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Kitchens on Garrett: ‘It’s totally unacceptable’

By MARY KAY CABOT • Nov 15, 2019 at 9:00 AM

CLEVELAND — Coach Freddie Kitchens was fuming after Myles Garett whacked a helmet-less Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph in the head with a helmet to mar Thursday’s 21-7 victory over the Steelers.

The victory improved the Browns to 4-6 and kept their faint playoff hopes alive, but cast a pall over their season. Garrett was ejected from the game —with eight seconds remaining — and is facing a lengthy suspension.

“Of course that’s not who we wan to be at the end of the game,’’ Kitchens said. “That is not who Myles wants to be. That’s not who we are going to be. You have to be able to maintain your composure in times like that and under no circumstances, we will need anything to do with anything like that. I am embarrassed. Myles is embarrassed. It is not good. He understands what he did. He understands it is totally unacceptable, and we’ve got to get through it.’’

Rudolph, who was picked off four times by the Browns, said “I know it’s bush league and I know it’s a total coward move on his part.’’

Garrett will be suspended for multiple games according to Fox Sports rules analyst Mike Pereira, and Kitchens knows he’ll have to do without his star defender for a chunk of the important home stretch.

“I have never seen that in my life, so we wait and see,’’ said Kitchens. “I can not answer that. Myles is very upset about it. He has got to maintain his composure that is it. So we will see. We got take it, whatever they gives to us. We got to take it. We will see."

He wouldn’t say if he thinks Garrett will be suspended for the final six games of the season.

“I wouldn’t even guess,’’ said Kitchens. “I have no idea. I truly have no idea."

Kitchens didn’t care that Rudolph may have kicked Garrett in the groin after he dragged him down after a short pass with eight seconds remaining. The game was over. The Browns had just improved to 2-0 in the division, and Garrett committed this egregious and violent act.

"We do not react like that no matter what,’’ said Kitchens. “That is not an excuse for anything that Myles did at all and we are not giving him an excuse. He does not want an excuse. So it does not matter what happened. I do not even care what happened. We got five seconds to go in a game, that can not happen. We got five seconds to go in a game - the biggest game that this team has won. Never beat Baltimore and Pittsburgh in the same year. Since they returned in 1999.

“And then we got to talk about this. So there is 52 other guys on the team that, that hurt. And it is going to hurt moving forward. We do not condone that. Myles understands what he did wrong, alright. He has got to maintain his composure. Just like he had to do at the start of the year. He had to maintain his composure. We have five seconds in the game. I am sorry but he understands."

Kitchens was reminded that Larry Ogunjobi was also ejected for shoving Rudolph down from behind while he was watching center Maurkice Pouncey kick Garrett in the head on the ground in retaliation for him whacking Rudolph in the head.

“Listen, none of it is acceptable,’’ he said. “But once it gets started, somebody has to be willing to stop it and get to the sideline and stuff like that. I know what the initial thing was, that is the reason why I said 52 others."

Earlier in the game, Damarious Randall was ejected for drilling receiver Dionatae Johnson in the helmet and knocking him out of the game with a concussion. JuJu Smith was also knocked out of the game with a concussion after helmet-to-helmet contact from Greedy Williams.

Is his team out of control?

"No. I think people get helmet-to-helmet contacts every week,’’ he said. “I think Myles wishes he had of used better composure with five seconds to go in the game."

Kitchens became incensed when asked if the fights can be traced back to his team losing its cool in joint practices over the summer with the Colts. The Browns ‘imposed their will on the Colts’’ in the second practice, and several fights ensued.

"No. I never okay'd fights. Did you say that I okay'd fights?,’’ he said. “I never okay's fights. Did I want them to get after their ass? Yes, I did, but that’s not fighting, that’s not after the whistle. But between the whistles, yes. I never condoned fighting on the football field because that’s penalties. I do not coach penalties. I do not coach false starts. I do not coach after the whistles grabbing somebody's facemask. I do not coach that. So I do not know what you are talking about with Indianapolis when I condoned fighting - that is putting words in my mouth. I have never in my life condoned a fight. That is a penalty."

He indicated that the out-of-control end to the game shouldn’t be a reflection on the program.

“That is for you guys to decide,’’ he said. “I just know that while I am the head coach here, that is not going to be acceptable in any form, fashion or anything."

He acknowledged that Garrett’s actions could be costly given that the Browns have a chance to remain in the playoff hunt.

"He hurt the team,’’ Kitchens said. “That’s all I can say is that he hurt the team."

He said Garrett had turned the corner in regards to losing his cool.

“I think Myles did a good job earlier in the year,’’ he said. “He had six penalties the first, I do not know how many [but] he cut them down drastically up until this week. It was just five seconds to go in the game. I do not know. You would have to go back and look at it and see what transpired. I know what he told me and I am going to keep that between him and I. But you would have to look at it."

Pouncey said Garrett should be suspended for the season.

“He could have killed him,’’ Pouncey said. “What if he had hit him in the temple.’’

Coach Mike Tomlin declined to comment.

“You guys saw what happened at the end,’’ he said.

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