Even if it was just for today, the Mason Rudolph era got started sooner than anyone would have expected after Ben Roethlisberger was injured before halftime. Rudolph showed poise, heart and promise as he tried to keep the Steelers in the game but after 21 second half points by the Seahawks, the Steelers fell 28-26.
Rudolph led two scoring drives in the second half and completed 12/19 passes with two touchdowns but he was unable to keep up with the firepower of Russell Wilson. The Seahawks quarterback threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns to no interceptions. While the Steelers defense was able to limit Wilson in the first half by crumbling the pocket, Wilson picked them apart in the second half.
The Steelers and Seahawks got off to a defensive stalemate throughout the first quarter. Led by T.J. Watt and Stephon Tuitt, the Steelers’ defense got to Wilson early and often. Watt notched the first sack of the game while Tuitt and Mark Barron combined for the next two. Watt was not done yet, as he punched the football out of the hands of Seahawks’ running back Chris Carson and into the hands of Barron.
Barron scampered his way into the endzone but an ill-advised penalty by Sean Davis wiped the touchdown off the board. Though the touchdown was only delayed as three plays later, the Steelers had their first touchdown of the 2019 season after James Conner pounded it in from the goal line.
While the Steelers’ first ill-advised penalty took seven points off the scoreboard, their second added seven points onto the scoreboard for the Seahawks. Backup nosetackle Dan McCullers was called for unnecessary roughness on a Seahawks’ field goal attempt, giving Wilson and company another chance to add points to the board. Giving quarterbacks like Wilson a second chance is not a recipe for success and one play he made the defense pay, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to Will Dissly to tie the game at seven.
Injuries took their toll on both the offense and defense as Conner, Vince Williams, Sean Davis left injured and did not return while Roethlisberger was seen grasping at his elbow throughout the second quarter. Roethlisberger headed to the locker room before halftime and was replaced by Rudolph to start the second half.
The Mason Rudolph era got off to a rough start but to no fault of his own. On the Steelers’ first third down pass of the second half, Rudolph’s pass bounced off the fingertips of Donte Moncrief and landed right in the hands of defensive back Bradley McDougald. Moncrief has now received 11 targets on the season and has dropped five of them.
Monrief’s interception gave Wilson another chance to put points on the board after his offense went three and out to start the half. Just like earlier in the game, Wilson would take advantage of a gifted opportunity, connecting with Dissly once again up the seam on a 12-yard touchdown to put the Seahawks ahead 14-10.
While Rudolph’s first drive ended due to a costly error by a wide receiver, JuJu Smith-Schuster made sure to make it up to his young quarterback, making a great adjustment on a 45-yard pass off a flea flicker. That would be Rudolph’s first completion of his NFL career and would lead to another Chris Boswell field goal as the Steelers narrowed the deficit to 14-13.
The Seahawks would strike quickly again as another missed tackle proved to be a costly mistake, this time it was Anthony Chickillo whiffing on a tackle in the backfield which allowed Rashaad Penny to march into the endzone for a 37-yard touchdown to give Seattle a 21-13 lead.
Rudolph would get the chance to answer back and her certainly did as he showed incredible poise for his age. On a 12 play, 75-yard drive, the second-year quarterback converted two third downs before connecting with tight end Vance McDonald on an eight-yard touchdown to put the Steelers back into the game.
It looked like this game was just about over when Wilson connected with D.K. Metcalf on a 28-yard touchdown pass over the head of Terrell Edmunds to give the Seahawks a 28-19 lead but rookie linebacker Devin Bush had other plans.
With just over five minutes remaining, Carson fumbled the football once again. Bush scooped up the loose ball and took the ball back down to the three-yard line. Rudolph would do all the rest from there, connecting with McDonald once again to make it a two-point game.
Unfortunately, it was too little, too late as Wilson was able to run out the remaining minutes of the game with his legs. Wilson put the Seahawks in a crucial 4th and one situation, which Carson converted which all but sealed the victory, dropping the Steelers to 0-2.
The Steelers will now prepare to make a dreaded trip to west coast as they take on the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday at 4:25 p.m. EST.