Steel City Underground will pick a play of the game from each side of the ball each week of the Steelers 2019 season. Stay tuned as we hand-select the very best from the black and gold!
In an emotional game on Sunday, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mason Rudolph both had heartbreaking moments against the Baltimore Ravens, but on a big play in the first quarter the two Pittsburgh Steelers teammates hooked up and got the crowd pumped up against the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North rivalry game.
The Steelers' opening offensive series did not go as planned but with 4:48 left in the opening quarter, the Steelers started at their own 25-yard line. Rudolph, operating out of the shotgun, was able to hand the ball off to James Conner for a five-yard gain before hitting James Washington on a short pass over the middle for a 21-yard gain. With a new set of downs, Conner ran the ball two plays in a row for eight and six yards respectively, placing the Steelers at the Baltimore 35-yard line.
Rudolph took the snap and was pressured from the right side. Luckily, Conner came up to make the block. With James Washington in the slot on a short curl and Vance McDonald working off a block to do an underneath crossing route, it was Smith-Schuster at the top right of the field and Diontae Johnson at the bottom left. As Johnson and Smith-Schuster crossed in the middle of the field, there was a little body contact between them that caused the Ravens defenders to knock each other off of their coverage. That left Smith-Schuster wide open for a bullet of a pass from Rudolph as he streaked down the field.
Although Marlon Humphrey made a play on the ball, Smith-Schuster used his long body to remain on his feet and ramble into the end zone for the Steelers' first touchdown of the game. Fans were anxious to welcome 'JuJu' into the end zone crowd to celebrate.
Later in the divisional match, Rudolph would be forced out due to a hit in the chin area of his facemask by Earl Thomas as he was also being hit from behind. Smith-Schuster, who was visibly emotional over the injury to his quarterback was the target of a Devlin Hodges pass during the overtime period that went all wrong, with Humphrey once again making a play on the ball rather than the receiver himself. Humphrey was able to punch the ball loose after Smith-Schuster secured the pass, forcing a fumble as the ball remained in the field of play. With Hodges unable to secure the ball, the Ravens recovered and were able to win in overtime with a field goal (both teams having had an opportunity to possess the ball).
A product of the offensive line and extra blocking giving Rudolph time to get the release, the beautiful pass to Smith-Schuster for the score early in the game couldn't quite erase the letdown the team and fans felt as Justin Tucker nailed the game-winner.