This is not the first game that the Pittsburgh Steelers have played against the Cleveland Browns since Myles Garrett attacked Mason Rudolph with the quarterback’s own helmet. That literally came just weeks later, though Garrett was at the time serving an indefinite suspension for his behavior.
This is not the first time that the Steelers will play the Browns in a game in which both Garrett and Rudolph were active. It won’t even be the first in which both got into the game. That occurred earlier this year when Pittsburgh blew out Cleveland, 38-7.
It will, however, be the first game in which Garrett will see Rudolph at quarterback in meaningful snaps. With the Steelers having clinched the AFC North, they will be resting Ben Roethlisberger. Meanwhile, the Browns must win the game to ensure their first postseason berth in nearly two decades. Will that make a difference? Not according to either sideline.
Head coach Mike Tomlin spoke to the Cleveland media earlier today, during which he was asked multiple times about the incident between Rudolph and Garrett and how he would handle it. “I will not”, he said. “I will not address it. There will be no need for that”.
What do people think is going to happen, anyway? Does anybody really think that Garrett is going to go out there and assault Rudolph again? Of course he’s not. And Garrett has already played against this team since the incident, and they took no ‘revenge’ on him then, so it wouldn’t happen now in a game that is meaningless for them, risking a suspension for a postseason game.
“That is so far in our rearview mirror that we can’t see it”, he added when asked if he feels Rudolph is past the incident. “Again, we left ’19 in ’19. There is no residue from that from my perspective or our perspective”, he said when asked about what he discussed with Garrett when the two spoke prior to their last matchup.
For his own part, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski struck a similar note when fielding similar questions. Of course, the incident with Garrett did not happen under his watch, as he was on the Minnesota Vikings’ coaching staff at the time.
“I think we are well past that incident, both Myles and our team”, he said. “We talk about maintaining our composure in every single game. It is nothing new to this week. We have to make sure that we are keeping the main thing the main thing and focusing on our work”.
Garrett has, for the record, been penalized six times this year, as much as any Browns defender. All of them were pre-snap penalties for offside, neutral zone infraction, and encroachment, which are all loosely variations of the same penalty. None of which involve assault.