Last night, Browns defensive end Myles Garrett and Steelers quarterback engaged in a series of events that touched off an ugly brawl. With no rooting interest, it’s rather simple to break the situation down sans emotion, impulse or overreaction. Regardless of where you stand, the NFL will fall hard upon so many about their actions during their game.
Early on, this contentious game saw its fair share of jawing and gesticulating. When the Steelers and Browns play, decorum takes a holiday. Almost every play saw talking and pointing. Now, that doesn’t excuse the following events, but sets the stage. On a pass play, Steelers wideout Juju Smith-Schuster suffered a concussion via helmet-to-helmet hit. Browns defensive backs Morgan Burnett and Greedy Williams collided with Smith-Schuster.
After that, Steelers’ wideout Diontae Johnson met the same fate. Demarious Randall struck the defenseless receiver, concussing him. Medical staff helped Johnson to the locker room, bleeding from the ear and unable to walk under his own steam. From this point, the mood changed.
This game, like most Thursday night tilts, are not tremendously exciting. At times, the action seems half-speed and stunted. The teams combined for fourteen penalties and 162 yards. From the mugging downfield to head shots, nothing about this game will be remembered for being pretty.
As the game drew to a close, Myles Garrett tackled Mason Rudolph. Rudolph objected, since he did not possess the ball. As a result, Rudolph tried to remove Garrett’s helmet. Now, on the ground, Rudolph uses his foot to kick at Garrett’s groin. Now, Garrett detaches Rudolph’s helmet. Rudolph mysteriously confronts Garrett, with players between them. Garrett brings the helmet down upon Rudolph’s head. Steelers center Mike Pouncey, while Garrett is on the ground, begins to kick Garrett.
In all honesty, Mason Rudolph’s actions started this entire incident. He needs to incur a fair share of the blame. First, why did he attempt to snatch Garrett’s helmet? What purpose did the suit? With so much attention on head injury, opposing players should never touch the helmet. Next, in the fray, video shows Rudolph’s full pressing near Garrett’s cup region. He needs a sizable fine for all of his instigator actions.
Granted, Pouncey will see a suspension for kicking, He should. However, Pouncey did what a great teammate does.He attempted to protect Rudolph, If you are honest, that makes him a leader. Garrett, a monster of a player would split Rudolph, if left to his own devices. Yet, Pouncey rose to the occasion.
Regardless of what Rudolph did to start this incident, Garrett lost control. Removing a fitted helmet is dangerous in itself. Yet, swinging the helmet like a weapon is a glaring lapse in judgement and an act that the league will meet with serious consequences. Don’t be surprised if Garrett does not play for the rest of the season.
With the multiple helmet-to-helmet hits and general demeanor, the Browns coach has effectively lost control of his team. Three of his defensive backs went high on two Steelers receivers. I will make the distinction, the Cleveland Browns are out of control. The culpability falls squarely on his shoulders. The team feels as though they’re allowed to act any way. From Antonio Callaway showing up late to practice to former safeties offering to beatdown fans and media alike, the team does not appear cohesive.
Given these points, the Browns lose, even when they win. Their best defender will face a severe penalty. Additionally, Mason Rudolph running up on Myles Garrett, while his teammates held him, is not innocent. If he stays away, this does not degenerate. Lastly, Myles Garrett just earned himself a reputation of being reckless. The only hero in all of this is Mike Pouncey. Standing up for a dimwitted teammate shows leadership. Overall, this incident gives the NFL another black eye.