Pittsburgh Steelers fans were not about to count their chickens before they hatched this week. We've seen this song and dance before. In Week 15, Mike Tomlin's team jumped out to a 13-0 lead against the Colts before Indianapolis piled on 30 straight points.
This time around, however, things just felt different. Perhaps this had something to do with a change at the helm. With their backs against the wall in a do-or-die performance that could have knocked them out of playoff contention, the Steelers delivered with their biggest and most convincing game of the season in a 34-11 victory.
There are plenty of encouraging performances to note on both sides of the football for Pittsburgh, but these four Steelers made themselves some exotic fur coats out of the Bengals while snapping Cincy's three-game winning streak.
1. Mason Rudolph, Quarterback
As outstanding as some of these performances were by individual Steelers players in Week 16, I'd be remiss if I didn't start by praising Mason Rudolph. Pittsburgh's third-string quarterback was put in an incredibly tight spot after Tomlin's team suffered their third straight loss.
As a last resort, Tomlin turned to his third-string quarterback in a must-win game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Rudolph delivered in the biggest way imaginable. Though he missed a few wide-open receivers down the field, Rudolph's willingness to sling the pigskin led to some huge plays for Pittsburgh's offense.
By the end of the game, Rudolph had compiled 290 yards and 2 touchdowns on a thoroughly impressive 10.7 yards per attempt to go with a passer rating of 124.0, per ESPN box score stats. Rudolph's outstanding performance helped the Steelers cruise to victory, and a quarterback controversy is already brewing in Pittsburgh as Kenny Pickett aims for a return to the field.