On Thursday, an altercation between Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph escalated when Garrett swung Rudolph’s helmet at his head, causing a fight to break out between the teams that ended in multiple ejections. On Friday, the league handed down punishment from the incident, suspending Garrett and two other players, with the Browns star receiving an indefinite suspension that will span at least the remainder of the 2019 regular season and playoffs.

Garrett’s actions drew condemnation not only from Steelers players after the game but his own teammates and others around the league as well. Below, you can find everything you need to know about the initial altercation, the fight that ensued, and the fallout after the final whistle.

What happened

With the Steelers facing a 21-7 deficit and just 14 seconds left in the game, Rudolph threw a pass to Trey Edmunds on third-and-29 that gained 11 yards before Edmunds ran out of bounds. Just after Rudolph released the ball, Garrett wrapped him in a bear hug and continued to play, eventually wrestling the quarterback to the ground.

The two players continued to engage on the ground, and when both started to get to their feet, Garrett ripped Rudolph’s helmet off his head as Steelers guard David DeCastro tried to push him away from the quarterback. Once Rudolph got back to his feet, he continued to pursue Garrett, who swung Rudolph’s helmet around DeCastro, landing a blow to Rudolph’s head.

That, in turn, caused Rudolph, who appeared to escape serious injury at the moment, to turn and look for a flag. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey immediately entered the fray, throwing several punches at Garrett’s helmeted head and kicking the Browns defender after DeCastro took him to the ground. Meanwhile, another Browns defensive lineman, Larry Ogunjobi, shoved Rudolph back to the ground as he continued to apparently look for the officials’ flags.

At that point, several players from both teams had joined the fracas and the officials were eventually able to regain control without any further major incident.

Offsetting penalties were called on Garrett, Pouncey, and Ogunjobi, with all three players also being disqualified from the game.

Once play resumed, the Steelers ran for four yards on fourth-and-long before the Browns took a knee and ran out the clock.

Postgame reactions

Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was interviewed on the field after the game and wasted no time in condemning Garrett’s actions.

“I don’t care, rivalry or not we can’t do that … That’s endangering the other team,” Mayfield said. “That’s inexcusable. He knows that — I hope he does now. It’s tough.”

Browns coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters “we don’t condone that” and said Garrett “understands what he did wrong.”

Garrett addressed the incident after the game as well, saying he “made a mistake.”

“I lost my cool and I regret it. … It’s going to come back to hurt our team,” Garrett said. “The guys who jumped in the scrum, I appreciate my teammates having my back, but it shouldn’t have gotten that far. That’s on me.”

Garrett also added that “a win’s a win” and claimed what happened at the end shouldn’t overshadow the defense’s play prior to the fight.

“A win’s a win,” he said. “I don’t think it’s overshadowed by what happened in 8 seconds. What we did for the first 59 minutes shouldn’t go unnoticed.”  

Rudolph had plenty to say about the fight as well.

“Where did it cross the line? Maybe where he took my helmet off and used it as a weapon,” Rudolph said. “I know it was bush-league. It was a total coward move on his part. It’s OK. I’ll take it. I’m not gonna back down from any bully.”

Pouncey told reporters after the game that he blacked out after seeing Garrett swing a helmet at his quarterback, and that he was unconcerned about any punishment from his actions.

“At this point, who cares?” Pouncey said. “My man got hit in the head with a helmet. I’ll accept whatever penalty it is.”

NFL hands down suspensions

On Friday, the NFL announced that Garrett, Pouncey, and Ogunjobi would all be suspended for their roles in the altercation, with Garrett receiving the most serious punishment. Per the NFL:

“Garrett has been suspended without pay indefinitely — at a minimum of the remainder of the regular season and postseason — and must meet with the commissioner’s office prior to a decision on his reinstatement. He was also fined an additional amount. Garrett violated the unnecessary roughness and unsportsmanlike conduct rules, as well as fighting, removing the helmet of an opponent and using the helmet as a weapon.”

Pouncey was suspended three games, which he is expected to appeal, while Ogunjobi received a one-game suspension. You can see the entire statement and read more about the punishment here.

Rudolph won’t escape scot-free either, as he will be fined by the NFL at some point Friday as well. You can read more about Rudolph’s penalty here.

The Pick Six Podcast fired up an emergency episode after news of the suspensions came down. Check it out below and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform:

Reactions around NFL

Other NFL players weighed in on the fight, with former Steelers linebacker James Harrison calling Garrett’s actions “assault,” Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt using the word “insanity,” and several players saying Garrett shouldn’t play another down in 2019. You can see more of those reactions here.

Saints pass rusher Cameron Jordan believes Rudolph shoulders plenty of blame himself. Read more about why Jordan is upset with what went down here.  

Former Texans running back Arian Foster took a different angle, saying that “if you watch football, you condone assault.” You can read more about Foster’s comments here.

Former Broncos and Cowboys pass rusher DeMarcus Ware also had plenty to say about the incident and wants to focus on the root cause of violence in the NFL. “But my question is: are we going to get to the problem of what triggered it?” Ware said. “What causes the violence in the NFL when so many kids look at us as role models?” Myles Garrett, Mason Rudolph helmet fight: DeMarcus Ware is angry and wants to get ‘to the bottom of it’.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick also addressed the situation in his Friday presser, while former Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley said the blame falls on the coach in this situation. 

The other 59 minutes

As Garrett alluded to in his postgame comments, there were 59 minutes of game action before the incident in the final minute. The Browns controlled the game from start to finish, but Garrett’s actions didn’t comprise the only questionable play, as another Browns defender was ejected earlier for a brutal hit on a receiver. You can read about that here, and the rest of the action in our takeaways from the game, including several other Steelers players who were ruled out due to injury.

Not Garrett’s first incident

This isn’t the first time Garrett has engaged in questionable actions during the course of a football game. Back in Week 1, Garrett threw a punch at Titans tight end Delanie Walker after the whistle had blown a play dead. He was fined more than $42,000 for hits on the quarterback the following week as well.

You can read more about Garrett’s history with on-field incidents here, and you can also check out the 10 worst brawls in NFL history here.

Rudolph’s attorney releases statement

Younger & Associates, a law firm that also serves as Rudolph’s agent, said via Twitter that Garrett’s actions against his client will be “reviewed thoroughly.”

“The chain reaction began here with a very late take down following a pass. Very late. That happens every Sunday. It is typically followed by pushing and shoving, even by the QB, and that usually ends it. However, what followed tonight cannot be defended by reasonable minds.

“There are many risks an NFL QB assumes with every snap taken on the field. Being hit on your uncovered head by a helmet being swung by a 275 lb DE is not one of them. Tonight could have had a catastrophic ending. The matter will be reviewed thoroughly.”

Read more about the potential legal ramifications here.

Garrett apologizes to Rudolph

Garrett issued a statement on Friday after his suspension was handed down.

“Last night, I made a terrible mistake. 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.” 

Read more about Garrett’s apology here.

Where Browns go from here

SportsLine data engineer Stephen Oh calls the loss of Garrett for the season “severe,” as his numbers have the Browns losing a half-win on their expected record without their top pass rusher. Their simulated playoff chances drop from 21.2% to 12.2% without Garrett.

More projections related to Garrett’s suspension can be found below.

  WIN WIN% DIVISION PLAYOFF CONF CHAMP
with Garrett 7.7 48.1% 2.0% 21.2% 1.0% 0.4%
w/o Garrett 7.2 45.0% 0.9% 12.2% 0.4% 0.2%
Difference -0.5 -3.1% -1.1% -9.0% -0.6% -0.2%


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