Pittsburgh Steelers fans were hit with alarming news Saturday night when it was revealed that Ben Roethlisberger will miss Sunday’s home game against the Lions. Roethlisberger is on the team’s COVID-19 list after reportedly self-reporting having symptoms related to the virus.
Making his 10th career start on Sunday is Mason Rudolph, the Steelers’ 2018 third-round pick. With Roethlisberger out for most of the 2019 season with a severe elbow injury, Rudolph went 5-3 as Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback. In just his second start, Rudolph went 24 of 28 with two touchdown passes in a win over the Bengals. Rudolph was poised to lead the Steelers to an upset win over Baltimore the following week before he was knocked out of the game by then-Ravens safety Earl Thomas. The hit left Rudolph inactive for the following week’s game.
Rudolph wasn’t as effective upon his return from being in the league’s concussion protocol. His rocky play (which included a four-interception performance in a Thursday night loss in Cleveland) led to the Steelers inserting Delvin “Duck” Hodges at quarterback late in the season. But after early success, Hodges’ play faltered during the final weeks of the season. With the Steelers’ playoff hopes on the line, Rudolph replaced Hodges in New York in Week 16. Rudolph played well, but he was unable to lead the Steelers to a come-from-behind win against the Jets.
With Roethlisberger healthy, Rudolph’s only start last season came during Pittsburgh’s Week 17 game against the Browns. After struggling early, Rudolph threw two late touchdown passes to pull the Steelers to within two points. His incomplete pass on Pittsburgh’s two-point conversion attempt led to the Steelers leaving Cleveland with a 24-22 loss. In defeat Rudolph threw for a career-high 315 yards. He also took (and completed) several deep shots after being criticized