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The Pittsburgh Steelers are somehow still in the playoff hunt and will likely change quarterbacks again in the final week of the regular season, this time due to injury.
Mason Rudolph is expected to miss the final game of the season with a shoulder injury, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Monday. Rudolph came in for the benched Devlin Hodges during the second quarter against the New York Jets and gave the offense a spark, but it never caught fire.
He will reportedly miss more than the finale, if the Steelers are to continue their season. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, he’s expected to be out “multiple weeks.”
In the third quarter, while trying to escape after a bad snap, Rudolph was taken to the ground and was grimacing in pain. Hodges then came back in to finish out a 16-10 loss, which has forced the Steelers to get a win against the AFC North divisional champion Baltimore Ravens in order to slide into the postseason. They’ll also need help with a win from the Houston Texans, who are playing the Tennessee Titans. There are a few other scenarios for the Steelers, though improbable.
Rudolph took over earlier in the season for Ben Roethlisberger after his elbow injury in Week 2 and has a 62.2 percent completion rate for 1,765 passing yards in 10 games, eight of which he started. He has 13 touchdowns, nine interceptions and has been sacked 15 times.
He was benched for Devlin “Duck” Hodges, and for a few weeks it was — well it was survivable in Pittsburgh. Hodges started five games, completing 91 of 135 passes for 968 yards. He had five touchdowns, eight interceptions and was sacked 13 times. Neither quarterback has been keen on throwing it deep.
He was reportedly on a short leash heading into the Jets game and if he stumbles against the Ravens, it could be Paxton Lynch coming in for the black and yellow.
It hasn’t mattered much who is in charge of this Steelers offense, which has nine touchdowns in its last eight games. The defense is keeping it alive by shutting down opponents and also scoring themselves. They have the highest forced-turnover rate at 19.8 percent, per ESPN.
Along with injuries to quarterbacks, Pittsburgh has missed time from star receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster, running back James Conner and center Maurkice Pouncey, who also missed minutes Sunday due to injury.
Conner told reporters Monday he had an MRI on his quad and is awaiting the results, but said something doesn’t feel right. He is unsure of his status for Sunday.
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