After losing by a combined score of six in the past two weeks, the Pittsburgh Steelers finally earned their first win of the season against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals on Monday night.

Since trading Josh Dobbs to the Jacksonville Jaguars less than a month ago, the Steelers have committed to Mason Rudolph being the future of this franchise. While that future came early with Ben Roethlisbergers season ending two weeks ago, Rudolph hasn’t disappointed in his first two starts and led his team to Monday night’s victory.

A new kind of offense blossomed for Pittsburgh this week, with Jaylen Samuels and James Conner picking up over 200 yards from scrimmage, using sweeps and Wildcat formations on some downs to run all over the Cincinnati front seven. A good running night was boosted by Rudolph proving himself through the air: he threw for 229 yards and two touchdowns and completed 24-28 passes.


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Rudolph mostly threw short and let his receivers do the rest, as 169 of the 229 yards came after the catch. While mostly throwing short passes to the running backs, Rudolph proved he had could threaten long when he threw a 43-yard bomb to rookie wideout Diontae Johnson for a score in the third quarter. While the Steelers’ offense fired on all cylinders, the defense fared just as well, as they sacked Andy Dalton eight times and forced two fumbles.


After allowing an early field goal, the Pittsburgh defense kept Cincinnati scoreless for the next 51 minutes. They were led by Mark Barron’s 11 tackles and Cameron Hayward’s 2.5 sacks, as the Bengals could never get their offense rolling against the stout Steelers defense.

While it was a new style of offense — sometimes more comparable to college playbook than NFL ones — the Steelers got the job done with Rudolph at the helm and will continue to develop him into the quarterback they need. Instead of giving up on the season due to Roethlisberger’s injury, the Steelers look determined to continue winning this season, even if it means using a new playbook to make it all work. The Steelers will have a mightier challenge next week as they face Lamar Jackson and the division rival Baltimore Ravens at home. The Bengals will take on the equally winless Arizona Cardinals in hopes of getting their season on track.

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