A melee between the Cleveland Browns and the Pittsburgh Steelers late in their game Thursday night led to three ejections and calls for the N.F.L. to suspend Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, who pulled off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and then swung it at his head.
After the game, Garrett’s own quarterback, Baker Mayfield, called the attack “inexcusable” and said of Garrett, “The reality is he’s going to get suspended.”
The brawl began with eight seconds remaining in Cleveland’s 21-7 victory, after Rudolph completed a pass and was wrapped up by Garrett, who held on and dragged Rudolph to the ground. Still on the grass, Rudolph first tugged at Garrett’s helmet, and the two kept wrestling.
Other players started to separate the two, but Garrett reached over them and grabbed Rudolph’s face mask, yanking until the helmet came off. Rudolph chased after Garrett, who then swung the helmet, making contact with the quarterback’s head.
“I thought it was pretty cowardly, pretty bush league,” Rudolph said later.
Garrett told reporters after the game that he regretted his behavior.
“I made a mistake and lost my cool,” he said, adding: “What I did was foolish, and I should not have allowed myself to slip like that. It was out of character.”
Within seconds of the helmet attack, players from both benches poured onto the field. Not long after that, Twitter lit up with outrage, some of it from N.F.L. players, past and present.
“He’s done for the rest of the year,” Dez Bryant, a wide receiver who is currently a free agent, wrote.
Reggie Bush, the former running back, wrote: “In all my life of football that might have been the craziest thing I have seen on a football field!” He also predicted that Garrett would be suspended for 30 years and added: “Hate to see that in our game that’s not what pro football is about!”
In an on-field interview immediately after the game, Mayfield said that the passion of the Browns-Steelers rivalry did not justify a player losing control the way Garrett did. “I don’t care, rivalry or not, we can’t do that,” Mayfield told Erin Andrews of Fox Sports. He added: “Endangering the other team, it’s inexcusable. He knows that. I hope he does now.”
The fight resulted in the ejections of Garrett; Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi, who knocked Rudolph to the ground after the quarterback reacted to having the helmet swung at him; and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey, who punched and kicked Garrett after he swung the helmet.
Garrett, who was fined $52,639 for three personal fouls in the first month of this season, can expect a strong response from the N.F.L. Early this year, the league suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the remaining 12 games of the season because of an intentional hit to another player’s helmet and because Burfict had repeatedly delivered illicit hits despite being fined and suspended for prior offenses.
Garrett said he would talk to his teammates on Friday. “I will address them all. I hurt my whole team,” he said and added, “I don’t know what repercussions I’ll face.”
Browns Coach Freddie Kitchens said he was embarrassed by the incident and could not predict what punishment the league might hand down.
“We have to take whatever they have to give,” he said. “I’ve never seen it in my life. We wait and see. Myles is very upset about it.”
Rudolph said after the game that he did not feel any ill effects from the helmet striking him. But he was stunned by Garrett’s behavior.
“Where did it cross the line?” Rudolph said. “Maybe when he took my helmet off and used it as a weapon.”