The Pittsburgh Steelers still have hopes of making the playoffs and will stick with what’s been working at quarterback for Week 18.
Head coach Mike Tomlin announced that Mason Rudolph will start for the third consecutive game when the Steelers visit the Baltimore Ravens on Saturday afternoon.
Kenny Pickett, who has not played since Dec. 3 when he suffered an ankle injury, was inactive on Sunday, but Tomlin said he expects him to practice this week and be available for Week 18.
“[Rudolph has] done a good job and we’ve done a good job in the most recent two weeks,” Tomlin said Monday. “We’ve taken care of the ball, he’s taken care of the ball. We’ve scored points at a rate in which we hadn’t done to this point this year. And with the urgency of the moment and because of those reasons we’re going to leave the ball in his hands.
“But I say all those things with the understanding that I know Kenny is very capable, in particular as it pertains to this matchup. Kenny has led us to victory late in the game the last two times we’ve played Baltimore, so we feel like we got two capable guys. We’ll proceed into the week the same way we did last week, but just knowing that his availability is less in question.”
In three games since taking over for Pickett Rudolph has 567 passing yards, a 68.5 completion percentage, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.
As Tomlin mentioned, the Steelers’ offense has come alive in their last two wins over the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals by scoring at least 30 points, something they hadn’t done all season.
The win over Seattle clinched a 17th straight winning season for Tomlin as Steelers head coach, and kept their playoffs chances a live.
Per the NFL, here are the following scenarios for the Steelers to clinch a playoff spot:
1. Steelers win and Indianapolis-Houston tie or
2. Steelers win and Buffalo loss or
3. Steelers win and Jacksonville loss/tie or
4. Steelers tie and Indianapolis and Houston do not tie and Jacksonville loss or
5. (Even with a Steelers loss) Indianapolis and Houston do not tie, Jacksonville loss and Denver win.
The Steelers beat the Ravens 17-10 in Week 5, but now that Baltimore has wrapped up the AFC’s top seed, how many of their regular starters will play Saturday, and will Pittsburgh be able to take advantage?