PITTSBURGH — Sunday might be the encore for Mason Rudolph. His venue? Lumen Field in Seattle, Washington, is home to one of the more raucous crowds in the NFL. But he’s not fazed by that. The Steelers are more focused on ensuring Rudolph’s performance against the Bengals is a sustainable model they can replicate in a must-win game.
The Seahawks, a base Cover 3 team, will try to take away some of the throws to the outside for the Steelers, who ran plenty of deep balls to the outside and speedouts to work off that. But Rudolph is expecting that switch, especially after the Bengals switched from Cover 2 in the first matchup to a heavy middle-of-the-field closed gameplan.
“Outside the numbers? Yes, I agree. I mean Pat killed him inside had had a great game and since he game one and they were very hyper-concerned about Deontay and George on the outside and so Pat played and then a few weeks later the opposite happened,” Rudolph said. “So yes, I think it’s reasonable to expect maybe Seattle to obviously be more aware of the outside, but we’re going to play our game and I think we do a good job of adjusting. We did a good job Saturday of adjusting in game and little tweaks, little route changes, adding a play here and there and just taking what the defense gives you.”
For Mason Rudolph, this is all new. He never had to prepare for a game plan after 2019 for two consecutive games. He has not even really gameplanned during the week much. His 2021 start against the Lions was on a complete whim after Ben Roethlisberger tested positive for COVID-19, forcing Rudolph into action just a day before. The idea of his fandom growing, the calls for him to start, and just receiving reps in general is new.
“We had a good practice today and I’m taking it one day at a time,” Rudolph said. “I’m really just enjoying getting reps in practice. It’s foreign. It seems like it’s foreign, but yeah, I think you build confidence when you stack. Good day on good day and that’s all we’re trying to do. And I know it’s a week to week league and in no way am I, I’ve turned the page from last week, even though it was a big time win we needed but turned the page”
Rudolph’s game ball ended up back at his dad’s office after the fantastic performance he had against Cincinnati. Now 28, Rudolph has a level of maturity that he did not have back in 2019 when he was just 24 and trying to figure out what was happening in life. In fact, this year, Rudolph even brushed up on his resume to see what his opportunities might be outside of football. But now, Rudolph seems to have a foothold back into the league.
“Yeah, I think I’d be lying if I said I didn’t work on my resume a little bit. Hadn’t done that since freshman year of college. But I just think I wanted to be, I didn’t know what was going to happen and I wanted to have a plan B. Your whole life you’re doing one thing and your head’s down and I’m not going to think about it,” Rudolph said. “And I had a little bit of time with family to kind of think about maybe what I might be interested in and I still had a lot of confidence that I was going to get an opportunity somewhere. But yeah, I think whenever this ends for me, for all of us, I know from other guys that sometimes it takes, there’s a transition period and I just want to jump in. If it was going to be this path, I wanted to just jump into something and keep my brain moving and not be sitting around waiting.”
Rudolph ended the game with two touchdowns and a few impressive deep balls. The confidence and moxie are there, but he now needs to take the test of making his performance from Saturday sustainable. If he can be comfortable in the pocket and make some of the throws he did, the team has a chance to win against Seattle.