CLEVELAND — Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett was ejected Thursday after pulling the helmet off of Pittsburgh's Mason Rudolph and then striking the Steelers quarterback in the bare head with the helmet.
Two other players also were tossed in the aftermath of an ugly brawl that occurred with eight seconds remaining in the Browns' 21-7 home win.
Scrapping with Rudolph after a play, Garrett yanked Rudolph's helmet off by the facemask and — while being restrained by Steelers offensive linemen David DeCastro and Matt Feiler -- swung it deliberately and made contact with the top of Rudolph's head.
"It was bush league," Rudolph, who was uninjured, told reporters afterward. "Total coward move on his part. I get it. I mean it's OK, though. I'll take it. I'm not going to back down from any bully out there."
Rudolph did not initially fall from the hit by the helmet, as he turned to officials with his hands raised, but Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi charged at him from behind and shoved him to the ground.
Meanwhile, DeCastro tackled Garrett, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey jumped on the pile and threw several punches at Garrett before kicking at him once and throwing more punches.
After conferring with replay officials in New York, referee Clete Blakeman ejected Garrett, Ogunjobi and Pouncey. That made four ejections in the game, after Browns safety Damarious Randall was disqualified following a helmet-to-helmet hit that concussed Steelers wideout Diontae Johnson in the third quarter.
The late fracas began as Rudolph flipped a screen pass and was wrapped up by Garrett, who did not let go and slowly dragged Rudolph to the ground as the quarterback resisted. Once on the ground, Rudolph grabbed at Garrett's facemask and helmet, and the two continued to scrap as DeCastro pulled Garrett off and Feiler tried to separate the two.
Then came the helmet removal. That prompted Rudolph to get up and chase after Garrett, which is when the defensive end swung the helmet.
"I made a mistake, I lost my cool," Garrett told reporters afterward. "It's going to come back to hurt our team. The guys who jumped in the scrum, I appreciate my teammates having my back, but it shouldn't have gotten that far. That's on me. ...
"Absolutely, that is embarrassing. What I did was foolish, and I shouldn't have allowed myself to do stuff like that. It's out of character. But in a situation like that where it's an emotional game like (Ogunjobi) said, and I can't allow myself to fall into those emotions."
Rudolph, who was concussed and knocked unconscious by a helmet-to-helmet hit earlier this year, also took an inadvertent shot to the back of the head from Feiler, who was walking to confront Ogunjobi as Rudolph was getting up from Ogunjobi's hit. Rudolph remained in the game to run one more play.
"I'm fine," Rudolph said afterward. "I'm good. Good to go."
"I've never seen that in my life," Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens said postgame of Garrett. "I'm embarrassed, Myles is embarrassed. He understands what he did. He understands what he did is totally unacceptable."
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said at his press conference, "I'll keep my thoughts to myself. You guys saw what happened. No comment."
Pouncey told reporters afterward that Garrett should "absolutely" be suspended for the rest of the season.
"We'll see how serious the NFL is about their players," said Pouncey, who also said he didn't even remember what he did after Rudolph was hit.
Asked whether he faces a possible suspension, too, Pouncey replied, "At this point, who cares? My man got hit in the head with a helmet. I'll accept whatever penalty it is. ...
"At that point, it's bigger than football. It's protection. ... (Garrett) could have killed him. What if he'd hit in him the temple?"
Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield gave his perspective from the bench in a postgame interview with Fox.
"I didn't see why it started, but it's inexcusable," he said. "I don't care, rivalry or not, we can't do that. ... That's just endangering the other team. That's inexcusable. (Garrett) knows that.
"The reality of it, he's going to get suspended, and that's going to hurt our team. We don't know how long, but that hurts our team."
Talking to reporters later, Mayfield added that because of the brawl, "It feels like we lost."
The Browns beat the Steelers for the first time since October 2014. They had lost seven of the previous eight meetings, with the teams playing to a tie in the 2018 season opener at Cleveland.
"A win's a win," Garrett said. "I don't think it's overshadowed by what happened in eight seconds."
Garrett was fined $10,527 for an excessive facemask penalty in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans — a play some viewed as a punch — and then was fined $42,112 a week later for a roughing-the-passer penalty that injured New York Jets quarterback Trevor Siemian, ending his season.