Could this be the end of the Mason Rudolph era in Pittsburgh?
It's been a tumultuous week and a half for the Steelers' backup-turned-starter. Days after he was clocked in the head with his own helmet late in Pittsburgh's loss to Cleveland last week, courtesy of Browns defensive end Myles Garrett, he was accused of speaking a racial slur to the Browns defensive end, prompting the viral brawl. (The NFL "found no such evidence" Rudolph uttered a racial slur, per ESPN.) On Sunday, he was benched in the second hald of Pittsburgh's 16-10 win over hapless Cincinnati.
Rudolph had an 8-for-16 line for 85 yards and an interception vs. the Bengals.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) November 24, 2019
Devlin Hodges entered the game to play QB for the Steelers, and the move paid immediate dividends: Hodges was 2-for-2 passing with a touchdown in his first series on the field.
Rudolph entered Sunday's matchup with a 4-3 record, 12 touchdowns and 8 interceptions on the season, replacing the injured Ben Roethlisberger.
"I saw enough of what I need to see," Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told reporters after the game when asked about the decision to bench Rudolph. "Thought we needed a spark."
— Steel-Videos (@sdextrasmedia) November 24, 2019
When asked who would start at QB in Pittsburgh's Week 13 rematch against Cleveland, Tomlin would not say.
Rudolph, who helped cause the Steelers-Browns fight by attempting to take Garrett's helmet off, won't be suspended but did receive a $50,000 fine, according to NFL Media. Rudolph did not admit fault while addressing the media with a prepared statement Nov. 20.
“The way I saw it, on the final play of the game with the game in hand the way it was, it had been, we had already lost two of our players to targeting penalties from the game,’’ Rudolph said. “As I released the ball, I took a late shot. Did not agree with way he took me to the ground and my natural reaction was to get him from off on top of me. And again, I should have done a better job of handling that situation.”