In the chaos, left guard Joel Bitonio sought calm.
With the potential for the team to break apart — even after a 21-7 win over the hated Steelers — he worked to bring it together.
“It was just a quick something in the locker room for the guys to hear,” he said Monday on a conference call. “It was a very emotional time and there was emotional things being said. You go through a situation like that where calmer heads needed to prevail, and you just want to make sure that everybody is on the same page and we are all working for the same goal.”
Bitonio didn’t remember his exact words from the speech in the moments following the brawl that became a national news story Friday. He knew the theme.
“At the end of the day, we are all one team, we are all one family and we are all working on one goal, and that is to be a good football team,” he said. “That was the main purpose of it. I just want to keep moving in that direction.”
The coaches and players had little time to process, or calm down from, the brawl that happened with eight seconds left. The Browns (4-6) had just won their second straight game but weren’t celebrating.
“Joel Bitonio said it after the game, ‘You have to make sure that this stuff brings you closer together as a team. You cannot let it splinter,’” linebacker Joe Schobert said after the game. “I think everybody got the message and everybody is believing the same stuff.”
Bitonio hopes the underachieving and inconsistent Browns can persevere through the latest, and perhaps greatest, adversity, which includes defensive end Myles Garrett being suspended indefinitely, including for the rest of the season, for his leading role in the melee.
“We have had our ups and downs and that is for sure,” Bitonio said. “Sometimes in the biggest storm, that is when people come together the closest.
“We have a decision to make as a team. It is not one day everybody is saying, ‘Yeah, we are in it together,’ but it is your actions through the week of practice, through games that we have to make that collective choice. Anytime you make a mistake in life, it takes a lot of time to regain trust, regain respect from things. I think if the whole team can work in that direction, then we can really grow together and become stronger.”
GOING OUT IN STYLE
Starting strong safety Morgan Burnett is done for the season after leaving the game with a torn Achilles tendon late in the second quarter. Burnett, 30, played his best game of the year.
He returned an interception a career-long 43 yards, broke up a deep pass and had five tackles, including one for a loss.
Burnett signed a two-year, $7.5 million deal as a free agent in April, including $3.65 million guaranteed. He started all eight games he played, totaling 41 tackles, two sacks and the interception.
** Backup safety Juston Burris got his first career sack and added an interception and a forced fumble.
TAKE A SEAT
Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi knew a suspension was coming when he knocked Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph to the ground in the brawl started by Garrett and Rudolph. He was right.
The NFL suspended Ogunjobi without pay for one game, Nov. 24 against the Dolphins. He will forfeit $48,000 and be fined an undisclosed amount. He reportedly will appeal.
Garrett had already hit Rudolph over the head with his helmet when Ogunjobi came up from behind and pushed Rudolph to the ground. A few feet away center Maurkice Pouncey was punching and kicking Garrett, but Ogunjobi didn’t go over there.
“It sucks,” Ogunjobi said Thursday of the suspension he expected. “I probably am going to miss some time, but at the end of the day, we are brothers. I feel we would all do the same thing for each other.
“When you see someone jumping your teammate and who is kicking your teammate, you would do the same thing, quarterback or not. When you see someone ripping off your teammate’s helmet and putting their head into the ground, you are a player.”
IT COULD’VE BEEN WORSE
Like Garrett and Ogunjobi, free safety Damarious Randall was ejected Thursday night. Unlike his teammates, Randall won’t be suspended, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram.
Randall was ejected in the third quarter for a late helmet-to-helmet hit on defenseless receiver Diontae Johnson, who sustained a concussion and had blood coming out of his ear.
Receiver Jarvis Landry had four catches for 43 yards and a touchdown, and his 530 catches are the most all time for a player in his first six seasons. He passed Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins, who had 528 from 2013-18.
** Nick Chubb became the first running back to reach 1,000 yards rushing this season, as his 92 yards against the Steelers gave him 1,011. He’s the first Browns player to hit a grand since Peyton Hillis in 2010.
“It means a lot,” Chubb said. “I have to credit my offensive line. They did a great job creating some holes for me to hit. I did not do it on my own.”
The only Browns back with more yards through 10 games in a season is Jim Brown, who did it seven times.
Receiver Antonio Callaway lost his appeal and must serve a 10-game drug suspension for his second failed test, a league source said. The Browns cut him Thursday afternoon.
He served a four-game drug suspension to open the season.
** Waterboys founder Chris Long tweeted that Garrett will remain captain of the charitable organization that brings water to needy communities.
“Plain and simple, what Myles Garrett did last night was wrong,” Long wrote. “He knows it, he’s shown contrition and he’s obviously been dealt a stiff punishment. … He’s already positively impacted the lives of tens of thousands of people through bringing the gift of clean water to communities.”
** Baker Mayfield extended his streak to 138 passes without an interception.