PITTSBURGH — Browns coach Kevin Stefanski’s response was uncharacteristically candid, perhaps revealing how taken aback he was by the act.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s — you can’t do that. I mean, you’re hurting the team,” Stefanski said. “It’s crazy. Not smart. You know, he felt like he was just — I’ll let him answer it.”
Stefanski wasn’t the only one surprised when Browns defensive end Jadeveon Clowney threw Steelers receiver Chase Claypool’s shoe in the second quarter of the Browns’ 26-14 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night at Heinz Field, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
It didn’t carry the ramifications of Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd’s celebratory helmet toss in 2002 that handed the Kansas City Chiefs a 40-39 season-opening victory.
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But quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s pass to Claypool picked up only 3 yards on third and 10, so the Steelers would have turned the ball over on downs. Given new life with a first down at the Cleveland 18, the Steelers scored three plays later on receiver Diontae Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown catch to take the lead for good.
“You know, obviously, he didn’t feel like he was throwing it away or whatever. But those are tough penalties in those situations,” Stefanski said.
Clowney wasn’t made available to explain what happened, but Browns linebacker Anthony Walker Jr. said he received an unsolicited apology.
“Obviously not a great play for us. He came right up to me, was kind of like, ‘Man, I’m sorry, I let us down on that one,’” Walker said. “Can’t have it. He knows that. Clowney’s a veteran, he’s a great player, came back and had two big sacks for us. He’s more down on himself than we are.
“But that’s our brother, we’re going to battle with him all the way to the end. It’s a play that we can’t have. It’s undisciplined. He’d be the first to tell you that’s a bonehead play by him, that’s what a leader does. He owned up to it right away. We’ve still got to fight with him and for him.”
Three-time Pro Bowler Clowney had wrestled Claypool to the ground by his ankle before the shoe came off.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett said he didn’t see Clowney throw it, but heard about it afterward.
“Of course, I talked to him. I told him we can’t do that, we’ve got to be smarter,” Garrett said. “If he doesn’t throw the shoe, we’re off the field. Obviously, we can’t be doing things like that, we’ve got to be a more intelligent football player.”
The Browns (7-9) matched their season-high with 10 penalties for 77 yards in the loss. The previous two times they reached 10 came in victories over the Cincinnati Bengals and Detroit Lions.
Clowney finished with six tackles (four solos), one for a loss, two sacks, two quarterback hits, and a forced fumble.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns’ Jadeveon Clowney commits costly penalty: ‘Not smart’