It’s hard to take away anything that isn’t negative from a frustrating loss that sends your team down to an 0-2 start to their season. That is exactly the hole that the Pittsburgh Steelers are in now. To top it all off, their franchise quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, exited the game at halftime with an elbow injury of unknown severity.
Nevertheless, those who played out there with Mason Rudolph in the second half couldn’t help but appreciate what the second-year quarterback was able to do through two quarters making his NFL debut.
He only got the opportunity to execute five drives in total, but he helped the Steelers put points on the board on three of them, 17 in total, including a pair of touchdown passes to Vance McDonald. I’m not 100 percent certain, but I believe it was his first multi-touchdown game of his career.
McDonald, who has forged a close relationship with Roethlisberger for the two-plus years he’s been here, didn’t have a lot to say despite his connections with Rudolph. “Him and Mason have very similar play styles. Obviously, with the experience we would be missing with him, it’ll be different”, he said.
One of the men blocking him, however, offered a much more ringing endorsement, as right guard David DeCastro was effusive in his praise of the young quarterback under center.
“He handled himself really well”, he said after the game. “I was really, really impressed, really proud of him, how he came in ready to go. He knew the playbook, how to command, mix up the cadences, too. I was impressed. I wish we could’ve gotten a win for him”.
All in all, Rudolph completed 12 of 19 passes for 112 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but it’s essential to note that one of those incompletions was a dropped pass by Donte Moncrief that led to a rebound that was intercepted, an unforced error entirely on the wide receiver.
The Steelers had better hope that DeCastro’s assessment of Rudolph’s debut is well-founded, because, at least as of the time of this writing (which is half a day before it’s being published, mind you), it’s uncertain whether or not Roethlisberger will play next week. And if he doesn’t, it will be Mason under center for the entire game. And perhaps the next one after that. And the next one.