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How Mason Rudolph Led the Steelers to the Playoffs

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Mason Rudolph Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers QB Mason Rudolph against the Buffalo Bills, Jan. 6, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — Mason Rudolph will head to Buffalo to start in his first playoff game since high school. That was over a decade ago for Rudolph. It’s safe to say no one could have scripted this season for the Steelers, who started three different quarterbacks and yet ended up at 10-7 anyway and in the postseason.

But from when he entered free agency a year ago to now, Rudolph’s fought a mental battle. In the past, he admitted he was worried about going into commercial real estate. He was the No. 3 all season, barely getting reps in training camp. So, this is a major step up, but he has done well in his limited opportunities to even get to this point. Getting over those hurdles has allowed him to play well.

“I think we all as players have confidence in ourselves, but we also second guess or we all have doubts,” Rudolph said. “I think all human beings do at times, and you know, when you don’t get a whole lot of interest through a free agency period, and then you’re sitting at the three spot every single day of training camp through the season. It’s definitely a mental battle, but I think the way to win that battleis just to work every day and try to get the most out of the–be faithful with the reps you’ve been given.”

Steelers QB Mason Rudolph

Steelers QB Mason Rudolph against the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 6, 2024 – Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

Behind the arm of Mason Rudolph, went 3-0 down the stretch and pushed right into the playoffs. Now, they will head to Buffalo and face the Bills. But to get to this point, Rudolph had to give the team a standard of play that substantially raised the floor of the group.

The keys to Rudolph’s success are not mystical. For one, he continued to get the ball to the right guy. I have a hard time getting on Rudolph for many things because good things happen when you make the right reads and distribute the ball. Rudolph has been an expert at making the right read and getting to the guys he needs in the progressions. It’s that understanding that has given Rudolph that subtle confidence and calculated aggressiveness.

“I think when you understand, we got a great defense that creates a lot of turnovers and rushes the passer,and you know it creates a lot of splash on their end,” Rudolph said. “I think it’s just something you got to balance each week. What do they do on defense? You know, when are we going to be able to get our shots? And then, you know, where are my check downs? And I think just it all falls underneath the, you know, you’re reviewing each week, do you know where to go with the ball in case number one’s not there. You know, the limited amount of opportunities I get I’m trying to be on top of that kind of that plan B.”

Rudolph does what you need any good point guard quarterback to do, and that is to distribute the ball around to the right spot. When a guy does that, many other things naturally click into place. His journey to even get to this point is one of the crazier stories of the NFL season. But now, he gets the chance to win a playoff game, and the first one for the Steelers since 2016 if he can pull it off.