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The last time Mason Rudolph started a game against the Cleveland Browns for the Pittsburgh Steelers, the end of the matchup was chaotic.
Rudolph got into a fight with Browns star Myles Garrett which resulted in Rudolph’s helmet getting ripped off and Garrett hitting him with it. Garrett accused Rudolph of hurling a racial slur at him which set him off. The defensive end was suspended for the rest of the season and was reinstated in 2020.
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Steelers coach Mike Tomlin announced earlier in the week that Rudolph would start for Ben Roethlisberger — who has struggled in recent starts. Tomlin said Wednesday he wouldn’t rehash the past with Rudolph and Garrett.
"I will not. I won’t address it. There will be no need for that," Tomlin told reporters, via the Cleveland Plain-Dealer. "That’s so far in our rearview mirror we can’t see it."
Browns coach Kevin Stefanski added that Garrett was way past the incident.
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"We talk about maintaining our composure in every single game, it’s nothing new to this week," Stefanski said. "We’ve got to make sure that we’re keeping the main thing the main thing and focusing on our work."
Roethlisberger said Rudolph could use the incident to his advantage.
"There are a couple ways you go about it. You can put it behind you and treat it like a typical quarterback that has to have short-term memory and just go out there and be like whatever happened last year— there’s going to be a lot of hoopla about it—just put it out of your mind and go focus on this year and this game and this team. Or, you can go take it as motivation that you want to go out and put it on them. Whatever you want to say to help win the football game. It’s really each man individually has to decide how he wants to approach it," Roethlisberger said.
The Steelers won the matchup earlier this season, 38-7. But now, a win for the Browns means way more than just a way to start off the season on the right foot.
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Cleveland can clinch its first playoff berth since 2002 with a win. If they lose, they will rely on a few other scenarios to help them get into the playoffs — they would need an Indianapolis Colts loss or a Tennessee Titans loss combined with a Miami Dolphins win or tie, and a Baltimore Ravens win or tie to get into the playoffs.
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