Believe it or not, but there were a lot of things that happened for Mason Rudolph and the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first 59 minutes and 46 seconds of the game, leading up to the assault by Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns. And unfortunately, not much of that was any good, either.
While the attention quickly shifted to the assault, during which Rudolph was violently struck in the head by his own helmet, which Garrett was using as a weapon after ripping it off of his head, the reality is that he had played by far the worst game of his professional career up to that point.
It was also just the second game that he has played on the road, with the first being that against the San Francisco 49ers, his first start, during which the Steelers were obviously running a very conservative game plan.
The game still featured plenty of checkdowns, a Rudolph staple, but he was also more aggressive throwing the ball, and it didn’t go well. He threw four interceptions, including two to linebacker Joe Schobert, another to former Steeler Morgan Burnett off a tip, and one to Juston Burris, who was about the third- or fourth-string safety.
He did, at least, register two tackles to help clean up his poor play. While it’s also true that he did not get much help from his supporting cast, which continues to drop passes, and which has really become bereft of talent now due to injuries, there was certainly a lot about his performance that was entirely on him.
Naturally, that led to the first question Mike Tomlin was asked after the game being whether or not he at any point considered pulling Rudolph. He simply said, “no”, and moved on.
The only other quarterback active was Devlin Hodges, the rookie out of Samford, who did start against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week Six—the Steelers’ only road win of the season. Paxton Lynch is also on the 53-man roster, but was inactive, of course.
Tomlin’s answer should be unsurprising. The Steelers are riding with Rudolph, wanting to know as much as they possibly can about him while he has the opportunity to play this year. They drafted him believing that he has the skill to be a long-term starter in the NFL, so they’re not going to abandon ship because he had one ugly game on the road on a short week, in a game in which he lost his top three skill players.
Pretty much nothing was good tonight, and Rudolph didn’t do much good himself. He ultimately finished the game completing 23 of 44 pass attempts for 221 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions, with a quarterback rating of 36.3.
But you better believe, provided that he doesn’t have a concussion, that he’s going to be your starter against the Cincinnati Bengals in their next game, and will start for the rest of the year, pretty much no matter what happens, as long as he’s physically unable to.