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Breaking down how Mason Rudolph’s “check downs” were part of the Steelers game plan

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback has been criticized for his lack of deep throws, but it might just be part of the plan.

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are constantly a talking point across the NFL landscape, but that doesn’t mean those talking heads are always correct when referring to the black-and-gold. As of late, the most common complain fans have heard is how Mason Rudolph hasn’t been able to throw the football down field.

Fans should know there is a difference between “hasn’t been able to” and executing a game plan.

This likely stems from the Week 3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers when Rudolph didn’t look comfortable with his reads down field, was confused at times and ultimately relied on checking the ball down to his receivers.

The Week 4 Monday night win over the Cincinnati Bengals was a completely different offensive game plan, and one Rudolph executed to near perfection. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at what NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger put together on his verified Twitter feed regarding Rudolph’s first career win as a starter.

To go a hit further, when Rudolph spoke with the media Thursday after practice, he was asked about the lack of shots downfield and he had a clear cut answer. Going into the Bengals game the Steelers really liked their matchups with their running backs out in space on Cincinnati linebackers.

There was your game plan, and you can see how the check downs and jet-sweep plays maximized these matchups...all the way to the team’s first win of the season.

Check out Rudolph’s full media session below:

So while national media will criticize Rudolph for not driving the ball downfield, the Steelers, and Rudolph, are content sticking with the plan as long as it is successful. It makes you wonder what they might have in store for the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at 1 p.m. ET at Heinz Field.