CINCINNATI — Mike Tomlin had simply seen enough. His team needed a spark.
Those were the reason the Steelers head coach decided to bench Mason Rudolph, his second-year quarterback and make the change to rookie Devlin Hodges in the third quarter of what became a 16-10 Steelers victory over the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
“Just felt like our offense needed a spark,” Tomlin said at his post-game press conference. “Mason wasn’t doing enough. Duck came in and provides us with a spark. Made a couple plays.”
Duck is, of course, the nicknamed bestowed upon Hodges when he arrived a on a tryout at the Steelers facility as an undrafted rookie out of Samford this spring. He’s played in three games now this season, but perhaps none more impactful than Sunday, when he led the Steelers from behind for a victory over the Bengals that seems essential in them remaining in the playoff chase.
Hodges was front and center in the victory, hitting James Washington for a 79-yard touchdown on his third pass attempt that proved vital to the Steelers’ comeback effort.
“I looked pretty smart, didn’t I?” Tomlin joked.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 24, 2019
Tomlin said that he didn’t come into the game thinking that he might remove Rudolph if he didn’t get out to a better start after a four-interception game against Cleveland the previous week and that he was simply reacting to the situation as it unfolded in front of him.
“I don’t prepare for failure in that way,” he said. “I don’t. I prepare for success. Like you guys hear me say all the time, I’ve always got a hardcore plan, but I’m light on my feet in case necessary adjustments are made in any element of play.”
So Tomlin did not come into the game planning to make a switch at the quarterback position, and he isn’t tipping his hand about his plans for next week’s rematch with the Browns, either.
“I may have [a plan] as I stand here right now, but I’m not going to share it with you guys,” Tomlin said. “We’ll see what next week holds next week, but I like the contributions of Duck, I like his readiness. I appreciate the efforts of Mason and I also appreciate the support of Mason after we made the changes.”