The Pittsburgh Steelers will continue to ride the hot hand at quarterback heading into the playoffs, it seems. HC Mike Tomlin confirmed Tuesday that Mason Rudolph will get the start this week against the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card Round of the 2023 NFL playoffs over starter Kenny Pickett.
“Much like in the spirit in which we worked a week ago, we’re simply staying with the hot hand and not disrupting the apple cart. We’ve been in some tough circumstances; he’s delivered, and so we will continue in that vein,” Tomlin said.
Week 18’s regular-season finale marked Rudolph’s third start this season, having earned his first two amid health concerns for Pickett, who was rehabbing an ankle injury. Over those three starts, Rudolph has thrown for 716 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 0 interceptions for a 120.4 NFL passer rating.
12.2% of Rudolph’s pass attempts have gone for 20+ yards this year — outpacing Pickett’s 7.7% — though plenty of that has been thanks to the yards after the catch ability of his receivers, including wide receivers Diontae Johnson and George Pickens. Still, there’s something to be said for the location of Rudolph’s pass attempts that has been able to maximize those skill sets in a way that fans hadn’t seen nearly as often from Pickett to this point in the season.
Tomlin heaped praise upon Rudolph ahead of the matchup, saying, “[Rudolph] has an unflappable confidence in himself. He’s highly professional. He’s always preparing and prepared, and I think that provides the platform for the performances that you’re seeing.”