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'Your stomach just drops. You feel sick': NFL QB Mason Rudolph knocked unconscious after vicious helmet-to-helmet hit (VIDEO)

'Your stomach just drops. You feel sick': NFL QB Mason Rudolph knocked unconscious after vicious helmet-to-helmet hit (VIDEO)
Pittsburgh Steelers are now down to their third-string quarterback after Mason Rudolph left Sunday's AFC North game with divisional rivals Baltimore Ravens after being knocked out by a gruesome hit by Earl Thomas.

Rudolph, who was named to the Steelers' starting team after longtime starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had his season ended prematurely by injury, suffered the hit in the third quarter of the game.

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The resulting hit from Thomas appeared to immediately render Rudolph unconscious as his limp body tumbled to the turf. Several of his teammates immediately motioned for medics to come on to the field to treat the injured player, as several Steelers showed their concern by kneeling around their prone teammate. 

A mobile stretcher was called to field apparently malfunctioned, as a then-conscious Rudolph was forced to walk from the field with the help of medical staff to the sound of rapturous applause from the crowd. 

Injuries such as this are a source of huge concern for the Steelers fanbase and bring back memories of linebacker Ryan Shazier suffering a severe spinal cord injury in a game with the Cincinnati Bengals. 

"You're just waiting, waiting, waiting for him to get up," Steelers guard David DeCastro said after the game.

"It took a little longer than I expected. The seconds turn into minutes and the minutes turn into longer.

"Your stomach just drops. You feel sick."

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However, the good news is that Rudolph's condition doesn't appear to be too serious as NFL insider Adam Schefter reported that he has been discharged from hospital and is now in concussion protocol, in which he must pass a series of cognitive tests in order to be eligible to play again.

The Steelers' third-choice quarterback Devlin Hodges was drafted into the game in Rudolph's absence, but couldn't help his team avoid a 26-23 overtime defeat.