Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith grabbed Myles Garrett by the shoulders, tilted him at an unnatural angle, twisted, took him to the ground and wrapped both arms around his back.
The official stood 10 yards away looking at the egregious display. He didn’t throw a flag.
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Somehow it wasn’t the worst non-call of Garrett’s six-year career.
“Honestly, I can’t even say that,” the two-time All-Pro defensive end said Friday. “That might be No. 2. There was one against the Chargers at their place one time. I think Russell Okung dragged me down by like my horse collar. I think that might be No. 1 just because it was from the backside, but that one on Donovan was pretty bad, too.”
Browns fans know all about Garrett getting held without a flag flying. But the latest example is an illustration of just one of the things Garrett must go through in his pursuit of the quarterback.
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He’s playing through a painful sprained left shoulder originally injured Sept. 26 when his Porsche went off the road and rolled over multiple times. He faces a near-constant stream of double and triple teams. Opponents make it a point to throw quickly in a further attempt to neutralize him.
He’s overcome all of it for 10 sacks, tied for fifth in the NFL, and two forced fumbles. According to ESPN, he has the league’s highest pass-rush win rate despite being double-teamed more than any edge rusher.
“That’s how I feel like how I’ve prepared and how I’ve trained,” Garrett said. “I feel like I have a lot of people to thank for where I’m at. I couldn’t get here without my teammates and my coaches putting me in this position. Hopefully we can lower that double-team rate somehow, but as far as that pass-rush rate, that’s all thanks to guys who I’ve been surrounded by.”
He said the double teams have increased this season.
“The last two years, I’ve been double-teamed a lot,” he said. “But I feel like that Jets game, the Steelers game where they just walked their tight ends to whatever side I went to, whether I switched or not, it was funny to see. It made me feel good as far as the respect that they’re paying me but, damn, I want to make some plays, too.”
#Browns Myles Garrett on facing constant double teams and having high pass rush win rate despite that. pic.twitter.com/1nEZSqn8RZ
— Scott Petrak ct (@ScottPetrak) December 2, 2022
Garrett, the franchise sack leader with 68.5, continues to work to find counterattacks to the game plans designed to minimize his impact. He’s also irritated quarterbacks get rid of the ball quickly even when he’s double-teamed.
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“I feel like you should have more confidence in holding the ball longer if you’re gonna double-team me and (Jadeveon) Clowney, which they usually do,” he said. “So I want to dip into the bag and pull out some moves. Once we get them into those third-and-longs and we get later into the game, that’s where I feel like can really bring out some stuff you haven’t seen.”
Most teams use tight ends and running backs to chip Garrett before turning him over to the left or right tackle. The Buccaneers went with a heavier approach, using a guard to help.
Help doesn’t accurately describe what guard Nick Leverett did to Garrett on a third down in the fourth quarter. Garrett got past Smith to the inside, and Leverett lowered the boom right on Garrett’s injured shoulder.
“He had his head down and he was trying to make the play of the game right there on me,” Garrett said. “I like that kind of intensity and him trying to get after it because if I can use that against him or if I can make a play, it makes it even more sweet.”
Garrett was in excruciating pain and thought the shoulder was broken. He composed himself, didn’t miss a snap and responded with timely pressures and 1.5 sacks of Tom Brady, including the one that set up the winning touchdown in overtime.
“Myles is always killing it,” middle linebacker Sione Takitaki said. “Shows up when we need him, all the time. Those two sacks that he got were critical for us.”
Garrett will play again Sunday against the Texans despite the lingering pain. He’s committed to powering through.
“It’s going to be sore. Just have to deal with it,” he said. “As soon as it’s ready to settle in and feel a little bit better, I’m going in and making another play or getting hit, whatever it is. That’s part of the game.”
Apparently so is getting held. He’s a rare physical specimen at a chiseled 6-foot-4, 272 pounds, and his dad says he gets the “Shaq treatment” — too big and good for fouls to be called as often as they should, like former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal.
“They told me a couple of times that since I was fighting through the hold, that it’s not a hold,” Garrett said of the officials. “He called it a hold himself, but I don’t really understand. I think it’s just a reason for me not to have three (sacks) a game.”