On Saturday the Pittsburgh Steelers, led by quarterback Mason Rudolph, secured a decisive 34-11 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, ending a three-game losing streak and keeping their playoff aspirations alive.
Rudolph, who hadn’t started a game since 2021, showcased remarkable poise throwing for 290 yards, including two big touchdowns to wide receiver George Pickens. The performance not only marked a personal triumph for Rudolph but also revitalized the Steelers’ offense, which has struggled lately.
In his post-game interview, Rudolph expressed profound gratitude for his faith, crediting Jesus Christ for guiding him through challenging times and back to this pivotal moment.
“First off I want to say, just so thankful to my creator, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play this game,” Rudolph said. “[He] carried me through the dark times, and [to] get me back here for this special moment.”
Rudolph’s journey to this moment has been filled with uncertainty. At one point, he contemplated a career shift to commercial real estate, doubting his future in the NFL. However, the victory not only marked a personal success but also injected new life into both his career and the Steelers’ season.
Coach Mike Tomlin’s message to the team, “Scared money don’t make money,” seemed to resonate well, as the Steelers played with a newfound boldness. George Pickens, only 22 years old, responded to recent criticisms with an exceptional performance, recording 195 receiving yards, which included a spectacular 86-yard touchdown.
With Kenny Pickett (ankle) nearing full health, #Steelers coach Mike Tomlin opts for the hot hand: Mason Rudolph will get the start in Week 17.
This was the week Pickett was set to return. Then Rudolph stated his case. pic.twitter.com/dhUvdWd1r6
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 26, 2023
Rudolph’s career with the Steelers began when he was selected in the third round of the 2018 NFL Draft. During his rookie season in 2018, he was the third quarterback behind Ben Roethlisberger and did not play in any regular season games.
In the 2019 season, Rudolph became the Steelers’ starting quarterback after Roethlisberger was injured. Rudolph faced a severe concussion and was involved in a notable on-field altercation with Myles Garrett of the Cleveland Browns.
In 2020, Rudolph made a few appearances as a backup, including starting the final game of the regular season against the Browns. In 2021, he started in Week 10 against the Detroit Lions, throwing for 242 yards in a tie game.
The Steelers’ path to the playoffs remains challenging, and with the potential return of Kenny Pickett from surgery, Rudolph’s future as a starter is uncertain. However, head coach Mike Tomlin announced on Tuesday morning that Rudolph will continue as the team’s starting quarterback for the upcoming game against the Seattle Seahawks.
Rudolph’s leadership and effectiveness on the field have evidently earned him the opportunity. The choice to continue with Rudolph, despite the return of Pickett from injury, indicates the team’s desire for stability and consistency at the position as they hope to sneak into the postseason.
For Rudolph, the announcement represents not only a vote of confidence from the coaching staff but also a chance to solidify his role as a player in the team’s future. As the Steelers aim to build on the momentum gained from their last win, with the playoffs in sight every game becomes increasingly crucial.