Can Steelers beat the Bengals if Ben Roethlisberger can’t play?

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph (2). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers have reason to worry about Sunday’s matchup against the Bengals if Ben Roethlisberger can’t play.

After their eighth straight win to begin the 2020 season, the Steelers get a favorable home matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 10. After somehow coming away with a win against the Dallas Cowboys despite a remarkably slow start that didn’t see Pittsburgh taking the lead until 2:14 remaining in the game, Mike Tomlin’s team is sure to be more prepared against their division rival this week.

But while this game might seem like an easy victory for the Steelers, Pittsburgh was thrown a major curveball on Tuesday. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was considered a ‘high-risk, close contact’ after being in close proximity to Vance McDonald all week, who recently tested positive for COVID-19.

Though Schefter went on to explain that Big Ben should be able to play, assuming he tests negative in each day leading up to Sunday, it’s concerning how close he has been to McDonald. According to Aditi Kinkhabwala, Roethlisberger’s locker is next to McDonald’s, and the Steelers quarterback sat next to Vance on the plane to Dallas.

Could the Steelers beat the Bengals without Ben?

This is a scenario we certainly don’t want to see (or even envision, for that matter). However, with circumstances being what they are, it begs the question: Could the Steelers defeat the Cincinnati Bengals this week if Ben Roethlisberger is unable to suit up?

The simple answer is yes. But it won’t be easy.

Mason Rudolph came in for a drive against the Cowboys, and it wasn’t pretty. After Pittsburgh created a turnover and had great field position with roughly a minute remaining, the third-year quarterback out of Oklahoma State tried to orchestrate a touchdown drive. But that didn’t go so well.

Rudolph lofted a duck to the outside hashes that seemed to take days to reach his target. While he completed 2 of 3 passes before the half, he managed just 3 yards (1.0 yard per attempt). Rudolph was able to help beat the Bengals twice last season, but in his second contest against Cincinnati, he completed just 8 of 16 passes for 85 yards and 1 interception. This earned him a 39.8 passer rating, and he was benched mid-game for Devlin Hodges.

While Pittsburgh’s defense has been brilliant for most of the season, it will take another terrific effort to overcome a Cincinnati offense that now has first overall pick Joe Burrow leading the charge.

Related Story. 4 takeaways from Steelers 24-19 win against the Cowboys in Week 9. light

Obviously, we hope that Mason Rudolph never has to see the field, as we what have seen from him so far in his career has not been promising. Unfortunately, even if Ben Roethlisberger is able to play, he must do so without a week of practice and after sustaining minor injuries to both knees last week against the Cowboys. Let’s hope the Steelers are still able to take care of business and extend their win streak to 9 straight games.