Rudolph and Washington Pace Steelers Offense in Win

Watch as Steelers players react postgame, hear from Mike Tomlin

Josh Rowntree
August 10, 2019 - 1:27 am

While there is little doubt as to who stood out on the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers’ offense had a number of contributors in its 30-28 preseason win over Tampa Bay Friday night.

Leading the way was the Cowboy connection. 

Former Oklahoma State teammates Mason Rudolph and James Washington had strong outings, as both are battling for No. 2 spots in their respective positions.

Rudolph was 5-of-8 passing for 91 yards and a pair of touchdowns, including one to Washington, who grabbed four passes for 84 yards. 

Related: Preseason Game Pics: Steelers vs Buccaneers

The touchdown hook up was a beauty, as Rudolph found the back shoulder of Washington, in tight coverage, in the right side of the end zone.

“I think you’ve seen it in spring and you’ve seen it in training camp,” Rudolph said of Washington’s improvement from a disappointing rookie season. “He’s put a lot of work in this offseason. Physically, he dropped some weight, just getting in better shape and just staying in his (playbook).

“He understands our offense. He understands all of the spots instead of just his one spot. He’s just more comfortable and you’re seeing the positives on the field.”

The mental side of the game is what Washington thinks has improved the most for him, too. And that’s key, as he is fighting for the second receiver position with a veteran in Donte Moncrief.

“Things have kind of slowed down a little bit,” he said. “Just knowing more of the playbook and being more of a well-rounded receiver. 

“I would say I’m a lot more comfortable than I was last year. But it’s just the first preseason game. I have to keep building off this one. You can’t get too high on a player. I’ve just got to stay steady and keep going.”

Rudolph deserved some praise, as well. And he got it from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

“Not an extended look, but I like what I saw,” Tomlin said. “He’ll continue to write that script. Not only him, but all of them. I like what I saw from all three guys who played under center tonight.”

Dobbs So-So in Starter Role

Washington’s nice night got started thanks, in part, to a bomb of a pass from Josh Dobbs, who started the game in place of the resting Ben Roethlisberger. 

The connection, which originated at Pittsburgh’s six yard line, went for 43 yards. 

Dobbs, who backed up Roethlisberger all of last season, came out of the game for Rudolph late in the second quarter, finishing 5-of-8 for 85 yards. He also had two impressive runs, totaling 44 yards, the most of any player in the game.

“When you got on the field, you just play football. You go through your reads, if an opportunity comes to make a play, you do it, whether if its with your arms or your legs.

“It was good to get out there, make plays and move the ball efficiently.”

Dobbs had an intercepted pass overturned due to a penalty. He also took two sacks. But Tomlin was, like with Rudolph, complimentary of the way Dobbs played.

“I’ve always liked his prudent use of agility and escapability,” Tomlin said. “I think it’s been an asset to him in the past and it was an asset to him tonight. The key is a prudent use of it. He did a nice job.”

Boswell Stays Hot

Steelers kicker Chris Boswell made a pair of field goals, from 33 and 47 yards, as well as an extra point, keeping his strong month going.

Boswell, in pressure kick situations during camp, entered the game having made 27-of-28 kicks through training camp. 

This comes after a disastrous season in which Boswell missed 12 kicks, including seven field goal attempts. But so far, so good.

“Day in and day out, I just come out calm and start with a fresh mind,” Boswell said. “Don’t let anything linger, don’t let anything carry over. I’m hitting the ball really well right well and I’ve just got to keep it up.”

In a competition with rookie Matthew Wright, Boswell has been the better of the two to this point, with noticeably more distance to his kicks in years past.

“It’s more competition of me versus me,” he said. “I’m out there with myself, I’m not out there with him or the other team’s kicker. It’s what am I doing with this kick and then go from there.”

Positive Injury News

Tomlin said that the team came out of the game generally injury free. It is believed that linebacker Ola Adeniyi was looked at for a concussion, but passed the tests. He did not, however, re-enter the game.

The only injury came to reserve tight end Christian Scotland-Williamson, who has a hamstring issue, according to Tomlin. Scotland-Williamson, however, is not a strong candidate to make the 53-man roster.

Hear from Steelers coach Mike Tomlin below.