Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers-Cleveland Browns game has more juice than you usually get in a game with one team resting its starting quarterback in Week 17. Mason Rudolph is set to start for Ben Roethlisberger as the Steelers prepare for the playoffs.
It was Rudolph in at quarterback for the Steelers last season, when a pretty nasty brawl broke out late during a game between these two teams. Garrett infamously whacked Rudolph over the head with a helmet during the scuffle, leading to a suspension for the final six games of the season. He alleged that Rudolph used a racial slur against him, though the NFL has said that it found no evidence that the quarterback did so before being hit over the head with his helmet.
The Browns don’t need much extra motivation. The team can clinch a playoff berth with a win over the Steelers. Pittsburgh may be resting some guys, but they’d like a shot at the No. 2 seed in the AFC, and of course, the history between these two teams provides some extra motivation on that side as well.
“I know Mason is going to give us some energy at the spot,” running back James Conner told Steelers.com this week. “I know he is fired up to play. We are fired up to play with him as well. Line do what they do, backs, ball placement, run hard, receivers got to make plays. That’s really all it comes down to, play making.”
Steelers fans may not be “fired up” to watch Mason Rudolph play on Sunday, but James Conner says Steelers players are “fired up” to play with him https://t.co/rBioeRfvLC
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 2, 2021
Rudolph was asked about the situation with Myles Garrett, and downplayed the whole situation. He did say that Garrett has not reached out since the incident.
“He has not reached out to me in any capacity, but I have a lot of respect for Myles,” Rudolph said. “…Outside of that, this game’s too big to worry about anything external that happened years ago.”
Before the season, Garrett said that he’d like to have a sit down with Rudolph to clear the air, something that Rudolph has said he is interested in. Obviously the COVID-19 situation complicates matters, but we’ll see if the two interact at all on the field this Sunday.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns kick off at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday afternoon.
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