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Steelers Gameday

From the Locker Room: Rudolph on Starting Second Half; Edmunds on PI Call

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PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph didn’t have to wait long before seeing regular season playing time this year.

Unfortunately for the Steelers, it came with an injury to Ben Roethlisberger, who left Pittsburgh’s 28-26 loss to Seattle with an elbow injury.

While it’s unclear how long this injury will keep Roethlisberger out of action, or if it will at all after he missed the second half on Sunday, Rudolph stepped in and played admirably when called upon.

He finished 12 of 19 for 112 yards and 2 touchdown passes. Rudolph, who outplayed former teammate Josh Dobbs throughout training camp and the preseason to win the backup job, explained that he always prepares as if he’s going to start. Rudolph acknowledged his reps may change this coming week depending on the severity of Ben’s injury, but that won’t change his focus. He also noted that head coach Mike Tomlin and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner didn’t not change the game plan with him in at quarterback.

CRITICAL SWING

One of the key moments in the game came when safety Terrell Edmunds was called for pass interference on Seattle’s last scoring drive of the game. This penalty was a reversal of the initial no call. The challenge victory for Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll proved to be the final dagger for the Steelers. Edmunds appeared frustrated while trying to make sense of the change in calls and how that impacted the game.

Steelers Gameday

From the Locker Room: Ben Roethlisberger, Chase Claypool on Connecting for a Big Score

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PITTSBURGH — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool talk about their connection for an 84-yard touchdown pass via Zoom with the Pittsburgh media, including Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, after the Steelers’ 26-21 victory over the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020.

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Steelers Gameday

Steelers Pass Rush Finds Mark in Big Way against Broncos

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PITTSBURGH — The Steelers entered their game against Denver on Sunday with one singular focus on defense: to get to and rattle young Broncos quarterback Drew Lock.

That goal was accomplished fairly early on. Midway through the first quarter, Lock slipped away from rushing Steelers linebacker T.J. Watt, only to be blindsided by fellow pass rush maven Bud Dupree.

Dupree knocked the ball out, Mike Hilton recovered, and Lock never did. The Broncos young quarterback left the game and did not return after the play.

Knocking the quarterback out of the game in the first quarter might seem ideal, but it actually required the Steelers to rethink their game plan a bit. Broncos backup Jeff Driskel came into the game and the veteran backup was more poised, less prone to panic and at the end of the day more successful than his younger cohort.

“We played against Driskel in his days in Cincinnati,” Tomlin said. “More than anything, it’s tough to anticipate their alternative plans, the adjustments that they make, their package of plays that maybe highlight his skill set. It threw us off rhythm. It’s something to adjust to but I’m sure the loss of Drew Lock also threw them off rhythm. So we’re not going to make excuses for our performance. It was really a good job by them adjusting and adapting to circumstances and working to put themselves in the position to win.”

Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds said that the team went to a bit more of a vanilla game plan when facing Driskel while waiting to see what the Broncos would do after they were forced to change.

“Once they switched quarterbacks, everything switched up because we didn’t know what we were going to get out of the second quarterback,” Edmunds said. “So we had to go back to the basics.”

For the rest of the first half, it didn’t seem to matter. The Steelers sacked Driskel four more times before the end of the half. But in the second half, the Broncos’ veteran seemed to settle in. T.J. Watt recorded his second solo sack of the game on the Broncos’ first third-quarter possession, but from then until the end of the game, he was able to operate relatively unmolested.

Driskel led the Broncos on two second-half touchdown drives and was threatening on what would have been a game-winning third, the Steelers needed to change things up.

So they dialed up a blitzing Edmunds, far from the Steelers’ most common pass rush and it fooled the Broncos. Edmunds came unblocked, sacking Driskel on a crucial fourth down to seal the win for the Steelers.

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Steelers

From the Locker Room: Joe Haden says Steelers Looked to be Physical Despite Penalties

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Steelers cornerback Joe Haden speaks with reporters, including Alan Saunders of Steelers Now, about the pass interference penalties against his team and the defense’s fourth-quarter stop in their 26-21 win over the Denver Broncos.

Joe Haden had an up and down day, recording an interception but also losing some one-on-one battles, most notably almost being beat for what would’ve been a sure touchdown until the receiver tripped.

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