Steelers starting Devlin Hodges at QB vs. Browns

The Pittsburgh Steelers are riding the hot hand into Week 13.

Mike Tomlin announced Tuesday the Steelers will start quarterback Devlin Hodges on Sunday at home against the Cleveland Browns.

Hodges replaced Mason Rudolph at halftime of Pittsburgh's narrow victory over the winless Cincinnati Bengals in Week 12 and jumpstarted a lifeless Steelers offense that was operating without running back James Conner, receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and center Maurkice Pouncey. The former practice squad quarterback nicknamed "Duck" completed 5 of 11 passes for 118 yards and a pivotal touchdown pass to James Washington that put Pittsburgh ahead 10-7 and served as the scoring foundation needed to come away with a 16-10 win.

That was enough to earn the starting job in Week 13 (but no promises beyond it, Tomlin added) against a team that intercepted Rudolph four times in their most recent meeting. Rudolph tossed another pick against Cincinnati before he was benched, helping create separation between he and Hodges by way of ineptitude.

When asked why he's choosing Hodges -- owner of a career line of 27-of-40 passing, 318 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a 97.7 passer rating -- over Rudolph for their rematch with the Browns, Tomlin was succinct.

"He has not killed us," Tomlin said.

It's a decision that begs the question: Did the Browns and Steelers reverse roles without any of us witnessing it? A switch to an unheralded quarterback before facing a division rival is something out of the playbook of the Browns - maybe not the 2019 Browns, but many of the Browns squads of the last two decades - not the Steelers.

Such is the state of the quarterback position, though, in a world without Ben Roethlisberger. For their second meeting with Cleveland (5-6), the still-alive Steelers (6-5) will roll with Hodges, not the signal-caller who sparked a brawl at the end of a nightmarish evening for his team.

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