SEATTLE SEAHAWKS

Who will Steelers play at quarterback against Seahawks?

Dec 26, 2023, 12:17 PM

Mason Rudolph Pittsburgh Steelers Seattle Seahawks...

Mason Rudolph of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a pass against Cincinnati on Dec. 23, 2023. (Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

(Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mason Rudolph’s dynamic play against Cincinnati helped keep the Pittsburgh Steelers’ season alive. The longtime backup quarterback could get a chance to do it again when the Steelers visit the Seattle Seahawks on New Year’s Eve.

Seahawks Injury Updates: Witherspoon, Adams, Brooks

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Rudolph will “have the ball” to begin the week and will get the nod against the Seahawks if starter Kenny Pickett’s surgically repaired right ankle is not ready in time.

Rudolph threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns in a 34-11 blowout win over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh’s biggest offensive outburst in a win in more than three years as the Steelers (8-7) snapped a three-game losing streak. Rudolph looked comfortable while throwing the ball deep to George Pickens, who had 195 yards receiving and two scores.

“I thought he did a really good job of being comfortable being himself, communicating with people regardless of the moments,” Tomlin said. “I thought that showed the confidence that he has in himself and I also thought that he remained aggressive throughout.”

Pickett hasn’t played since injuring his right ankle against Arizona on Dec. 3. He underwent “tightrope” surgery a couple of days later and returned to practice in a limited capacity last week. Tomlin declined to get into hypotheticals in terms of what boxes Pickett would have to check to get back on the field and is taking an approach similar to last week, meaning Rudolph will practice with the starters while Pickett works through his rehab.

“We’ll see what (Pickett’s) performance looks like (Wednesday),” Tomlin said. “Mason Rudolph has the ball as we stand here today.”

The Steelers have a narrow path to the playoffs that starts with wins on the road against the Seattle Seahawks (8-7) and Baltimore Ravens (12-3) along with a little help elsewhere. A loss to the Bengals would have all but eliminated them. Instead, Rudolph gave one of the NFL’s worst offenses a needed jolt by hitting Pickens for an 86-yard catch-and-run touchdown on Pittsburgh’s second snap and the Steelers cruised from there.

While Tomlin stressed he was confident Rudolph — one of the longest-tenured players on the team who has been third on the depth chart the past two seasons — could shake off rust quickly, “we feel better having tangible evidence of performance this week.”

Pittsburgh’s 34 points were its most in a victory since putting up 36 against Cincinnati in 2020. The 23-point margin of victory was also the largest since the Steelers beat Jacksonville by 24 that same season. Cincinnati’s lone sack was the only reason Pittsburgh finished with 397 yards instead of topping 400 for just the second time since 2020.

Rudolph said after his first win as a starter since 2019 that he hoped he’d get another shot but that it wasn’t his call. Maybe, but Tomlin’s more muted approach to Pickett’s availability compared to even a week ago offered a strong hint that barring Pickett making a massive leap over the next few days, Rudolph be on the field as Pittsburgh tries to win in Seattle for just the second time in franchise history.

The Steelers will be without inside linebacker Elandon Roberts, who sustained a pectoral muscle against Cincinnati. Tomlin is more optimistic about safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who could practice this week after injuring his knee in a loss to Indianapolis on Dec. 16.

More on the Seattle Seahawks

Rost: What stands out about Seahawks after getting back over .500
More late-drive magic vaults Seahawks into a playoff spot
Instant Reaction: Seahawks come through in must-win game vs Titans
Recap: Geno Smith rallies Seahawks with 2 TDs in 4th to beat Titans 20-17
The Big Plays: Geno’s late TD pass lifts Seattle Seahawks over Titans

Seattle Seahawks

Seattle Seahawks NFL Draft Michael Penix Jr...

Brandon Gustafson

NFL.com’s Reuter on picks he has Seahawks making, including Penix

NFL.com's Chad Reuter joined Wyman & Bob to discuss his latest mock draft, which has the Seattle Seahawks making interesting picks early.

15 hours ago

Seattle Seahawks Patrick Queen Kyle Van Noy...

Brandon Gustafson

Bumpus: The aggressive but logical move for Seahawks to make

Michael Bumpus makes the case for the Seattle Seahawks spending big on free-agent linebacker Patrick Queen this offseason.

18 hours ago

Seattle Seahawks Jordyn Brooks...

Brandon Gustafson

Wyman: Brooks should be a higher priority for Seahawks than Williams

When picking between two pending free agents, Dave Wyman says Jordyn Brooks is more important for the Seattle Seahawks than Leonard Williams.

20 hours ago

Seattle Seahawks Leonard Williams...

Brandon Gustafson

Huard: Why Seahawks won’t use franchise tag this offseason

The Seattle Seahawks have two players that seem like franchise tag candidates, but Brock Huard says that won't happen this offseason.

21 hours ago

Seattle Seahawks DK Metcalf...

Brent Stecker

Big Ray Roberts: Why Seahawks should keep DK; O-line thoughts

Former NFL lineman Ray Roberts shared his thoughts with Brock and Salk on a few things of note for the Seattle Seahawks this offseason.

2 days ago

Seattle Seahawks Ryan Grubb Jaxon Smith-Njigba...

Brent Stecker

New OC Ryan Grubb sees Seahawks’ WR trio similar to UW stars

New offensive coordinator Ryan Grubb, coming off two years with the UW Huskies, sees a "familiarity" in what the Seattle Seahawks have at wide receiver.

2 days ago

Who will Steelers play at quarterback against Seahawks?