A fight between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at the end of their game Thursday night led to three ejections and a call to N.F.L. to suspend the end of Browns Myles Garrett's defense, who took off Mason Rudolph's quarterback helmet and then swung it at his head.
After the match, Garrett's own quarterback, Baker Mayfield, called the attack "unforgivable" and said about Garrett, "In fact he will be postponed."
The fight began with eight seconds remaining in a 21-7 victory at Cleveland, after Rudolph finished the pass and was wrapped up by Garrett, who defended and dragged Rudolph to the ground. Still on the grass, Rudolph first tugged at Garrett's helmet, and the two continued to wrestle.
The other players begin to separate the two, but Garrett reaches out to them and grabs Rudolph's face mask, pulling him until the helmet comes off. Rudolph chases after Garrett, who then swings the helmet, making contact with the head of the quarterback.
"I think that's pretty cowardly, a pretty bush league," Rudolph said later.
Garrett told reporters after the match that he regretted his behavior.
"I made a mistake and lost my composure," he said, adding: "What I'm doing is stupid, and I shouldn't let myself slip like that. That's beyond character. "
Within seconds of the helmet attack, players from both benches entered the field. Shortly after, Twitter blazed with anger, some from N.F.L. players, then and now.
"He has finished for the rest of the year," wrote Dez Bryant, a broad recipient who is currently a free agent, writes.
Reggie Bush, a former run back, write: "All my life in football which is probably the craziest thing I have ever seen on a soccer field!" He also predicted that Garrett would be suspended for 30 years and added: "Hate to see that in our game it is not pro football what is about!"
In an interview on the field immediately after the match, Mayfield said that the passion of Browns-Steelers competition did not justify a player losing control like Garrett did. "I don't care, compete or not, we can't do that," Mayfield told Erin Andrews of Fox Sports. He added: "Endangering other teams, that's unforgivable. He knows that. I hope he does it now."
The fight resulted in the expulsion of Garrett; Browns takes on defensive Larry Ogunjobi, who drops Rudolph to the ground after the quarterback reacts because the helmet is 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 violations in the first month of the season, can expect a strong response from N.F.L. Earlier this year, the league suspended Oakland Raiders linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the remaining 12 matches this season because of deliberate blows to other players' helmets and because Burfict had repeatedly given banned attacks despite being fined and suspended for previous violations.
Garrett said he would talk to his teammates on Friday. "I will discuss everything. I hurt my entire team, "he said and added," I don't know what impact I will have. "
Brown coach Freddie Kitchens said he was embarrassed by the incident and could not predict what penalties might be imposed by the league.
"We have to take whatever they have to give," he said. "I've never seen it in my life. We wait and see. Myles was very upset about it. "
Rudolph said after the match that he did not feel any ill effects from the helmet on him. But he was stunned by Garrett's behavior.
"Where does it cross the line?" Rudolph said. "Maybe when he took off my helmet and used it as a weapon."