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Rudolph: I fell short of NFL, Steelers' standards in fight

Nearly a week after Mason Rudolph took the postgame podium and called Myles Garrett's conduct toward him "bush league," Rudolph shifted to a more contrite stance.

The Steelers quarterback read a prepared statement and participated in a short question-and-answer session Wednesday before practice, expressing his regret over how he handled Thursday night's flare-up that turned into a full-blown fracas in Cleveland.

"To say the least, it was an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. I consider it a privilege, not a right to be a part of the NFL," Rudolph said. "To be part of a first-class organization, to represent the Rooney family and the Pittsburgh Steelers. I fell short of that expectation last Thursday night.

"In how I played, I did not do a good enough job to help our team win the game. Looking back on the final play of the game, second-to-last play of the game, I fell short of the mark there, too. I should have done a better job of keeping my cool in that situation. In retrospect, I put Maurkice Pouncey, probably one of the best teammates I've ever had, in a tough spot, as well as my teammates."

Rudolph attempted to explain his thought process in what became an incredibly heated moment between division rivals, starting with his jostling Garrett's helmet as the defensive end laid on top of him. Rudolph explained it as his instincts at work.

"The way I saw it, on the final play of the game, with the game in hand the way it was, we'd already lost two of our players to targeting penalties from the game," Rudolph said. "As I released the ball, I took a late shot. Did not agree with the way he took me to the ground and my natural reaction was to just get him off from on top of me.

"Again, I should have done a better job of handling that situation. I have no ill will towards Myles Garrett, great respect for his ability as a player, and I know if Myles could go back, he would handle the situation differently. As for my involvement last week, there's no acceptable excuse. The bottom line is I should have done a better job of keeping my composure in that situation. I fell short of what I believe it means to be a Pittsburgh Steeler and member of the NFL."

From that point, we know how the rest played out: Garrett responded by removing Rudolph's helmet, then was pushed away from the quarterback by guard David DeCastro before Rudolph angrily charged at Garrett, who reacted by swinging Rudolph's helmet at the quarterback's head, making partial contact. Garrett was eventually taken to the ground by DeCastro and Pouncey, with the latter punching and kicking Garrett's still-helmeted head.

The league handed down swift suspensions for those involved, though it spared Rudolph, instead determining it will fine him an undisclosed amount of money. Garrett, meanwhile, spent Wednesday at league headquarters in New York City attending his appeal of his indefinite and at bare minimum season-long ban.

While Rudolph can move forward to prepare for Cincinnati, Garrett's future is less clear. What is clear after hearing both participants speak is there's plenty of regret shared between the two. Their teams meet again next week.

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