Steelers’ Rudolph compares defective ball to one from ‘grandfather’s garage’

August 22, 2018

Mason Rudolph knew something was wrong when he took the snap out of the shotgun and went to throw a deep pass to rookie wide receiver Damoun Patterson.

The football had almost no air in it.

Deflate-gate, Part II? Not quite. Rudolph was the recipient of a defective football that was put into play for one snap in the third quarter of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 31-14 preseason win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night.

“It was like one of those balls that’s in your grandfather’s garage for two years, and you’ve never thrown it and it’s completely flat,” Rudolph said Saturday morning.

At 9:29 of the third quarter, on the fourth play of his second series running the Steelers offense, Rudolph launched a pass down the right sideline that fluttered past Patterson and landed incomplete. The ball was replaced by a regulation one, and the Steelers punted on the next play.

Unlike the Deflategate controversy, the Steelers rookie quarterback didn’t see any benefit from the under-inflated ball he used.

“The thing was completely flat to where it would not have been an advantage,” Rudolph said. “It was the weirdest thing. ... It was kind of a freak deal.”

But not an intentional one. This would not be a repeat of the Deflategate controversy that dogged the New England Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady three years ago.

The NFL quickly squelched any controversy Friday morning by revealing that the ball was defective and would be sent back to the manufacturer.

Still, the football contributed to an incompletion that remains attached to Rudolph’s name on the stat sheet.

“If they could take that off,” Rudolph said, laughing, “that would be great.”

Rudolph completed 7 of 12 passes (including the deflated one) for 101 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. The Steelers got three field goals while Rudolph was in the game, but he didn’t get the offense into the end zone.

That will be an item to be checked off his to-do list when the Steelers play the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night at Lambeau Field.

“I would like to score,” Rudolph said. “You always look forward to your first touchdown. I just want to operate the offense well.”

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