Steelers think NFL trying to keep Maurkice Pouncey out of Browns rematch

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey wasn’t going to avoid suspension, no matter if you believe his intention to protect quarterback Mason Rudolph was noble.

The question was how long he’d be suspended. And three games seemed a bit harsh.

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But in the opinion of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pouncey, the length of the suspension was strategic. The Steelers play the Cleveland Browns in two weeks, and it didn’t seem like a coincidence to Pouncey or the team.

Maurkice Pouncey, Steelers upset with suspension length

Dan Graziano of ESPN said a Steelers representative joined Pouncey on the phone in his appeal on Tuesday. And according to Graziano, the Steelers were upset at the length of the suspension, feeling Pouncey got more than one game just to avoid Pouncey being in a Week 13 rematch against the Browns.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, Pouncey punched Garrett and kicked him when he was on the ground. He did that right after Garrett ripped Rudolph’s helmet off, then hit Rudolph in the head with it.

After the game, Pouncey said he wasn’t worried about a suspension.

"At this point, who cares? My man got hit in the head with a helmet,” Pouncey said right after the game. "I'll accept whatever penalty it is. I don't care. I was in protection mode."

Apparently, he didn’t figure on getting three games.

Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett (95) is punched by Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53). (AP Photo/Ron Schwane)

Browns play Steelers next week

The NFL will sometimes give a long suspension, then reduce it on appeal. If that was the thought process, giving Pouncey three games would allow a reduction to two games, then Pouncey would still miss the Browns game.

One can understand the NFL’s thinking. That rematch has the chance to be quite combustible. Lost in all the headlines about Garrett and Rudolph, two Steelers receivers were knocked out with concussions on questionable hits.

But it’s not fair to the Steelers. That game against the Browns will have implications in the AFC wild-card race. Pouncey is a key player for Pittsburgh.

The NFL seems unlikely to reduce Pouncey’s suspension from three games to one. And perhaps that was the point.

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YahooSchwab

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