The NFL declined to comment through a spokesman immediately after the game. But the league will begin a review that could result in a lengthy suspension for Garrett, the Browns acknowledged.
“That’s not who Myles wants to be,” Browns Coach Freddie Kitchens said at his postgame news conference. “That’s not who we’re gonna be. You have to be able to maintain your composure in times like that. In no circumstances do we want anything to do with anything like that. I’m embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It’s not good. He understands what he did. He understands it’s totally unacceptable, and we’ve got to get through this.”
Rudolph, who attempted to pull off Garrett’s helmet during the fracas, said he was “fine” and uninjured.
“I thought it was pretty cowardly, pretty bush league,” Rudolph said. “There’s plenty of tape out there to watch.”
Garrett, speaking to reporters in the Browns’ locker room after the game, called his actions embarrassing and foolish.
“I made a mistake,” Garrett said. “I lost my cool, and I regret it’s gonna come back to hurt our team. The guys who jumped into the scrum, I appreciate my team having my back. But it should never have gotten that far. It’s on me.”
Garrett, the Browns’ Larry Ogunjobi and the Steelers’ Maurkice Pouncey were ejected from the game. But Garrett’s actions drew, by far, the most scrutiny.
“The reality is he’s gonna get suspended,” Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield told Fox after the game. “We don’t know how long. And that hurts our team, and we can’t do that. We can’t continue to hurt this team. It’s inexcusable.”
Garrett’s act was reminiscent of the 2006 incident in which defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth, then with the Tennessee Titans, stomped on the head of Dallas Cowboys offensive lineman Andre Gurode after a play. Gurode needed 30 stitches. The NFL suspended Haynesworth for five games. It was the league’s longest suspension for an on-field act until Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the final 12 games of this season for an illegal hit, based on his repeat-offender status.
“I didn’t see why it started but it’s inexcusable,” Mayfield said. “I don’t care, rivalry or not. We can’t do that. That’s kind of the history of what’s been going on here lately, hurting yourself. That’s just endangering the other team. It’s inexcusable. He knows that. I hope he does now. It’s tough. We’ll see.”
The brawl began when Garrett hit Rudolph after a throw. As the two wrestled on the ground, Rudolph attempted to pull Garrett’s helmet off. Players on both teams ended up scuffling in the end zone. Garrett, while being held by Steelers guard David DeCastro, managed to swing the helmet at Rudolph’s head and strike him. Pouncey later could be seen hitting and kicking Garrett.
“This is barbaric, is what this is,” analyst Troy Aikman said on the Fox broadcast.
Rudolph said at his postgame news conference that Garrett “had some words” after the hit and “one thing led to another.”
Garrett said he had “no clue” if he would be suspended for the remainder of the season. He said he planned to address his teammates Friday about the incident.
“That is embarrassing,” Garrett said. “What I did was foolish. I shouldn’t have allowed myself to slip like that. That’s out of character. But a situation like that where it’s an emotional game. ... I allowed myself to fall into those emotions.”
Pouncey told reporters in the Steelers’ locker room that he was “in protection mode” and would accept any penalty he’s given by the league. He said that Garrett should be suspended for the rest of the season.
“Absolutely, 100 percent,” Pouncey said. “We’ll see how serious the NFL is about the players.”
The Browns secured their second victory at home in a five-day span, following Sunday’s triumph over the Buffalo Bills, to improve to 4-6. They ended Pittsburgh’s winning streak at four games and pulled to within a game of the Steelers, who are 5-5, for second place in the AFC North.
Mayfield ran for a touchdown and threw for two more for the Browns. Cleveland intercepted Rudolph four times, two of them by linebacker Joe Schobert.
It was a painful night for the Steelers. Tailback James Conner and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster left the game in the first half. Conner reinjured his shoulder, and Smith-Schuster suffered a concussion when he absorbed a hit attempting to make a catch. Wideout Dionte Johnson was declared out for the remainder of the game after being evaluated for a concussion following an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit by Browns safety Damarious Randall in the second half. The hit was penalized and Randall was ejected.
11:24 PM: Browns put game away?
The Browns cashed in on an interception thrown by Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to perhaps put the game away with an eight-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to rookie tight end Stephen Carlson. Rudolph threw a pass directly to linebacker Joe Schobert for the third interception of the night thrown by Rudolph, and the second by Schobert. That gave the Browns possession of the ball at the Pittsburgh 4-yard line. They went backwards until Mayfield made a risky third-down pass to Carlson. But the undrafted rookie from Princeton made an excellent grab above Pittsburgh’s Mark Barron in the back of the end zone for his first NFL catch. (Browns 21, Steelers 7 with 5:25 left in the 4th quarter)
10:58 PM: Steelers fail on fourth down
The Steelers had a great chance to pull even but failed on a fourth-and-one try from the Cleveland 32-yard line. Mason Rudolph threw a fourth-down incompletion. The Steelers opted to throw the ball deep on third and one, also for an incompletion. (Browns 14, Steelers 7 with 13:25 left in the 4th quarter)
10:53 PM: Another miss for Seibert
Browns kicker Austin Seibert missed his second field goal attempt of the night, sending his kick well right from 50 yards as time expired in the third quarter. The Browns got no points out of a 12-play drive and the Steelers are still in the game entering the fourth quarter. (Browns 14, Steelers 7 at end of the 3rd quarter)
10:41 PM: Steelers cut lead in half
The Steelers are back in the game, thanks to a flurry of penalties on the Cleveland defense. Mason Rudolph threw a three-yard touchdown pass to running back Jaylen Samuels. That capped an 87-yard drive for the Steelers on which the Browns had four penalties, including a 38-yard pass interference call on cornerback Greedy Williams. (Browns 14, Steelers 7 with 5:39 left in the 3rd quarter)
10:35 PM: Browns’ Randall ejected
Browns safety Damarious Randall was ejected for an illegal helmet-to-helmet hit on Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson on an incompletion. Randall was penalized for the hit by the on-field officials, and the ejection was ordered after consultation with the NFL’s officiating department in New York. Browns fans were booing even as Johnson was helped from the field and taken to the medical tent on the Steelers’ sideline. Randall appeared upset by the ejection. But it was an egregious illegal hit and the ejection was justified. (Browns 14, Steelers 0 with 8:05 left in the 3rd quarter)
10:04 PM: Halftime in Cleveland
The Steelers have spent the past month reassembling their once-broken season. The Browns are one game into their attempted recovery program. But on this night, at least so far, it’s looking far more promising for the Browns than for the Steelers. They lead the Steelers, 14-0, with quarterback Baker Mayfield accounting for two touchdowns. He scored one of them via a one-yard quarterback sneak. Mayfield also threw a one-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Mayfield threw for 151 yards in the first half on 11-for-19 passing. He got wideout Odell Beckham Jr. involved with a 42-yard completion that set up the Browns’ first touchdown. A 41-yard strike to unheralded wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge led to the second touchdown. Nothing is going right for the Steelers, who began the night with a four-game winning streak. Quarterback Mason Rudolph threw an interception and the Steelers had only 104 yards of total offense. Tailback James Conner reinjured his shoulder. Wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster suffered a concussion on a hit while attempting to make a catch. They’ve been ruled out from returning to the game. So, too, have cornerback Artie Burns, with a knee injury, and linebacker Ola Adeniyi, with a concussion. (Browns 14, Steelers 0 at halftime)
Cleveland failed to add to its lead when kicker Austin Seibert missed a 45-yard field goal attempt. He sent the kick wide right. The Browns failed to capitalize on an interception by safety Morgan Burnett of a pass by Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. (Browns 14, Steelers 0 with 2:31 left in the 2nd quarter)
9:34 PM: Smith-Schuster, Conner hurt
Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was hurt after absorbing a hit while attempting to make a catch. He remained on the turf while members of the Steelers’ medical staff examined him and then was able to get up and walk off the field. He was taken to the locker room. Tailback James Conner is questionable to return to the game after re-injuring his shoulder. (Browns 14, Steelers 0 with 9:08 left in the 2nd quarter)
9:23 PM: Browns double lead
The Browns are dominating the Steelers so far. They doubled their lead with a one-yard touchdown pass from Baker Mayfield to wide receiver Jarvis Landry, who was left uncovered in the end zone by the Pittsburgh defense. The star of the Cleveland drive was unheralded wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge. He had a 41-yard catch then drew a pass interference penalty in the end zone to set up the touchdown. (Browns 14, Steelers 0 with 9:55 left in the 2nd quarter)
9:12 PM: Steelers struggling on offense
Pittsburgh isn’t doing much on offense so far. The Steelers’ four possessions have resulted in three punts and a missed field goal. They have only three first downs and are being shut out by the Browns. (Browns 7, Steelers 0 with 13:58 left in the 2nd quarter)
8:50 PM: Steelers miss FG
It’s been a bad start for the Steelers. Chris Boswell missed a 44-yard field goal attempt after a less-than-smooth snap-and-hold operation. (Browns 7, Steelers 0 with 7:47 left in the 1st quarter)
8:43 PM: Browns take early lead
The Browns scored first on a one-yard touchdown by Baker Mayfield on a quarterback sneak. The touchdown came a play after Mayfield connected with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. on a 42-yard pass to the 1-yard line. Beckham beat cornerback Steven Nelson, who was in one-on-one coverage, on a post pattern and hauled in Mayfield’s on-target throw. It was the sort of big play the Browns envisioned when they traded for Beckham in the offseason. Such highlights have been lacking so far this season. Beckham originally was credited with a 43-yard touchdown, but he was ruled down by contact short of the goal line on a replay review. Mayfield completed all four of his passes on the drive, including a deflected throw that ended up in the hands of one of his offensive linemen for a five-yard loss. He compensated for that with a 20-yard connection to running back Kareem Hunt on a third-and-eight play. (Browns 7, Steelers 0 with 11:07 left in the 1st quarter)
4:30 PM: How to watch tonight’s game
When: 8:20 p.m. Eastern time
Where: First Energy Stadium in Cleveland
Streaming: Amazon Prime, Yahoo Sports
Back in training camp and the preseason, the Browns were the trendy pick to win the division after trading for wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to team with second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield. The Steelers and Baltimore Ravens were the traditional AFC North powers saying they didn’t care much about all the Browns hype and were eager to see how things would play out on the field.
So much has happened since then. The Ravens have been the class of the division thus far, as their own second-year quarterback, Lamar Jackson, has become a star and a league MVP contender.
The Steelers are two games behind the Ravens in the division race and in the thick of the wild-card chase, thanks to their resurgence. They’ll continue to rely on fill-in quarterback Mason Rudolph, who became the starter when Ben Roethlisberger underwent season-ending elbow surgery, and they’ll hope for improved production from tailback James Conner and wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster. Conner returns from a shoulder injury. Smith-Schuster has totaled only six catches for 60 yards in the last two games and has only one 100-yard receiving game this season.
On defense, safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has become a standout since being acquired in a trade that was part of the Miami Dolphins’ dismantling.
The Browns have a record of 3-6 after beating the playoff-contending Buffalo Bills at home Sunday. That was a nice win for the Browns and alleviated some of the scrutiny on Coach Freddie Kitchens and Mayfield. But more — much more — must be done if the Browns are going to follow the Steelers in getting back into the playoff mix.
Mayfield has struggled mightily in his second NFL season with nine touchdown passes, 12 interceptions and a passer rating of 75.2. But he played well and avoided mistakes against the Bills, with two touchdown passes and no interceptions.
Beckham too often has been a non-factor in the offense. He has one fewer catch than fellow wideout Jarvis Landry’s 45 and 20 fewer receiving yards than Landry’s 652. Together, they make a dangerous receiving duo. But the Browns didn’t trade for Beckham to have him be a No. 2 wideout. Their offense has been built to this point around tailback Nick Chubb, who has 919 rushing yards and is averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Defensive end Myles Garrett has 10 sacks and is the centerpiece of Cleveland’s defense. The Browns will be without defensive end Olivier Vernon, who is sidelined with a knee injury.