Myles Garrett was exhausted. He didn't shy away from that fact as he sat in front of his locker Sunday after Cleveland's 21-21 tie with the Steelers.
Asked if he'd ever been as tired as he was after playing every single snap -- all 84 of them -- Garrett smiled.
"Oh, heck no," Garrett said. "That last drive I was like, 'They've got to lay down or I have to take the ball away again.'"
Considering the way he dominated the fourth quarter, it wasn't all that far-fetched of an idea.
With the Browns trailing 21-7 and the offense floundering, Garrett single-handedly brought the game back within reach.
Midway through the final quarter, Garrett burst around the edge, wrapped running back James Conner from behind and poked the ball loose. It squirted on the ground and into the arms of Jabrill Peppers, who ran it back to the 1-yard line. The Browns punched it in the end zone one play later, and it was suddenly a two-possession game.
On the ensuing possession, Garrett wasn't touched as he strip-sacked quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The Browns didn't capitalize on that particular opportunity, but it shifted field position. Another defensive stand gave the ball back to the offense with a little more than 2 minutes to play in a favorable spot. Cleveland scored two plays later, and the game was tied.
All told, Garrett finished with two sacks, two forced fumbles, two quarterback hurries, six tackles and a pass defensed.
"I am being the person they got from the draft," said Garrett, who was dogged throughout his entire rookie year by a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for four games. "I am finally healthy, and I am just trying to be the guy to make the plays when we need them."
The Cleveland Browns play the Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Week 1.
Garrett had a direct role in two of the six turnovers Cleveland's defense forced against the Steelers. Last year, the Browns forced just 13 over the course of 16 games.
Even if he's not directly forcing those takeaways, Garrett is the lead creator of the snap-after-snap chaos that ultimately provides the key ingredients for them. It's a team game, but Garrett has seen enough from the game's best pass rushers and has enough confidence in himself to believe he can be the difference-maker in wins, losses and, on Sunday, ties.
"A great player can take over the game no matter what the position," Garrett said. "It wasn't just me. It was a bunch of guys on my team who were there picking up the slack when I wasn't getting there."
More often than not, the Browns can count on Garrett getting there. They hope Sunday's fourth quarter was a preview of bigger things to come during Garrett's second season.
"He is showing that he was worthy of being the first player drafted a year ago," Browns coach Hue Jackson said. "A healthy Myles Garrett means a ton to this organization and football team. He just has to do it week in and week out and be this player every week. If he will do that, good things will happen on defense."