On Tuesday, HC Mike Tomlin spoke to the media in his weekly press conference where he talked about the team’s win this past weekend on Christmas Eve at home against the Las Vegas Raiders and previewed the team’s upcoming Week 17 matchup on the road against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football.
When Tomlin finished up his opening statement and mentioned having this week’s matchup with the Baltimore Ravens flexed to Sunday Night Football, Tomlin stated that he is excited to face off against another well-respected head coach and a formidable opponent in primetime.
“He’s an awesome dance partner,” Tomlin said regarding John Harbaugh to the media on video from the team’s YouTube channel. “It’s just good to be in significant games. When I got the call the other night that the game was flexed, man, I didn’t hate that. I love that. If your games are not getting flexed this time of year, you’re not doing it right. You’re not in significant ones. And so, we don’t run from that. We run to that. Although we do respect their environment and the hostility of that environment on Sunday Night Football, we are not going to hate the fact that we’re there. We’re going to embrace that and smile in the face of the adversity that those variables create.”
Oftentimes when games are flexed to primetime, it comes with mixed emotions from different parties. The fans enjoy it because they get to see their favorite team on TV in primetime, getting the opportunity to see them play at night likely with other family and friends around. However, many players don’t like to prospect of playing in primetime since they must wait to after 8PM EST to start playing a football game that won’t get done till nearly midnight. The same goes for us at Steelers Depot and other media who will stay up into early hours of the next day to cover the game and all the news that comes out after the game is completed.
However, Mike Tomlin relishes the opportunity to play in primetime, noting that it’s a gesture to him and his team that they are playing for something of significance late in the season. That appears to be the case with Pittsburgh battling back to relevancy after starting the season 3-7, working back to a game within .500 and an outside chance of making it into the postseason.
Tomlin credits Ravens HC John Harbaugh and the entire Ravens football team as being a great dance partner, having had quite their battles in primetime since Tomlin arrived in Pittsburgh. Ravens/Steelers has been recognized as one of the greatest rivalries in all of football thanks to the physicality both teams bring to the table when they come to face one another. While names like Ray Lewis, Ed Reed, Terrell Suggs, Ben Roethlisberger, James Harrison, and Troy Polamalu no longer take part in this historic rivalry, both teams understand the importance and significance when the two squads are pitted against one another.
That will be the case once again come New Year’s Day on Sunday night as the Ravens look to end the Steelers’ hopes of a playoff berth while the Steelers look to get revenge against the Ravens after having a bad taste left in their mouth after the first matchup.