With just one game left to play, the Pittsburgh Steelers are pretty much guaranteed to do something that they have been able to avoid for nearly two decades, which is to fail to produce a 2000-yard passer. Though driven in no small part by the circumstances of injury, the team has had three different starters at the position, and even as a group, they are at risk of coming up short of 3000 passing yards as a team.
Second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph, with eight starts, has thrown for 1765 yards in 2019. But the team placed him on the Reserve/Injured List yesterday. Had he been healthy and given the opportunity to start in the finale, he would have had a shot at hitting 2000, though he had only thrown for at least 235 yards in two of the 10 games in which he played.
Devlin Hodges will be playing in his eight game, and sixth start, but in actuality, he hasn’t even hit 1000 yards yet. The rookie out of Samford has completed 91 of 135 pass attempts, but has totaled just 968 passing yards, and he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns.
Thanks largely to the fact that they have had Ben Roethlisberger for the vast majority of the time in between, the Steelers haven’t had such a poor passing game since the 2000 season, with Kordell Stewart as the leading passer of record.
That season, Stewart attempted 289 passes, completing 151, for 1860 passing yards. Ken Graham started five games that year as well, throwing for 878 yards. Of course, they also had the fourth-ranked rushing offense with 2248 yards on the ground and 19 rushing touchdowns.
The Steelers could have certainly used a complementary running game like that in 2019 to go along with these novice passers, but they’ve had anything but. As a team, they have just 1356 rushing yards through 15 games and just six touchdowns on the ground, those numbers ranking 26 and 28 in the league, respectively.
Collectively, the offense has produced 2904 passing yards with 18 touchdowns to 19 interceptions. One would hope that they could at least eclipse the 3000-yard mark as a team, with one more crack at it Sunday, but the Baltimore Ravens secondary could have a lot to say about that depending upon how many of them are actually given the opportunity to play.