Inspired by late grandpa, Myles Garrett provides clutch plays despite pain in Browns' win

CLEVELAND — Myles Garrett channeled memories of his late paternal grandfather, Charles, while excruciating pain shot through the All-Pro defensive end's left shoulder.

Internal motivation helped Garrett push through the injury he aggravated in the fourth quarter and deliver in crunch time of the Browns' 23-17 victory over legendary quarterback Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

“Oooh weee! Man, we kind of knew [Garrett would come through for us]. We know that he's a clutch guy. We know that he's a guy that regardless of hurting — he was hurting — he made his way in and did his thing. We give thanks for him and everything that he's doing,” Browns linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah told the Beacon Journal.

During a postgame news conference, Garrett revealed his grandpa died in the buildup to this season, and he thought about him as the Browns (4-7) faced the Buccaneers (5-6) because of the NFL's Salute to Service initiative.

“I have a lot of family members that have served and my PawPaw passed away beginning of the year, and he was a service member,” Garrett said. “I remember my dad [Lawrence] just telling me to play this year for him, and I knew there was no better game to just find a way to win, find a way to turn it on, regardless of the adversity.

“I know that he had been through everything, and I just kept that in my mind that no matter what — you're gonna stick through it, you're gonna keep on fighting 'cause that's what he would do.”

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Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrates after sacking Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the second half, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrates after sacking Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady during the second half, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

With 6:59 left in regulation, Bucs left guard Nick Leverett assisted left tackle Donovan Smith in pass protection by slamming into Garrett's left shoulder while he rushed Brady. Garrett immediately winced. On a scale of one to 10, he said the pain was a nine when he absorbed the hit. He said it still registered at a seven after the game.

The left shoulder is the same one Garrett sprained Sept. 26 when his Porsche flipped in a frightening single-car accident. Garrett said he slammed his helmet down on the sideline because of the pain inflicted by Leverett's block.

“I just wanted to get my helmet off me and just needed a second to breathe,” Garrett said. “I just needed some air, and I just knew that at the end of the day, this pain will come and go, but that pain of losing, that feeling that comes with losing, that that'll never dissipate. So I just wanted to be able to be out there for my team and do what I had to do.”

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Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by Browns defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney, left, and Myles Garrett (95) during the second half, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady is sacked by Browns defensive ends Jadeveon Clowney, left, and Myles Garrett (95) during the second half, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

With 2:26 left in the fourth quarter and the Bucs facing third-and-13 from their 17-yard line, Garrett and fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney sacked Brady for a 7-yard loss.

Tampa Bay punted, and six plays later, tight end David Njoku made a circus catch in the end zone for a 12-yard touchdown with 32 seconds left in regulation, allowing the Browns to force overtime with the score tied 17-17.

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On the sideline, Clowney encouraged Garrett to keep going.

“I just told him, 'We need you,'” Clowney said. “You know it’s part of the game getting beat up, getting hit. We all go through it.

“I was beat up, but they count on us every week to come out here and play well and play at a high level. And we’re counting on him.”

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett deflects Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady's pass in overtime, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett deflects Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady's pass in overtime, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

On the opening possession of overtime, Garrett drew an illegal hands to the face penalty from Smith on third-and-4 from the Cleveland 47, then hit Brady as he threw short and incomplete on third-and-14 from the Tampa Bay 43. Those contributions atoned for Garrett being penalized for a neutral-zone infraction earlier in the same series.

“Myles is going to be Myles, and that’s all we want from Myles is him to be Myles,” Browns rookie defensive end Alex Wright said. “Myles is always going to make a play. We always bank on Myles to make a play, and he’s going to come in big time. He never lets us down. Always. That’s my guy.”

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On the Bucs' second and final possession of overtime, Garrett sacked Brady for a 4-yard loss on third-and-9 from the Tampa Bay 39. The Browns then assembled a six-play, 71-yard drive, capped by running back Nick Chubb's game-winning, 3-yard rushing touchdown with 19 seconds left.

“It's the kind of standard I hold myself to, and it's the kind of plays that you always view yourself as making,” Garrett said. “If you're that guy, you view yourself making those kind of plays in those moments against that kind of competitor [like Brady], someone who's achieved greatness day in and day out like that. It's no better feeling, and this one was really special to me.”

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Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady stares down Browns defensive end Myles Garrett before a first-half play, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady stares down Browns defensive end Myles Garrett before a first-half play, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

Garrett explained he didn't get a chance to speak with Brady after the game, but he had hoped to express his respect and admiration for the quarterback who has won seven Super Bowls, six with the New England Patriots and one with the Bucs.

When it mattered most Sunday, Garrett demonstrated his own greatness.

Whether Garrett, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, would have been as effective despite injury earlier in his career is anyone's guess. The bottom line is this version of Garrett figured it out.

“I feel like I've grown into a smart savage, someone who can outslick the slicksters and be able to be strong enough to deal with the tougher guys,” Garrett, 26, said. “So knowing that I'm hampered here, I've got to make up a different plan.

“I don't think I was as good at setting people up or baiting them or setting up traps [when I was younger], and [the Bucs had] a plan for me all day on the right side. So [I was] just finding a way to win, taking my shots and regardless of the outcome, just come off full speed and really try to just set the tone.”

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrates after sacking Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady in overtime, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett celebrates after sacking Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady in overtime, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

Garrett admitted his shoulder hurt so much he thought he broke something at first, but he added he hopes to avoid offseason surgery and plans to be back on the field Sunday when the Browns visit the Houston Texans (1-9-1).

“Like I've said all throughout the season,” Garrett said, “I'm gonna keep playing until they take me out."

The Browns appreciate Garrett's determination.

“There's a reason why he's a top, top, top player in this league, a top-five player, to me, in this league,” said Browns wide receiver Anthony Schwartz, who rushed for a 31-yard touchdown on a reverse in the first quarter. “He's always gonna turn it on, and when he knows it's crunch time, he's gonna be there.

"He's never gonna quit. He's always gonna finish, and it's great having a guy like that on our team, great having a guy like that on the defense, because he can really change games by himself.”

With 1½ sacks Sunday, Garrett increased his season total to 10, which is tied for fourth in the league. He became the only Browns player to tally double-digit sacks in five consecutive seasons.

“I have to continue playing regardless of how much pain I was feeling pain, [how much] pain I am feeling,” said Garrett, who was also credited with three tackles and three quarterback hits. “There's only one opportunity for greatness. Tomorrow isn't guaranteed. I just wanted it really bad. I wanted it bad for us.”

And Garrett got it for the Browns.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at nulrich@thebeaconjournal.com.

On Twitter: @ByNateUlrich.

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett helps Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady to his feet after a hit during overtime, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.
Browns defensive end Myles Garrett helps Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady to his feet after a hit during overtime, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022, in Cleveland.

This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Browns' Myles Garrett played hurt while remembering grandpa