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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Search for Offensive Identity and Production Amid Injuries

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NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Search for Offensive Identity and Production Amid Injuries

2019-09-18 18:09:30

-by Bo Marchionte, Contributing Writer; Image: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph. (Image Source: Don Wright/Associated Press)

Pittsburgh, PA— The Pittsburgh Steelers fell to 0-2 with their 28-26 defeat to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

Despite the loss, the team showed plenty of positives considering the absence of their starting quarterback and running back for the second half of the game. It showed depth against a quality opponent in Seattle and the defense was pretty darn good at getting after Russell Wilson and company.

They showed some life and some resiliency after two-time Super Bowl Champion Ben Roethlisberger was unable to return for the second half from an elbow injury.

“It was after halftime,” said Vance McDonald on when he knew second year quarterback Mason Rudolph would be stepping into the huddle. “Maybe some people knew after, but I think as an offense as a whole knew after halftime.”

Roethlisberger was struggling before the injury and Rudolph provided some spark.

“His No. 1 goal is to get in there and do his job and get the offense on top,” said his college teammate James Washington. The pair formed one of the most dominant duos in Oklahoma State history, so Washington knows Rudolph as well as anyone. “He’s a very enthusiastic guy. He shows his emotions.”

Rudolph equaled Roethlisberger’s passing yard total (75) from the first half in the third quarter alone and showed plenty of maturity for a young quarterback. Rudolph finished the game completing 12 of his 19 passing attempts for 112 yards along with two touchdowns and one interception.

“He did well today,” said McDonald. “I think Mason did a really good job today and he is just going to have to build on that.”

Despite Roethlisberger’s elbow injury and the solid performance by Rudolph the Steelers are far from clicking offensively.

The residue of missing Antonio Brown is still evident in the offensive production. It took over five quarters to score their first touchdown of the season.

Anxiously a fan base awaits the offense to manufacture points in the same manner as last season, but let’s reserve some patience for them to get in sync. Injuries now play a role, which hits this team hard, especially without a dynamic playmaker like Brown.

Or Ben. Or possibly John Conner.

Pittsburgh put up 26 points on Sunday and showed some flash against the very talented Seattle team.

It is the turn in the right direction, but far from the finished product for a playoff run.

“Obviously, things will change big time, it will be different,” said McDonald of playing without Roethlisberger. “I think he and Mason (Rudolph) have a similar play styles. With the experience we will be missing from Ben, it will be different.”

Rudolph, to his credit orchestrated the most productive half of the Steelers short season thus far. The 16 second-half points were the most scored since their last game of last year when they won 16-13. Also, without the help from Brown who was benched.

Conner also left the game with a knee issue meaning second-year running back Jaylen Samuel possibly may see a heavier workload.

“I’m always ready,” said Samuel. “If he doesn’t play (Conner) I’m ready. If he does play, I’ll still be ready.”

So, while the offense is a work in progress and may be furnished with new faces depending on injury, Samuel kept things positive.

“It’s still early,” said Samuel. “Its Week 2, we still have 14 games left. We could go 14-2 and have one the best records in the league.

We just got to take it one game at a time.”

To read more from Bo Marchionte at, click here.

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