PITTSBURGH — The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to let Ben Roethlisberger rest up for the playoffs.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday that Roethlisberger will not play when the AFC North champion Steelers (12-3) visit rival Cleveland (10-5) in the regular-season finale on Sunday.

Pittsburgh can finish no worse than third in the AFC and is out of the running for home-field advantage after defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City locked it up last weekend.

So rather than put the 38-year-old Roethlisberger at risk, backup Mason Rudolph will return to the scene of the ugly brawl that marred the end of Pittsburgh’s previous visit to FirstEnergy Stadium.

The Browns drilled the Steelers 21-7 on Nov. 14, 2019, a game in which Rudolph threw four interceptions. Even worse, he and Cleveland defensive end Myles Garrett got into a fight in the final minutes that ended with Garrett ripping off Rudolph’s helmet and hitting Rudolph with it before being taken out by Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey.

The aftermath included Garrett – who claimed he erupted after being called a racial slur by Rudolph, an accusation the league could not substantiate and one Rudolph denied – getting suspended for the remainder of the 2019 season.

Rudolph, thrust into the starting role thanks to a season-ending right elbow injury to Roethlisberger in Week 2, struggled the following week against Cincinnati before being benched. Tomlin said he is not concerned about last year’s incident being a factor for Rudolph.

“I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it, but I’m sure he’s excited about getting the opportunity to start, certainly,” Tomlin said.

Garrett has moved on after being reinstated during the offseason and in addition to having a standout year was also the team’s nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, an honor given to players for their work both on and off the field.

Garrett’s first game against the Steelers this season was uneventful, a 38-7 Pittsburgh win on Oct. 18 in which Rudolph actually came on in mop-up duty of Roethlisberger in the fourth quarter.

The Browns can end their 18-year playoff drought with a victory. They are confident that motivation alone will outweigh any lingering bad feelings about facing Rudolph.

“I understand the emotions and all of that kind of stuff, but I feel like Myles’ maturity level and the team’s maturity level as a whole is that we understand that this is bigger than one incident and bigger than one situation,” Cleveland linebacker Larry Ogunjobi said.

“Right now, it is about doing something that has not been done in a very long time, and it is about playing for each and every one of us, our brothers, and finding a way to win. That is the most important thing. That is my take on it.”

The stakes are considerably lower for Pittsburgh, which wrapped up its seventh AFC North title in Tomlin’s 14 seasons by rallying past Indianapolis 28-24, a game in which Roethlisberger shook off a monthlong funk to throw for three second-half touchdowns.

The best the Steelers could hope for this weekend is a win over Cleveland and a loss by Buffalo, a combination that would lift Pittsburgh to the AFC’s second seed and assure it home field in each of the first two rounds should the Steelers make it that far.

Either way, the Steelers have successfully avoided a potential meeting with the Chiefs until the AFC championship game, provided either make it that far.

There’s a chance a handful of Pittsburgh’s other high-profile players could get the day off in Cleveland provided there is enough depth available.

“I’d much rather preserve and protect players with a rotational mindset than to remove one player and expose the rest of the group to an abnormal number of snaps,” Tomlin said.

“It’s a blessing to be in these circumstances and make these types of decisions. Make no mistake about it, it does not change our intentions. Football is our game. Our job is winning. We intend to do our job.”

BROWNS: With their biggest game in years just days away, the Cleveland Browns added two more players to their lengthy COVID-19 list.

Starting safety Andrew Sendejo and rookie tight end Harrison Bryant were placed on the list Tuesday, giving Cleveland eight players on the list. It’s not yet known if Sendejo or Bryant tested positive for the virus or if they had close contact with an infected person.

Both played in Sunday’s 23-16 loss to the New York Jets, when the Browns (10-5) were missing six players, including their top four wide receivers, due to COVID-19 protocols.

If they are positive, Sendejo and Bryant would have to sit out 10 days from the time of their test and would miss Sunday’s game against Pittsburgh.

The Browns will make the playoffs for the first time since 2002 with a win over the Steelers.

TITANS: Derrick Henry has been running into lots of NFL records, and now he’s a game away from joining another exclusive group.

Only six men have led the NFL in rushing in consecutive seasons since the league went to a 16-game season, and no one has managed that feat since LaDainian Tomlinson went back to back in 2006 and 2007.

Tomlinson believes it’s a foregone conclusion that Henry will join that group when the regular season ends Sunday.

“It’s pretty remarkable to be able to do it, to call yourself back-to-back rushing champs,” Tomlinson said. “It’s a small elite club, and it’s a big deal. So … I’m wishing him the best. I’m rooting for him.”

Henry led the NFL with 1,540 yards rushing last season before running the Tennessee Titans to their first AFC championship game in 17 years. Henry easily has topped that with 1,777 yards, putting him 220 ahead of Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook going into Sunday’s regular-season finale at Houston (4-11).

Not that the two-time Pro Bowler and 2015 Heisman Trophy winner tracks yards as he tries to run the Titans to their first Super Bowl in 21 seasons.

“Not really worried about stats,” Henry said. “Worried about winning. Stats are stats but we’re worried about winning. How can we help contribute to us winning a football game? Forget the stats.”

The 6-foot-3, 247-pound Henry is disproving the NFL trend of pass-happy offenses with running backs devalued as replaceable parts not worth contract extensions. The Titans made clear how much they value Henry by signing him to a four-year deal worth up to $50 million in July.

That only made Henry a bigger target this season.

Adrian Peterson led the NFL in rushing three separate seasons but never consecutively. He said that’s why being the top rusher in back-to-back seasons is so hard, especially when combined with so many talented running backs in the league.

“You never know who’s going to come out and have a great year,” Peterson said. “Especially that next year when your name is what it is and you’re Derrick Henry. Teams are coming in, they’re trying to stop you, and that right there makes it even more impressive to see what he’s been able to accomplish.”

Henry, who turns 27 on Monday, has improved his rushing yards per game each of his five seasons in the NFL. He averaged 102.7 yards per game last season, and Henry’s even better in 2020, running for 118.5 yards a game in 2020.

He’s also upped his average per carry each of the past three seasons and currently is at 5.2 yards a carry.

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