For the second time this season the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a game postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak on an opposing team. On Wednesday the NFL announced that the Ravens-Steelers game scheduled for Thanksgiving night has been moved to Sunday as the Ravens deal with what appears to be a growing cluster of COVID-19 cases among players and staffers.
“This decision was made out of an abundance of caution to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and game day personnel and in consultation with medical experts,” the league said in its statement.
Steelers Have Had 2 Games Postponed This Season
But Steelers players aren’t pleased at having a second game postponed within the span of two months, the first postponement coming in October after a COVID-19 outbreak among Tennessee Titans players, coaches and staffers. Making matters worse, it was later determined that Titans players held a workout during their outbreak, and the Titans were subsequently fined for COVID-19 protocol violations.
“First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their COVID situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh,” tweeted Steelers wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster.
Steelers tight end Eric Ebron was even more outspoken, and also mentioned being displeased about losing the opportunity to play on a national holiday—in primetime.
to talk about what exactly? how they keep F**in us. we had a week 4 bye cause of this, now the only time we look forward to some rest was after one of the biggest PRIMETIME games we no longer have. we keep getting screwed this year. https://t.co/926ImapBOO
— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) November 25, 2020
Rookie wide receiver Chase Claypool was more succinct:
What a joke….
— Chase Claypool (@ChaseClaypool) November 25, 2020
But the fact is that the COVID-19 outbreak among Ravens players and staffers doesn’t yet seem to be controlled.
On Monday the Ravens placed running backs Mark Ingram and J.K. Dobbins on the COVID-19 Reserve list after both tested positive for the virus. Then defensive lineman Brandon Williams was added to the list, as well as outside linebacker Pernell McPhee, the latter on Tuesday afternoon.
Most recently, offensive linemen Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari were added, as well as defensive end Calais Campbell. Ravens staff members are said to be affected, too, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network/NFL.com.
To clarify: These players are going on the COVID-19 reserve list, which is for positive tests and high-risk close contacts. Along with several staff members. https://t.co/0Mrs0FTTmj
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 25, 2020
According to Mike Garafolo, reporter for NFL Network, the league didn’t postpone the game because of a competitive imbalance issue. The NFL wanted a few more days of COVID-19 testing “to ensure the spread is contained,” advised Garafolo.
Let me rephrase for clarity here. The league did not postpone the game due to the #Ravens' being shorthanded. The decision was made because there are a bunch of #Ravens who are close contacts. They want a few more days of tests to ensure the spread is contained. https://t.co/Zh1F7fcVjP
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) November 25, 2020
Anyway, unless the Ravens-Steelers game is postponed beyond Sunday, the Ravens are going to be significantly shorthanded vs. Pittsburgh, as it’s doubtful that any of the players added to the COVID-19 Reserve list this week will be cleared in time for Sunday’s matchup.
On the other hand, if Baltimore’s outbreak continues to worsen and the game can’t be played this week, it may need to be moved to a “Week 18,” as Baltimore’s following contest is slated for Thursday December 3rd vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
At the moment, the Steelers have just one player on the team’s COVID-19 Reserve list, that being rookie offensive guard Kevin Dotson. In early November, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was fined $100,000 for not wearing a mask at all times on the sideline during the team’s game at Baltimore. The organization was also fined $250,000 for that indiscretion.
The NFL on Thanksgiving Day
The postponement of the Ravens-Steelers game leaves the NFL with a relatively unattractive pair of games on Thanksgiving Day, as Houston (3-7) is slated to visit Detroit (4-6) in the early afternoon game, with Washington (3-7) scheduled to play Dallas (3-7) in the late afternoon game.
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