Several prominent members of the Pittsburgh Steelers, such as wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster and cornerback Joe Haden, were particularly frustrated when the league decided to postpone the team’s scheduled Thursday game against the Baltimore Ravens to Sunday (and then to Tuesday), and they openly expressed this frustration publicly on social media.
While they were upset about the game itself, it seemed that their chief frustration was the fact that this was the second time that they had had a game postponed in a way that affected their scheduled time off. In week four, it was decided late in the week that the Tennessee Titans game would be postponed, and that, all of a sudden, the Steelers would be using that as their bye week.
Players were counting on this Thursday game, scheduled to be play last week on Thanksgiving, as a mini-bye week, given them 10 days off between that game and their next game. With the second postponement, it actually works out that this ends up being their mini-bye week, with their next game being on a short week—though longer than a Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround. And players did appreciate the extra rest that they got, between Thursday and Saturday.
“I know our players have enjoyed the three days rest”, head coach Mike Tomlin told reporters yesterday. “There was a lot of energy at practice today. I really think it can be a positive thing if we make it that, and I know that’s our intentions. I know it is for me”.
He also said that “the guys got three days off of their feet, which was really good”, a sentiment echoed by veteran defensive lineman Cameron Heyward. “I needed it, so I’m not going to complain about it”, he said about that rest time. “We had some guys that had nicks and bruises that could use the rest. Whether it is taking care of your body, spending time with family, getting extra preparation, this is a week we can take advantage of it, so I thought we did that”.
It could be that the way in which this worked out was a blessing in disguise—and it could work out that way if the Steelers choose to approach it in that manner, which Tomlin suggested. They got their rest in, even if the timing was unexpected, and unlike last time, their preparation for a set opponent won’t be squandered by suddenly having to play somebody else.
And if we’re being honest, the Ravens game is far more important than the Washington game. Not only is it an intraconference game, it is a divisional game, and one in which it is absolutely imperative that the Ravens win. In fact, if they lose, they would be officially out of the division race with five games to go, while losing significant ground for a wildcard spot on top of that.