Chaos broke out late in the game, a 21-7 loss that dropped the Steelers to 5-5, when Rudolph said he was upset by Garrett’s late hit. He was already bothered because the Steelers had lost top receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson on violent helmet-to-helmet hits.
“The way I saw it, on the final play of the game with the game in hand the way it was, it had been, we had already lost two of our players to targeting penalties from the game,’’ Rudolph said, reading from a statement. “As I released the ball, I took a late shot. Did not agree with way he took me to the ground and my natural reaction was to get him from off on top of me. And again, I should have done a better job of handling that situation.”
Rudolph tried to grab Garrett by the helmet as they lay on the ground and, when he failed, Garrett grabbed Rudolph’s face mask and Rudolph kicked at the defender. That’s when Garrett ripped off Rudolph’s helmet and the quarterback charged at him, with Garrett striking him over the head with it. While that was going on, other players also got involved, with Garrett, Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey immediately ejected.
In addition to Garrett’s indefinite suspension, Pouncey was suspended for three games and Ogunjobi for one.
“Looking back on the final play of the game or the second-to-last play of the game, I fell short of the mark there, too,” Rudolph said. “Should have done a better job of keeping my cool in that situation. In retrospect, I put Maurkice Pouncey, probably one of the best teammates I’ve ever had, in a tough spot as well as my teammates.”
Mason Rudolph addressed the Thursday incident in a prepared statement and brief Q&A before walk through.— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) November 20, 2019
“I consider it a privilege, not a right to be a part of the NFL. To be part of a first class organization ... and I fell short of that expectation last Thursday night.” pic.twitter.com/2OHiDWLEBm
Rudolph said he expected to be fined for his role in the fracas.
“I’m sure whatever the league hands out, I’m going to comply with that,’’ he said. “We’ll see what happens. I have not received anything yet.”
“I have no ill will toward Myles Garrett, great respect for his ability as a player, and I know if Myles could go back he would handle the situation differently,’’ he said. “As for my involvement last week, there is no acceptable excuse. The bottom line is I should have done a better job keeping my composure in that situation. It falls short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and a member of the NFL. I understand there’s going to be a few questions but I think it’s in the best interest of our team, my teammates, our coaches to kind of move forward from this and move things on to the Cincinnati Bengals and keep on trying to stack some wins here.”
Garrett tried to put the incident behind him, too, when his suspension was announced on Friday.
“Last night, I made a terrible mistake,” he said in a statement. “I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions, and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward. I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake, and I fully intend to do so.”
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