Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett was one of three players ejected after a instigating an ugly brawl with the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers with eight seconds remaining in the Browns’ Thursday night win.
Scrapping with Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph after a play, Garrett pulled Rudolph’s helmet off by the facemask and — while being restrained by Steelers offensive linemen David DeCastro and Matt Feiler — swung it deliberately and made contact with the top of Rudolph’s head.
Rudolph did not initially fall from the hit by the helmet, as he turned to officials with his hands raised, but Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi charged at him from behind and shoved him to the ground.
Meanwhile, DeCastro tackled Garrett, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey jumped on the pile and threw several punches at Garrett before kicking at him once and throwing more punches.
After conferring with replay officials in New York, referee Clete Blakeman ejected Garrett, Ogunjobi and Pouncey. That made four ejections in the game, after Browns safety Damarious Randall was disqualified following a helmet-to-helmet hit that concussed Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson in the third quarter.
The late fracas began as Rudolph flipped a screen pass and was wrapped up by Garrett, who did not let go and slowly dragged Rudolph to the ground as the quarterback resisted. Once on the ground, Rudolph grabbed at Garrett’s facemask and helmet, and the two continued to scrap as DeCastro pulled Garrett off and Feiler tried to separate the two.
But Garrett grabbed Rudolph’s facemask, pulled the quarterback off the ground by the facemask and then yanked it once more to pull the helmet off. Rudolph got up and chased after Garrett, which is when the defensive end swung the helmet.
Rudolph, who was concussed and knocked unconscious by a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier this year, also took an inadvertent shot to the back of the head from Feiler, who was walking to confront Ogunjobi as Rudolph was getting up from Ogunjobi’s hit. Rudolph remained in the game to run one more play.
Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens said postgame of Garrett, “He understands what he did. He understands what he did is totally unacceptable.”
DeCastro said, according to ESPN, “The (NFL) has to make a statement,” while Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said of Rudolph, “The dude was defenseless.”
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield gave his perspective from the bench in a postgame interview with Fox.
“I didn’t see why it started, but it’s inexcusable,” he said. “I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that. … That’s just endangering the other team. That’s inexcusable. (Garrett) knows that.
“The reality of it, he’s going to get suspended, and that’s going to hurt our team. We don’t know how long, but that hurts our team.”
The Browns won 21-7, beating the Steelers for the first time since October 2014. They had lost seven of the previous eight meetings, with the teams playing to a tie in the 2018 season opener at Cleveland.
–Field Level Media