The Pittsburgh Steelers couldn’t take long to bask in their win over the Baltimore Ravens. Immediately after the much-needed victory, their attention turned to Thursday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. For Mike Tomlin, that meant not watching back a single snap of Sunday’s win. For the players, that means getting your body and your mind right for such a quick turnaround.
Talking to reporters Tuesday, Heyward described how he and the team will try to prepare themselves in just a matter of days.
“I think for the most part is just trying to get your body back by Thursday,” he said in audio provided by the team. “It’s weird being on a Tuesday, everybody’s been saying the same thing. We couldn’t play a game on Tuesday because our bodies are not there right now. We gotta really take care of our bodies and hop on a plane and get ready to play.”
As Ben Roethlisberger joked post-game following Sunday’s win, he doesn’t even always practice on Thursdays, let alone play in a game. Veterans like Roethlisberger, and to a lesser extent, Heyward, have gotten days off early in the week. This week affords no such luxuries and will not only test the team physically but mentally, especially after a high-energy game against the Ravens.
“New challenges arise and you gotta get your body right. Your mental’s gotta be up., You gotta relish these moments. As much as we like to talk about, it’s a short turnaround, but on the back end, there’s a bit of a rest space after you take of your business. All we’re thinking about is trying to get a win back in Minnesota.”
Following Thursday’s game, the Steelers will get ten days off before their Week 15 contest against the Tennessee Titans. Getting a victory to push the team to 7-5-1 would be a good feeling heading into the mini bye week.
For veteran players, it’s arguably harder for them to get right physically than it is mentally. For rookies and young players, the opposite is probably true. Easier physically, harder mentally. For the group, it’s about doing the little things and putting in the extra work, along with knowing when to rest, that will make the transition to a Thursday game as smooth as possible.
Of course, the Vikings are dealing with similar issues, so in that respect, the playing field is largely even. The one advantage Minnesota has is being the home team. Not having to spend that precious time traveling is important. But for the Steelers, in the middle of a jumbled playoff race, there can’t be any excuses. Just more victories.