The Browns did not go down in the season finale against Pittsburgh without a fight.
The 24-10 loss brought back memories of Steelers games past.
It featured penalties, skirmishes, scuffling, the now traditional James Harrison roughing the passer penalty and a response from the Browns that got the Steelers blood boiling.
Because defensive tackle Phil Taylor gave guard Kelvin Beachum a blindside hit at the tail end of a running play a good 10 yards behind the play at the whistle.
Beachum went flying, and his head slammed on the frozen turf at Heinz Field.
The result: A concussion that sidelined Beachum the rest of the game.
Result part two: More scuffling and skirmishes as the Steelers tried to retaliate against Taylor.
“Had Phil Taylor not cheap-shotted Kelvin Beachum, we wouldn’t have had that problem,” Steelers tackle Max Starks said. “But he blatantly blindsided him, caused him a concussion and sent him out of the game, blatantly late after a play.
“That’s something we don’t put up with, we don’t tolerate. Those guys knew they were in for a war because you don’t piss off a grizzly bear.”
OK, the war reference is a bit much, but clearly the Steelers felt the hit was late. And cheap.
Taylor shrugged, said it was at the whistle and added the opposing team should have its head on a swivel.
The league may think otherwise.
Perhaps it was coincidence, but Taylor’s shot on Beachum came shortly after Harrison was flagged for roughing the passer on Thad Lewis after he threw a touchdown pass to Greg Little that tied the game at 10.
Harrison has become notorious and synonymous with knocking out Browns players — in the past his head shots sent Mohammed Massquoi, Josh Cribbs and Colt McCoy home with concussions.
Taylor’s hit came a few plays later.
“Boys will be boys,” Browns coach Pat Shurmur said.
The Browns complained that Steve Legursky should have been flagged earlier for trying to block linebacker Craig Robertson at the knees at the end of a running play. Robertson got up swinging, but was not caught.
“I was finishing a play,” Legursky said. “He didn’t like the way I did it. It all stemmed from there.”
“It is a rivalry for a reason,” Robertson said. “It did not start with one play. You’ve had years of this type of game.”
Legursky agreed the game was nasty.
“It was pretty grimy game,” he said. “That’s the way we like it. At the end of the day, there are no hard feelings.”
Taylor’s hit led to some serious ugliness on Twitter, though, as several Steelers fans called him out.
One called him “a pretty huge scumbag,” another called him “gutless” and another used a racial epithet.
Taylor thanked the latter two, presumably sarcastically.
After several Browns fans wrote to support him, Taylor tweeted: “I love them haters.”