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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
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Jimmy Garoppolo Dec 6 11:40pm ET

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Jimmy Graham Dec 6 11:30pm ET

Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham gets a good matchup against the Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, it doesn't matter because the 32-year-old has seen a steady decline in snaps over the last three weeks. Graham even had a touchdown snatched away from him by backup tight end Mercedes Lewis. There's also the fact that he's registered only one catch in back-to-back games. Even the neediest of tight end needy fantasy owners should stay away from Graham this week.

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Allen Lazard Dec 6 11:10pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Allen Lazard will take on the Washington Redskins in Week 14. The rookie had a career-high 103 receiving yards against the Giants last week. Lazard has out-snapped fellow receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling in three consecutive games. Unfortunately, that role hasn't lent a ton of volume, as his season-high for targets is six. Still, Aaron Rodgers seems to trust him- and he doesn't throw trust around lightly. It's worth noting that each of his three catches from last week went for 20-plus yards, giving him a boom-or-bust outlook. It's best to avoid Lazard this week.

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Davante Adams Dec 6 10:40pm ET

Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams gets a Week 14 matchup with the Washington Redskins. Adams is on a hot streak, with at least seven catches in four straight games and three touchdowns in his last two contests combined. He's been the Packers' undisputed number-one pass catcher this year, with 79 targets in eight games- the next closest is Aaron Jones with 52 in 12 games. That kind of volume makes him a must-start every week and especially against Washington. Like the Giants, the Redskins don't have anyone who can slow Adams down. Start him as a high-end WR1 this week.

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George Kittle Dec 6 10:30pm ET

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Tevin Coleman Dec 6 10:20pm ET

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Jamaal Williams Dec 6 9:50pm ET

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Brandin Cooks Dec 6 8:50pm ET

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Greg Zuerlein Dec 6 8:50pm ET

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Los Angeles Rams Dec 6 8:50pm ET

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Aaron Donald Dec 6 8:50pm ET

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Jared Goff Dec 6 8:40pm ET

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Aaron Jones Dec 6 8:40pm ET

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Aaron Rodgers Dec 6 8:20pm ET

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