The Pittsburgh Steelers are counting on Mason Rudolph to carry the offense in the absence of Ben Roethlisberger. But on Sunday, he was absent from the end of the Steelers’ game against the Baltimore Ravens after suffering a concussion and briefly going unconscious after a massive hit from multiple Ravens defenders.
With 7:39 left in the third quarter and the Steelers trailing 17-13, Rudolph took off out of the pocket and attempted to make a big pass play to receiver James Washington. As he released the ball, he was hit from behind by linebacker Matt Judon while safety Earl Thomas hit him from the front. Not only did the two sandwich Rudolph but Thomas’ helmet made contact with the side of the QB’s helmet. Rudolph immediately slumped to the ground and appeared to be unconscious by the time he hit it.
*Warning – graphic*
Just hoping Mason Rudolph will be okaypic.twitter.com/NY5Kbt8Saa
— Eric Rosenthal (@ericsports) October 6, 2019
Rushing over to help, Steelers players immediately called for the team’s medical staff to come out onto the field. Thankfully, Rudolph regained consciousness after a brief while and eventually sat up. He walked off the field with assistance from the staff and his fellow teammates and did not return to the game. He was instead taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a concussion.
Mason Rudolph had to be carried off the field because the medical cart malfunctioned. pic.twitter.com/186nVyVxtp
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) October 6, 2019
#Steelers QB Mason Rudolph will not return to today’s game after being diagnosed with a concussion.
— Burt Lauten (@SteelersPRBurt) October 6, 2019
Undrafted rookie Devlin Hodges took Rudolph’s place, completing seven of nine passes for 68 yards. The Steelers tried to rely on their defense to complete the comeback but the Ravens were able to suss out a 26-23 victory in overtime.
Thomas was not called for the helmet-to-helmet hit, though it’s unclear if that’s because it was inadvertent or if the refs just missed it. You could make the case that the initial hit to the back caused Rudolph’s trajectory to change and Thomas wasn’t trying to make contact with his head. However, considering some of the calls we’ve seen this season that have been flagged as roughing the passer, it would be a pretty strange choice to say that this hit didn’t rise to the occasion of a penalty.
No word yet on Rudolph’s status moving forward but the Steelers will likely have to plan for Hodges to be their guy for the time being. That or see if there’s a free agent they’re willing to roll the dice on until Rudolph is cleared.