Few have forgotten the helmet-bashing incident between Garrett and Rudolph last season that resulted in the Browns star being suspended for the final six games of the season and fined a significant amount of money. Garrett has maintained that Rudolph called him a racial slur, sparking the incident.
But Garrett has managed to rehab his image this season, even being named the Browns’ Walter Payton Man of the Year for his dedication to helping the community.
On Sunday, both players seemed to move past the incident without any ill will. Rudolph had the best game of his career, passing for 315 yards and a pair of touchdowns, nearly leading the Steelers to an upset with some key starters on the bench. Garrett was held relatively in check, accounting for just 4 tackles and no sacks.
Garrett went to shake Rudolph’s hand after the game and shared a moment with him.
“I just told him good game,” Garrett said of their exchange. “Hell of a game. And we’ll see ya’ll next week.”
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) January 3, 2021
Rudolph confirmed his conversation with the Browns star pass-rusher.
“That’s all it was,’’ Rudolph said. “I told him good luck, had a lot of respect for him.”
Rudolph also posted to Instagram after the game with a picture of himself and Garrett, with the caption: “Onward and Upward.”
Garrett is looking forward to a rematch with the Steelers next week with the stakes much higher in the Wild Card round.
“They are going to have pretty much the same gameplan,” Garrett said. “You have some of their better guys filling some of the spots, but so are we. We will have some guys back showing up to make plays and being where we need them.”
Steelers Pleased with Mason Rudolph’s Improvement
Rudolph drew his first start of the year with the Steelers sitting veteran QB Ben Roethlisberger, and the 25-year-old looked much-improved from a year ago. Rudolph started eight games last season when Roethlisberger was on the shelf with an elbow injury, but it came with mixed results.
“We were playing and playing to win. Pressure is ever present – you are either feeling it or applying it,” It was our goal today to apply it so that was to be aggressive, particularly with the downfield throws. I thought Mason’s performance was great.
“I don’t know that I was surprised by it. Like I talked about earlier in the week, it was reasonable to expect improvement in his play. This guy has been working extremely hard really for 12 calendar months. At the quarterback position, there are not many opportunities. This was his first extended action of the 2020 football season so we anticipated him being better, and he was.”
Browns Still Have Work Left to Do
Cleveland was pumped to break a playoff drought that extended back to 2002 with the win against Pittsburgh, but the Browns acknowledge there is still work to be done.
“It is not over,” Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “We have work left to do. I like this football team. I like how this football team works. I like how this football team responds when their back is up against the wall. We will just keep grinding on this thing, and we will wait for the reflection much later.”
The Steelers are listed as early 5-point favorites for their playoff matchup against the Browns.