Mason Rudolph maintained he doesn’t know what’s next, but he insisted he’d be as ready for San Francisco if necessary as he was for Seattle.
“We’ll talk as an offensive staff and figure out what’s Ben’s situation,” Rudolph said of what’s on the immediate agenda leading up to the Steelers’ scheduled visit to San Francisco this Sunday. “Obviously, the reps in practice might change, but my approach won’t change, just the diligence and kind of the routine I have in-week. I’ve always believed in preparing like I was a starter if I was or not.
“That’s been through college and the last two years, so that’s how I’ll approach it.”
Rudolph was a reliever last Sunday against the Seahawks in the Steelers’ opener at Heinz Field.
He replaced Ben Roethlisberger (right elbow) for the season half and put points on the board in three of five possessions. Rudolph finished 12-for-19 passing for 112 yards, with two touchdowns (both to tight end Vance McDonald) and one interception (a high throw to the sideline deflected off the hands of wide receiver Donte Moncrief; Seahawks free safety Bradley McDougald collected the carom just inside the sideline). Rudolph was also picked off on a failed two-point conversion attempt.
Rudolph’s passer rating was 92.4.
It wasn’t quite enough in a 28-26 loss that dropped the Steelers to 0-2.
“He handled himself really well,” guard David DeCastro said. “I was actually proud of him, how he came in ready to go, knew the play book, had a big command, was mixing up the cadences, too.
“That was impressive. I wish we could have got a win for him.”
Roethlisberger finished 8-for-15 passing for 75 yards and remained in uniform on the sideline throughout the second half.
“We were talking on the sidelines in between drives, what he saw and what I saw and just kind of comparing notes,” Rudolph said. “We’ll figure it out, I have no idea. We just lost, gotta play better as a team, myself included. We’ll all find out what happens moving forward.”
AFTER FURTHER REVIEW: The Seahawks took advantage of the NFL’s new policy that allows replay challenges on defensive pass interference penalties that aren’t called midway through the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Russell Wilson fired deep for wide receiver Tyler Lockett on second-and-20 from the Seattle 27-yard line with 8:54 left in regulation. The call was reversed after a Seattle challenge determined via the review process that Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds had been guilty of interference.
Instead of third-and-20, the Seahawks suddenly faced first-and-10 at the Steelers’ 35.
Three plays later Wilson hit rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf for a 28-yard touchdown that pushed Seattle’s lead to 28-19.
“Man, it’s part of the game,” Edmunds said. “They make the calls, I just gotta keep on playing from there. It really doesn’t matter exactly what I think, they made the call.
“Just a few plays after I gotta make that play down in the end zone, so can’t really argue against the refs.”
Head coach Mike Tomlin “disagreed” with the reversal.
“I don’t believe any of us have an understanding of what that standards are once those things go to replay,” Tomlin added. “I don’t know.”
NFL Senior Vice President of Officiating Al Riveron explained the decision in a pool report: “We take a look at it and there were three or four TV angles that show us that there was clear and obvious visual evidence that the receiver was significantly hindered by the defender in his attempt to make a catch."
WINNING WITH HIS LEGS: The Steelers clawed back into the game when inside linebacker Devin Bush recovered and a fumble and returned it 11 yards to the Seattle 3. Rudolph hit McDonald on the next snap for the touchdown that brought the Steelers back to within two points with 5:34 left in the fourth quarter.
But the Steelers never got the ball back.
Wilson scrambled 10 yards for a first down on second-and-nine with 3:24 left, and then scampered for 15 yards on third-and-16 with 2:11 remaining (a 9-yard Wilson run in between was negated by a holding penalty).
Running back Chris Carson sealed the deal by running for 2 yards on fourth-and-1 from the Steelers’ 33 on the first play inside the two-minute warning.
“Broken-down plays,” defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. “We knew Russ, in the fourth quarter, likes to take it over and keep the ball in his hands, and that’s on the rush, simple as that.”
MISSED TACKLE CRITICAL: Running back Rashaad Penny’s 37-yard touchdown run on third-and-2 with 3:04 left in the third quarter was on outside linebacker Anthony Chickillo, according to Chickillo.
“Routine play, I should have made it,” Chickillo lamented. “I don’t have an excuse, I missed the tackle.
“I should have made the tackle, for sure.”