Rudolph exits after scary hit, Ravens edge Steelers in OT

Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2) is hit by Baltimore Ravens free safety Earl Thomas (29), left, and cornerback Brandon Carr (24) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — After Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph was knocked unconscious by a head-high hit in the third quarter Sunday, Justin Tucker made a 46-yard field goal in overtime to lift the Baltimore Ravens past the Steelers 26-23 on Sunday.

Baltimore (3-2) snapped a two-game skid when safety Marlon Humphrey stripped Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and recovered the fumble at the Pittsburgh 34. Tucker knocked through the winner four plays later.

Lamar Jackson threw for 161 yards with a touchdown and three picks and also ran for a game-high 70 yards. Mark Ingram ran for a touchdown for the Ravens, who won in Pittsburgh (1-4) for the second straight season.

Rudolph threw for 131 yards and a score before suffering a concussion following a hit to the chin by Baltimore safety Earl Thomas. Backup Devlin Hodges played admirably in Rudolph’s place, throwing for 68 yards and directing a pair of scoring drives after Rudolph’s exit. James Conner ran for 55 yards and a touchdown for Pittsburgh.

Long one of the AFC’s most heated rivalries, the game took a turn in the third quarter with the Ravens leading 17-13.

The Steelers were facing third-and-11 at the Pittsburgh 12 midway through the third quarter when Rudolph dropped back to pass. The play broke down and Rudolph scrambled to his left and stepped up field. He flicked the ball to teammate James Washington just before the crown of Thomas’ helmet hit Rudolph under the chin. Rudolph fell to the ground and lay on the field motionless for several minutes while several teammates became visibly upset as the stadium fell silent.

The scene of players on both sides going down to one knee while a medical team attended to Rudolph was eerily similar to the on-field reaction in Cincinnati in December, 2017 when Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier sustained a spinal injury. Rudolph was able to stand up and be helped off the field by several teammates, a move made necessary when the medical cart wouldn’t start. Shazier, currently on the Physically Unable to Perform list while he continues his rehab from spinal stabilization surgery, walked over to Rudolph and briefly comforted him as Rudolph made his way to the locker room for further treatment and examination as the crowds chanted “throw him out” at Thomas.

Rudolph’s injury thrust Hodges, an undrafted rookie free agent out of Samford, into a role he couldn’t have envisioned when the Steelers signed him to be a “camp” arm before organized team activities. He played well in the preseason but didn’t make the cut only to find himself signed to the practice squad when Pittsburgh traded Josh Dobbs to Jacksonville. Hodges was elevated to backup status when Roethlisberger went down with an elbow injury.

He trotted onto the field when Rudolph ducked out of view and hardly looked nervous, leading the Steelers on a drive that ended with Conner’s 1-yard touchdown run that put the Steelers in front. Baltimore pulled even on Tucker’s field goal. Hodges later used a 21-yard sprint to set up Chris Boswell’s go-ahead field goal with 2:41 remaining. Jackson countered with a drive that ended with Tucker’s third field goal that tied it with 14 seconds remaining.

Pittsburgh won the coin toss to start overtime but curiously opted to kick the ball rather than receive it. The Steelers forced a Baltimore punt, but Humphrey punched the ball out of Smith-Schuster’s hands then pounced on it to put the Ravens in position to win.

INJURIES

Ravens: Safety Tony Jefferson went down in the fourth quarter with a left knee injury.

Steelers: Wide receiver James Washington Barron left in the third quarter with a shoulder injury and did not return. Linebacker Mark Barron exited in the second quarter with a hamstring injury.

UP NEXT

Ravens: Hosts AFC North rival Cincinnati next Sunday. The teams split their two meetings in 2018.

Steelers: Visit Los Angeles to face the Chargers next Sunday. Los Angeles beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh 33-30 last season.

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