CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns went through a gambit of emotions in the span of a couple minutes late in a 21-7 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland Thursday night, and none of them were good.
Those emotions ranged from anger to embarrassment and all points in-between after Myles Garrett forcibly removed, and then, used as a weapon the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph, who absorbed quite a strike from his own protective equipment.
“We can’t have that,” wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. said. “It’s dumb. It’s going to hurt the team.
“He’s going to lose a game, maybe two, you never know. It just kind of overshadows the win that we had today, which still has a lot to improve upon. There is a lot to take from it. Getting the W at this point, the way things have gone, we needed it.”
The incident turned into a brawl shortly after 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.
“You can look back on film from years,” Beckham Jr. said. “It’s an emotional game and I get all that. I understand all that. I understand the rivalry and that emotions run high and all that. Obviously, we’ve seen stuff in the past -- players fighting and stuff like that, but you just can’t do it.
“There’s no way to justify it. You just can’t do it. There’s no place in this game for it. Multiple players are going to get suspended from both teams. It’s just not in this game of football.”
Running back Kareem Hunt added, “It was tough. It was tough to watch when emotions get high. A man can only take so much sometimes, so you have to be able to control it and sit on it. You can’t let it hurt your team.”
The win over the Steelers gave the Browns consecutive victories for the first time this season and improved their record in the AFC North Division to 2-0 with four more games remaining against the Cincinnati Bengals, Steelers and front-running Baltimore Ravens over the final six weeks of the 2019 regular season.
The incident will not have much time to blow over, as the Browns and Steelers renew their rivalry in just 17 days, as Cleveland travels to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh for the return match on December 1, and Hunt expects that game to be a tough, physical battle.
“Oh, most definitely,” Hunt said if Thursday’s brawl adds to the intensity of the return matchup. “It’s going to be another fight, probably not like that, but it’s going to be another actual football fight.”