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Tomlin: Brawl vs. Browns “ugly for the game of football�?

Tue Nov 19 4:22pm ET
By WILL GRAVES
AP Sports Writer

Players: James Conner, Mason Rudolph, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Kerrith Whyte Jr., Deon Cain, Benny Snell Jr.

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin watches during the first half of the team's NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)


PITTSBURGH (AP) Steelers coach Mike Tomlin accepted his team’s role in the now-infamous fight last Thursday night that ended with Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett hitting Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with Rudolph’s own helmet.

Just don’t expect Tomlin to use the video of a brawl he called “ugly for the game of football” as a teachable moment. He doesn’t think one is required.

“I don't know that we did anything to make it happen in the first place,” Tomlin said Tuesday. “That's why I said we didn't have anything to learn from it."

Garrett and Rudolph became tangled up after Garrett took Rudolph to the ground shortly after the quarterback let go of a pass in the final seconds of Cleveland’s 21-7 win.

In the chaos that ensued, Rudolph grabbed the back of Garrett’s helmet and pulled. Garrett responded by snatching Rudolph’s facemask and ripping Rudolph’s helmet off. Steelers guard David DeCastro attempted to intervene, pushing Garrett away. Rudolph gave chase and Garrett swung Rudolph’s helmet, connecting with Rudolph’s head in the process.

“All of us that are involved in the game, particularly at this level, want to safeguard and protect the game, it’s integrity,” Tomlin said. “And in that instance, it was compromised, obviously with an unfortunate incident. None of us want those things to transpire. It did. We were a part of it. We accept responsibility of our actions within it."

Garrett received an indefinite suspension from the NFL, which also fined both teams $250,000. Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey earned a three-game ban for punching and kicking at Garrett in the aftermath and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi was suspended one game for knocking down Rudolph from behind.

All three players are appealing the respective rulings and with the AFC North rivals meeting again in less than two weeks, the debate over who’s to blame for what isn’t likely to die down anytime soon.

Outside of owning up to his team’s actions and hinting the Browns started it, Tomlin declined to get into detail, saying only “we have some people going through appeals and so forth, I don't want to jeopardize that in any way."

More pressing for Tomlin than trying to assess blame is finding a way to get Pittsburgh (5-5) back on track following its worst performance since a season-opening 30-point loss to New England.

While the outside world fixated on the unprecedented punishment handed out by the league, Tomlin was more focused on the 59 minutes and 52 seconds that came before things got out of hand. Long before Garrett and Rudolph went at it, the Browns had beat up and beaten down the Steelers.

“It's easy to seek comfort in that sidebar distraction and not talk about what really needs to be talked about from our perspective, is that we played a losing football game,” Tomlin said. “We didn't execute well enough in all three phases to secure victory."

Pittsburgh will try to stay in the playoff mix on Sunday at winless Cincinnati (0-10) but will likely do it without Pouncey, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and running back James Conner. The odds of Pouncey’s suspension being lifted completely are slim. Smith-Schuster is dealing with a concussion and Conner aggravated the shoulder injury that forced him to miss two games last month.

Rookie running back Benny Snell Jr. could return after missing a month with a knee injury, but even if he’s able to play Pittsburgh’s skill position group remains a mish-mash of players, most of whom began the season far down the depth chart either with the Steelers or elsewhere. Pittsburgh signed rookie wide receiver Deon Cain and rookie running back Kerrith Whyte Jr. - both practice squad players with other teams - to the 53-man roster earlier this week. There’s a chance one or both could be on the field Sunday.

“The bottom line is our jobs is to win games regardless of circumstance and so that's our focus,” Tomlin said. “I really don't spend a lot of time crying over who's available or who's not available. It's as much a part of the game as blocking and tackling. If you're a competitor like we as coaches are competitors, that fires you up. You want to smile in the face of adversity and deliver and so that's our focus."

Player Notes
Philip Rivers Jan 20 1:50pm ET

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From RotoBaller

J.J. Watt Jan 20 1:10pm ET

Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel has been fired, and defensive line coach Anthony Weaver has been promoted in his place, according to league sources. Houston's defense was a liability for most of the year, especially their leaky secondary. The Texans allowed 51 points and seven straight touchdown drives to the Chiefs in the Divisional Round loss. During the 2019 season, Houston's defense allowed 388.3 yards per game (fifth worst), 267.3 passing yards per game (fourth worst), 121.1 rushing yards a game and 24.1 points per game. Getting J.J. Watt back healthy for a full season will be a start to the Texans rebounding on defense under Weaver.

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Luke Kuechly Jan 20 1:00pm ET

The Carolina Panthers hired former Baylor defensive coordinator Phil Snow as their new defensive coordinator on Monday. Snow oversaw the defenses for Matt Rhule at both Baylor and Temple. He has 37 years of college coaching experience and has also served as a defensive coordinator at UCLA, Washington, Arizona State and Boise State. Snow coached four seasons in the NFL with the Lions from 2005 to 2008 when he worked with the team's linebackers. Snow will lead a Carolina defense in 2020 that will be without All-Pro linebacker Luke Kuechly, who recently announced his retirement from football.

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Jan 20 8:43am ET

Houston Texans defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is not expected back in 2020. Defensive line coach Anthony Weaver is the top candidate to replace him.

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Tevin Coleman Jan 20 2:03am ET

Updating a previous report, San Francisco 49ers RB Tevin Coleman (shoulder) has a 'good chance' to be available for the Super Bowl, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan.

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Jaire Alexander Jan 20 12:53am ET

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Green Bay Packers Jan 19 11:50pm ET

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From RotoBaller

Jimmy Graham Jan 19 11:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham caught four of five targets for 59 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Graham was a big disappointment this season in a year filled with disappointing tight ends. The 33-year-old put up the lowest numbers since his rookie season and never really put together a good stretch of play until very recently. Graham has one year left on his contract worth about 7.5 million dollars. Given how much of a bust he was, perhaps Green Bay cuts ties with him and goes younger at the position in 2020.

From RotoBaller

Geronimo Allison Jan 19 11:30pm ET

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Allen Lazard Jan 19 11:20pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard caught three of four targets for 36 yards in a 37-20 loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Lazard may not have made much noise in the two playoff games but flashed some potential in the regular season, including his first career 100-yard game. Rodgers started to develop a little chemistry with the 6-foot-4 wideout late in the season, as he looked his way 17 times in the last two contests. It would be surprising if Lazard were the number-two receiver for the Packers next year, though it still makes sense for them to bring him back in some capacity. Lazard has some sleeper potential if he's catching passes from Rodgers in 2020.

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Patrick Mahomes Jan 19 11:13pm ET

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Raheem Mostert Jan 19 11:13pm ET

San Francisco 49ers RB Raheem Mostert rushed for 220 yards and four touchdowns on 29 carries in a 37-20 win over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday, Jan. 19, becoming the first player in NFL history to rush for at least 200 yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.

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Davante Adams Jan 19 11:00pm ET

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Jamaal Williams Jan 19 10:40pm ET

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Jimmy Garoppolo Jan 19 10:23pm ET

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Aaron Rodgers Jan 19 10:03pm ET

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Jaire Alexander Jan 19 9:13pm ET

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Tevin Coleman Jan 19 8:53pm ET

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