CLEVELAND — The Pittsburgh Steelers did not like seeing their quarterback, Mason Rudolph, in peril at the end of a 21-7 loss to the Cleveland Browns in a “Thursday Night Football” game at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, and they responded by standing up for their signal-caller, both during and after the contest.
Following the game, the Steelers spoke on the ugly brawl set off by Browns defensive end Myles Garrett ripping off Rudolph’s helmet and hitting him in the head with it, and someone within Pittsburgh’s locker room believes the Pro Bowl defensive end should be banished from competition for the balance of the 2019 season.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said. “We will see how serious the NFL is about their players.”
The incident boiled over when Garrett brought the quarterback to the ground after a third-down play with eight seconds remaining in the game.
After the hit, Rudolph appeared to rip off Garrett’s helmet after delivering a couple of kicks below the belt of the Pro Bowl defensive end. Garrett responded by ripping off Rudolph’s helmet, swinging it at and connecting on the quarterback.
Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey tried to protect his quarterback and after Garrett ended up on the ground, he received several kicks to the helmet and absorbed multiple punches from the veteran interior blocker.
It was then that Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi escalated the situation further by pushing Rudolph to the ground, at which time, both benches cleared and a scrum ensued in the end zone that took several minutes to get under control.
Garrett, Pouncey and Ogunjobi were ejected for their actions.
“At that point, yeah, it’s bigger than football,” Pouncey said.
“I mean, at this point, who cares? My man Rudolph got hit in the head with a helmet, so I will accept whatever penalty it is.”
Although the Steelers have seen Garrett only a handful of times over his first two-plus seasons in the NFL, they felt it was out of character to see the normally mild-mannered pass rusher lose control of his emotions.
“Myles is a good dude, you know?” Steelers, cornerback Joe Haden said. “I mean, I’ve never seen him act like that or do anything like that, but that’s not okay.
“I’ve never seen anything like that, especially when he obviously doesn’t have a helmet on. That’s our quarterback. We talk about protecting our quarterbacks and that’s such a big emphasis. I’ve just never seen anything like that before.”
While there was some chippiness between the teams throughout the game, Haden did not get a sense that an altercation like what happened at the end of the game was brewing.
“It wasn’t getting out of hand,” Haden said. “We were playing physical. We don’t like them, they don’t like us and it’s a rivalry. People were making hits, people were making plays. Everybody was jacked up. That happens all the time, but you know, I’ve never seen somebody swinging at somebody’s head.”
Defensive tackle Cameron Heyward added, “I do not care who is out there. We play this game. We all work for it. For someone to use a helmet as a weapon is uncalled for.
“It should never get to that point.”