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Mason Rudolph Shines in Preseason Game, Leads Steelers on Game-Winning Drive

Rudy led Pitt to a comeback win late on Saturday.



Jackson Lavarnway/PFB

Mason Rudolph had one of his better showings as a pro on Saturday night in the Steelers’ second preseason game of the year, leading Pittsburgh to a 16-15 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. Rudolph finished the game 17 of 21 passing for 127 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions, including leading a game-winning drive that culminated with a smooth touchdown pass to take the lead late.

Rudolph played nearly the entire second half as part of Pitt’s plan to showcase him. The team has been taking turns featuring former Bears quarterback Mitch Trubisky and first-round pick Kenny Pickett.

“He looked like a varsity guy in a JV game,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said postgame. “It was reminiscent of when we had Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich as backups. When you’ve got a veteran like that late in a preseason game he should be the best player on the field. It should show. And I thought it did.”

Rudolph finished with the second-highest quarterback rating of the six quarterbacks who played in the game, trailing only teammate Kenny Pickett. His 107.7 rating was well ahead of likely starter Mitch Trubisky (85.4) and notably ahead of former No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence (84.0), too.

After selecting Rudolph with the No. 76 overall pick in the 2018 draft (Round 3), the Steelers have exclusively used Rudolph as Big Ben’s backup during his career. But even with Big Ben retiring, Rudolph remains likely on the outside looking in for the starting job, so his performance — even in the preseason — could help catapult him into either winning the backup job for the time being or perhaps earning a bigger role elsewhere if the team decided to trade him.

Rudolph has made 10 starts in his career with a 5-4-1 record. In those games he has completed 61.5% of his passes for 2,366 yards, 16 touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

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