One of the most curious things about the end of last night’s game, which saw Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett assault Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph with the man’s own helmet, is the very simple fact that these two teams are going to be playing each other once again in just two weeks’ time.
What is that going to be like? It’s hard to say. For one thing, I think I can state with a degree of confidence that Garrett will not be available for that game. He should be serving a fairly sizeable suspension by then, and may not play another snap in 2019 as a result of his actions.
But will Garrett’s absence cool the situation? Larry Ogunjobi, after all, blindsided Rudolph after the fact with a shove that sent him to the ground after he was hit on the head, and obviously did not have a helmet on at the time.
Even Garrett understands that it could create a problem for his teammates. “It will be a little bit more animosity, a little bit more of an understood—I don’t know if you can call it hatred, but however they feel about what happened”, he said of Steelers players’ response to his attack on their quarterback.
“It was an accident, but they are going to feel some type of way”, he added, foolishly, knowing full well that he didn’t accidentally swing at Rudolph’s head, but rather deliberately, even if not with forethought. “It was foolish on both parts”, he went on, “but they are going to protect their guy just like my guys are going to protect me. However that swings when we play them again, we’ll see”.
After Garrett struck Rudolph on the head, David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey drove him to the ground, with the latter dealing several blows with both his fists and his feet. Pouncey was ejected, as were Garrett and Ogunjobi.
The most incredible part of the incident is that multiple players from both sides of the ball said that they did not feel there was any mounting tension or chippiness as the game evolved. When asked about that possibility, for example, DeCastro said, “honestly, not really. I just think it was one of those weird plays we they kind of set each other off”. Garrett himself said there was no precursor.
By and large, there was nothing about this game that should have set off tensions to end the game the way it did. But with the assault that took place, how will that shape the dynamic for the next time around? The league may take harsh action in the meantime in the hopes of getting top of that before it has a chance to even happen.