The Pittsburgh Steelers will play the Oakland Raiders on the road Sunday afternoon and it’s no secret that the team has had their share of struggles against them in addition to other games played against other teams in the Mountain and Pacific time zones. In fact, if not for a last-second touchdown run by running back Le’Veon Bell against the San Diego Chargers in 2015, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin would enter Sunday’s road game against the Raiders with an 0-5 record instead of 1-4 in games played in the Pacific time zone.
During his Tuesday press conference, Tomlin was asked if there are any challenges related to going to the West Coast to play a game because of his teams not faring well historically when having to play west of the Mississippi river.
“I’m sure there are some, not any that I’m willing to acknowledge or at least acknowledge from a logistical standpoint,” Tomlin said. “We’ve got a game to go play. They’ve played East Coast games. It’s life in our League. Historically, some of the things that you mentioned, we just spent a lot of time talking about history. My concern is this group this week in preparation for the group that they employ, so that’s my focus. I acknowledge the history that you speak of, but it’s not a major component of logistical preparation and things of that nature for us as we get ready for this game. It’s just not.”
When he talked to the media on Wednesday, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was asked a question similar to the one Tomlin was asked on Tuesday in regard to there possibly being issues with the team when traveling to the West Coast.
“I’ve been doing it for a while and I hear people talking about it. Whether you are going to elevation in Denver or going to the West Coast, West-East, however you want to say it, but I’ve heard people say if it’s under 24 hours it doesn’t affect your body,” Roethlisberger said. “We’ve always gone at the same time as long as I’ve been here. This year we are going earlier in the day, so I guess we are trying something different.”
Ben Roethlisberger talks about the tough Oakland environment, the running game without James Conner and the final games of the regular season. pic.twitter.com/ZSawHfS2PR
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 5, 2018
With the Roethlisberger admitting that the team will leave earlier this year for Oakland, that doesn’t mean that they’ll be leaving on Friday as opposed to Saturday as Tomlin made that clear when asked about that on Tuesday.
“We will not,” Tomlin said.
So, how much earlier will the Steelers leave on Saturday than they normally do for games played in the Pacific time zone? Also, what time has been normal for them to fly out of Pittsburgh the day before they play a game in the Pacific time zone?
Below are tweets from the Steelers official Twitter account just ahead of the team leaving Pittsburgh the day before a game they were scheduled to play in the Pacific time zone. As you can see, four of their last five trips to the Pacific time zone included the team roughly departing Pittsburgh around 3:00 p.m. EST. It will now be interesting to see if perhaps the team flies out at around noon, or even earlier, this Saturday.
Under Tomlin the Steelers are 0-2 against the Raiders in Oakland while Roethlisberger is 0-3. The Steelers were also road favorites in their previous three trips to Oakland. In his only three games played against the Raiders in Oakland, Roethlisberger has 6 touchdown passes and 6 interceptions. Additionally, he was sacked a total of 11 times in those previous three games against the Raiders.
“It’s not an easy place to play,” Roethlisberger said of Oakland. “What an awesome challenge for us.”
Sunday 3:06 PM – 11 Oct 2015
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 11, 2015
Saturday 2:48 PM – 28 Nov 2015
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) November 28, 2015
Saturday 1:30 PM – 26 Oct 2013
The Beard is on the plane. pic.twitter.com/AVZsc37NAE
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) October 26, 2013
Saturday 2:42 PM – 22 Sep 2012
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) September 22, 2012
Sunday 2:50 PM – 18 Dec 2011
In the air #SteelersNation see you soon
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 18, 2011