The Pittsburgh Steelers by now should have already played the Tennessee Titans, their game having been schedule to take place yesterday afternoon. Not only did they not play that game, they did not play anybody this week, nor will they. Following a Covid-19 outbreak within the Titans organization, the game entirely was moved to later on in the season, now schedule to be played in week seven.
Needless to say, there was frustration and disappoint from all sides. The Steelers were already deep into preparations and practice for the game by the time it was announced that it would not be played. They also simply wanted to play, and to get on the road in a hostile environment, play in front of fans, and to face a quality opponent.
It also helps that they were on a hot streak. They were 3-0 to start the season, after all, the first time they opened the year with a winning streak of three games or more since 2010, which is the last time that they happened to advance to the Super Bowl.
Nobody was happy about it, of course, but everyone seems to understand that there wasn’t anything to do but adjust to it. Still, JuJu Smith-Schuster, their number one wide receiver, admits that they were kind of blindsided by the entire situation, and the news of the delay.
“We received it Wednesday. Obviously the news got it first on social media, so as a team we were like, ‘okay’. So we’ll see what happens”, he said on CBS Sports HQ late last week. “They closed their facility until Saturday. We were supposed to play Tuesday, they ended up canceling their game and they postponed it to week seven. For us it’s like, ‘wow’. So we go from our bye week being week seven to our bye week being week four. It kind of just hit us in the mouth”.
The Steelers were scheduled to have their bye in week eight, a week after playing the Baltimore Ravens in week seven. Now they will play the Titans in week seven and the Ravens in week eight, with Baltimore’s bye week now moved to the week before they face Pittsburgh.
The only thing that we know for sure at the moment is that they are now facing the prospect of finishing the season playing 13 consecutive regular season games before they have an opportunity to compete in the postseason. That’s far from unheard of, as week four byes are far from uncommon, but most generally seem to prefer later dates.
And it’s an entirely different ball game when it comes unplanned and at a moment’s notice. Ordinarily, during a bye week, you can even make plans to take a short vacation. Under these circumstances, they were meeting and practicing. And now they have to stay around to take Covid tests, anyway.
So yeah, a hit to the mouth sounds about right. But they had the bye week to recover, and now it’s on to Philadelphia.