The Pittsburgh Steelers had to start their third different quarterback of the season last night against the Los Angeles Chargers. The difference between the first two, however, is that he won his first game. It was, in fact, just the team’s second win on the year, and it belonged to undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges.
Though he didn’t do anything remarkable, and made a foolish mistake at the end with an interception on a deep pass in traffic, he did what the Steelers needed him to do through his play, and he also showed his heady awareness in other ways.
“We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. We haven’t been bashful about that”, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters about the Samford product after the game. “He’s got a lot of confidence in himself, and I think that’s what makes people gravitate to him. But we’re not getting overly excited. This is a guy that played a good night with very limited experience, and we’re thankful to get a win, and hopefully it’ll be a good learning experience for him and us collectively as we move forward”.
Officially, he finished completing 15 of 20 pass attempts for 132 yards with one touchdown pass and one interception, with a quarterback rating of 87.9. I believe he only had two pass attempts throughout the game that traveled more than 10 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, so he was willing to take what the Chargers gave him.
That resulted in plenty of work for running back James Conner in the passing game, receiving seven targets and catching all of them for 78 yards, turning one of them into Hodges’ lone touchdown. That came on a short pass on third and long, on which the running back broke a tackle before racing up the right sideline.
One of the odd circumstances that he had to deal with during this game was a number of bad snaps from 10th-year veteran All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey. He even botched a snap in a goal-to-go situation, the ball skidding well past Hodges. He showed great awareness to recover it, clear the area, and fire it incomplete to avoid lost yardage.
One of the things teammates and coaches talked about a lot heading into this game was the fact that he wasn’t shy about making line adjustments when he saw the situation that called for it, something he showed last week when he came in for Mason Rudolph.
There was never a moment throughout the game in which Hodges looked uncomfortable or in over his head. That’s part of the confidence he possesses, and the fact that he’s been doing this since he was five years old. The football field is his home of sorts, and it shows.