CLEVELAND — The lasting memory of Myles Garrett’s 2019 regular season may very well be him swinging a helmet at and hitting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head in the waning moments of a 21-7 Cleveland Browns victory at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.
With only eight seconds remaining in the game, an altercation between Garrett and Rudolph escalated into a brawl that marred the victory over the Steelers and embarrassed the players, coaches and organizations involved in the game.
“That is not who we want to be at the end of the game,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “That is not who Myles wants to be. That is not who we are going to be.
“You have to be able to maintain your composure in times like that and under no circumstances do we want anything to do with anything like that. I am embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It is not good. He understands what he did, he understands it is totally unacceptable, and we have to get through it.”
The incident escalated from a simple play in the final minute into a melee 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.
“We do not react like that, no matter what,” Kitchens said. “That is not an excuse for anything that Myles did at all, and we are not giving him an excuse. He does not want an excuse. It does not matter what happened. I do not even care what happened. We have five seconds to go in a game. That cannot happen. We have five seconds to go in a game -- the biggest game that this team has won…Never beat Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same year since 1999, and then, we have to talk about this.
“There are 52 other guys on the team that that hurt, and it is going to hurt moving forward. We do not condone that. Myles understands what he did wrong. He has to maintain his composure. Just like he had to do at the start of the year, he had to maintain his composure. We have five seconds in the game.”
Although the excitement over the victory was heavily muted by the melee that ensued, the Browns have no choice but to regroup, deal with the forthcoming suspension for Garrett and find a way to remain in contention for a spot in the postseason despite the absence of their Pro Bowl pass-rushing defensive end.
“We have to stay together,” Kitchens said. “When you hit times of adversity, you have to run toward each other and not away. Just come to work and know that you have support here -- everybody.
“Our players know that they have support from our coaches and other players, so you just run toward each other instead of running away. If you run away, you are just doing a disservice to yourself and your team.”