May 24, 2024

During his weekly news conference, Mike Tomlin made a potentially significant decision that reverberated through a brief passage in his 170-word answer. Despite downplaying its long-term implications, Tomlin’s statement of “We are gonna leave the ball in Mason Rudolph’s hands” marked a potential seismic shift in the team’s outlook.

Rudolph secured a third consecutive start for the Pittsburgh Steelers due to his strong performance, leading the team to victories against the Cincinnati Bengals and the Seattle Seahawks. Although Kenny Pickett was deemed healthy to play, Tomlin opted to persist with Rudolph, the team’s third-stringer for the past two years, citing recent success, ball security, and increased scoring.

A lot of gratitude' – Steelers' Mason Rudolph after historic 30-23 win over  Seahawks | NFL on FOX | FOX Sports

Rudolph’s impressive stats in the last two games, going 35 of 51 for 564 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions, contributed to the decision. Tomlin acknowledged Rudolph’s role in achieving the team’s highest-scoring games over the past two seasons. The choice, however, carries weight given Pickett’s status as a first-round pick and the anticipated future franchise quarterback.

When asked about the current best quarterback on the roster, Tomlin avoided a direct comparison, emphasizing the focus on the upcoming game. The Steelers’ playoff qualification hinges on various scenarios, with Tomlin remaining noncommittal about the quarterback choice in potential playoff games.

Pickett, recovering from an ankle injury, has been a limited participant in practices, and despite medical clearance, Tomlin cited concerns about his mobility. Tomlin did not designate Pickett as the “emergency” No. 3 QB in the last game, sparking speculation. Tomlin dismissed inquiries about Pickett’s long-term status, emphasizing the team’s concentration on tangible challenges and immediate tasks.

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