BEREA, Ohio -- Coach Pat Shurmur defended the Browns' handling of Colt McCoy's head injury in a loss to Pittsburgh after the quarterback's father was sharply critical of the team Friday.
McCoy sustained a concussion from a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit from Steelers linebacker James Harrison in the fourth quarter Thursday. McCoy stayed out for two plays before coming back in and throwing an interception.
Shurmur is confident the Browns' medical staff followed the NFL's strict guidelines on head injuries when they assessed McCoy on the sideline.
"I feel very confident that if he wasn't able to play we would have stopped him," Shurmur said. "I can assure everyone that we followed protocol."
But McCoy's father, Brad, a longtime high school football coach, had been critical of the Browns' handling of his son, saying Colt couldn't remember the play that briefly knocked him out of the game.
"I talked to Colt this morning and he said, 'Dad, I don't know what happened, but I know I lost the game. I know I let the team down. What happened?' " Brad McCoy said, according to The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.
McCoy told Shurmur "he was ready to go" before going back in, the Browns coach said. Shurmur was adamant that if McCoy had been symptomatic "he would not have gone back in the game -- absolutely not."
Shurmur said McCoy, replaced briefly by backup Seneca Wallace, did not show any signs of having a concussion until he was leaving the locker room.
Brad McCoy said his son shouldn't have returned to the game.
"He was basically out (cold) after the hit," McCoy's father said, according to the newspaper. "You could tell by the ridigity of his body as he was laying there. There were a lot of easy symptoms that should've told them he had a concussion. He was nauseated and he didn't know who he was. From what I could see, they didn't test him for a concussion on the sidelines. They looked at his (left) hand."
The second-year quarterback was scrambling out of trouble when he tucked the ball under his arm briefly as if to run. He pulled up as Harrison approach and flipped a short pass to Montario Hardesty just before Harrison smashed into him. McCoy laid on the field for several moments before making his way off.
McCoy was only on the sideline for a few minutes -- 80 seconds in game time, 3:50 of real time.
Brad McCoy disputed Shurmur's assesment that Colt, who has sustained several previous concussions dating as far back as high school, seemed fine to go back in the game.
"After the game, the (public relations staff) made sure Colt's interview was brief and he couldn't face the lights in his press conference," Brad said. "The TV lights and the stadium lights were killing him. Why would you say he was fine? That makes it even worse."
McCoy passed for 209 yards but also threw two interceptions for the Browns (4-9), who lost for the 15th time in their last 16 meetings with the Steelers.
"I certainly didn't think he'd be out only a play," the elder McCoy said. "It would've taken my high school trainer longer than that to determine if he was OK after a hit like that.''
Shurmur said McCoy did not say he felt sick and passed all the necessary tests to be allowed to return to the game.
"I'm the father of a quarterback," Shurmur said. "I understand the emotion."
League spokesman Greg Aiello was asked in an email by The Associated Press if the Browns followed protocol.
"We will review it with the team," he responded.
Shurmur did not criticize Harrison's hit, and added he had strong feelings but did not want to discuss them publicly. Last season, Harrison knocked Browns receivers Mohamed Massaquoi and Joshua Cribbs out of the game with hits to the helmet. Harrison was fined $75,000 for the blow to Massaquoi.
McCoy, who also suffered a bruised left hand, refused to say whether he felt Harrison's hit was a cheap shot, but acknowledged that "it got me for a minute."
Harrison, who has faced stiff fines in the past for hits against defenseless players, believes he didn't do anything wrong.
"From what I understand, once the quarterback leaves the pocket, he's considered a runner," Harrison said. "All the defenseless(ness) and liberties that a quarterback has in the pocket are gone and you can tackle him just as he's a running back. The hit wasn't late, so I really don't understand why it was called."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.