miss, I had great blocking on the outside. If I made one person miss and get up the field, I knew I wouldn’t be stopped.”

Not bad for a scheme that was originally designed for a different result.

“It was honestly designed as a punt block, but we knew, given the pressure that we would apply, those guys were going to have to stay in longer to protect,” kicker Phil Dawson explained. “When that happens, your returner has a chance to catch the ball, get comfortable and get going. That was awesome to watch and it’s fun to see us finally get one in the end zone.”

Benjamin’s ability to return Dustin Colquitt’s punt for a touchdown came as no surprise to his teammates.

“Travis is the fastest man I have ever seen in person,” running back Trent Richardson said. “When he gets the ball and gets the edge, he’s gone. With Travis, that punt return just sparked the whole team. We feed off of each other’s energy. When Travis came back and did that return, we were all up. We were all hyped and from there, we just went on to a victory.”

Browns coach Pat Shurmur credited the players for executing the plan of special teams coordinator Chris Tabor on the punt return, which helped spark the Browns to score 20 unanswered points over the game’s final 45 minutes.

“It was a huge lift,” Shurmur said. “It puts us ahead in a game. We just took an 80-yard punch for a touchdown. That was a punch in the gut. To get a play like that to put you back on top is something that you always hope for in a game.”