Game on? Steelers, Ravens set to finally meet today
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin isn’t into hypotheticals. The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers coach prefers to deal with what is happening, not what might happen.
This season, however, has challenged that approach. The unbeaten Steelers (10-0) are scheduled to host some semblance of the Baltimore Ravens (6-4) in a game already pushed back three times, first from Thanksgiving to last Sunday, then from last Sunday to Tuesday night, then from Tuesday to Wednesday. The game is the first NFL contest scheduled for a Wednesday since the 2012 season opener.
Assuming, of course, that they play. Hardly a given in a year when uncertainty and chaos is just one positive COVID-19 test away.
“It’s day to day,” Tomlin said. “It’s a sensitive situation.”
An ever-changing one too. The Ravens had more than a dozen players on the reserve/COVID-19 list as of Tuesday afternoon, a group that includes reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. The Steelers have COVID-19 issues of their own, with defensive end Stephon Tuitt and starting running back James Conner among the four players who will not play.
The NFL is making every attempt to keep the league on track to finish a 16-game season in 17 weeks; look for quarterback-less Denver’s loss to New Orleans on Sunday as proof.
“We understand that every team is going through something like this,” Steelers defensive end Cam Heyward said. “Not to this extent, but we have to be ready for any situation.
“I think (Tomlin) has laid out the plan. It’s up for us to follow it and it’s up for us to bounce back with it.”
With a win, the Steelers would effectively eliminate Baltimore, the defending AFC North champions, from the division race. It would also keep Pittsburgh a game clear of reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City for the top seed in the conference — and the one bye available this season.
Yet the Steelers remain wary. The previous time they saw Ravens backup quarterback Robert Griffin III, scheduled to start in place of Jackson, the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year guided Baltimore past Pittsburgh in the 2019 regular-season finale. Baltimore could also have its entire stable of running backs available if Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins both continue to test negative for COVID-19.