The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens are scheduled to play on Tuesday night after their game was postponed twice due to positive COVID-19 tests. Many are surprised the game is even being played, and two players have come up with an interesting alternative to taking the field.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reports that the NFL will not allow the Ravens to practice on Monday, which means they will now go nine days without practicing before facing the Steelers. There are also some questions about travel, as snow is in the forecast for the Pittsburgh area on Tuesday morning. Given everything that is going on, Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey suggested on Monday that Baltimore and Pittsburgh have a “virtual” game instead.
JuJu Smith-Schuster is all for the idea.
The Ravens have had more than 20 players and at least seven starters test positive for COVID-19 since last week. If there are no more positive tests on Monday, Tuesday’s game will likely proceed as scheduled.
Players have already expressed frustration over the way the NFL has handled the situation, but the goal is clearly to play the game as part of Week 12. The Steelers already had a game postponed earlier this season, so the NFL would likely have to add a Week 18 if another Pittsburgh game is moved.
Madden might not sound so bad to some of the players who are wondering what comes next.
The Baltimore Ravens have at least some good news as they enter their Week 12 game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Ravens’ game was postponed from Thursday to Sunday, then to Tuesday, and now it will be played on Wednesday. The reason for the delays has to do with an uncontained COVID-19 outbreak among the Ravens.
Lamar Jackson was one of the players to test positive for the virus, which is why he will not be able to play in Week 12 against the Steelers on Wednesday.
However, running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins, who were among the team’s first players to test positive for the virus, will be eligible to play in the game, NFL Media’s Tom Pelissero reports. That is because both players cleared 10-day isolation periods.
In addition to Jackson, the Ravens will be without Mark Andrews, Matthew Judon and Willie Snead IV for the game.
The NFL is trying to get the game in, and even though Baltimore will get a few players back, the Ravens will still be in a difficult spot.
One of the reasons for the delay to Wednesday was so Baltimore could at least get one workout in before the game after having a week off due to a closed facility. Another reason was to wait for more tests to come in to see if the outbreak was finally contained. One of the positives is that thanks to Ingram and Dobbins being available, the team should be more competitive against the unbeaten Steelers.
Many fans have been wondering why the Denver Broncos were forced to play without a quarterback in their Week 12 game against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, while the Baltimore Ravens continued to get their game postponed. It’s a very good question, and it has a reasonable explanation.
The short answer is that the NFL believed the Broncos’ COVID situation was contained, while the Ravens’ was not.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter offered an explanation during “Monday Night Countdown.”
“It’s all about identification, isolation, and then containment of the virus. As long as the NFL feels like it has identified, isolated and contained the virus, it believes it can play the games,” Schefter said. “If it can’t identify, if it can’t isolate, and it can’t contain — as was the case in Baltimore — they’re going to continue to postpone the game. That’s why the Broncos-Saints game on Sunday was played. Because the league believed the virus was identified, isolated and contained in Denver, whereas it wasn’t in Baltimore. And that’s why that game keeps shifting.”
The decision to postpone or cancel a game is not based on competitive reasons, but just about the virus.
The Broncos had one positive COVID-19 test, and that was for quarterback Jeff Driskel on Thursday. The league on Saturday ruled the team’s other three quarterbacks ineligible to play due to being deemed high-risk contacts. There were no other players deemed at high risk, nor other positive tests. Contrarily, the Ravens continued to have new positive COVID-19 tests trickle out each day, suggesting the virus had not been contained.
As far as the league is concerned, as long as they believe the virus is contained, then it is a team’s problem regarding who is or is not available. In that sense, the availability of players would not be too dissimilar to injuries, which can often put teams in unfavorable positions. Remember, even though Baltimore’s game against Pittsburgh has been postponed from Thursday to Wednesday, they will still be playing without Lamar Jackson, though they get some other key weapons back.
The Baltimore Ravens had a second game postponed as a consequence to their COVID-19 outbreak.
The Ravens were scheduled to play the Pittsburgh Steelers on Thanksgiving evening during Week 12. That game was postponed to Sunday, then Tuesday, and finally has been scheduled to be played on Wednesday Dec. 2 at 3:40 pm ET.
That is not their only game that has been postponed.
Baltimore’s Week 13 game against the Dallas Cowboys was originally scheduled to be the Thursday night game. If the schedule were not altered, the Ravens would have been playing on Wednesday Dec. 2 and Thursday Dec. 3. The NFL originally moved the Thursday game to Monday, Dec. 7. However, that game has now been moved to Tuesday Dec. 8 at 8:05 pm ET.
The NFL moved the Pittsburgh-Washington game from Sunday Dec. 6 to Monday Dec. 7. If the Ravens-Cowboys game had not been moved to Tuesday, the NFL would have had three games on Monday Dec. 7 (Pittsburgh-Washington, Baltimore-Dallas, and the original Monday night game between the Bills and 49ers in Arizona).
The league will now have two games on Monday next week, one on Wednesday, but no Thursday night game.
The NFL postponed the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers Week 12 game until Wednesday so Baltimore would have some time to prepare for the game. But the kickoff time for the contest is an odd one, and that’s for a funny reason.
Baltimore and Pittsburgh were originally set to play on Thursday night. The game then got moved to Sunday, Monday, and ultimately Wednesday. The kickoff will be early in the day, which is unusual for a standalone, non-weekend game.
So why is the game kicking off at 3:40 pm ET and not later in the evening? According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, NBC is committed to broadcasting the 88th Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Wednesday evening. The NFL game got pushed earlier to avoid a conflict.
The “Christmas in Rockefeller Center” is scheduled to begin at 8 pm ET on Wednesday.
So, yes, even the almighty NFL has a superior, and that is their TV network partners. And in this case, they have to start a game during the day because NBC has another program taking precedence.
Several Pittsburgh Steelers players have made it known that they are unhappy about their game against the Baltimore Ravens being postponed, and much of that has to do with what they perceive as inconsistencies in the way the NFL is handling COVID-19 cases.
Andrew Fillipponi of 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh said Tuesday that multiple Steelers players are “ticked off” that their game against the Ravens has been pushed back to Wednesday while the Denver Broncos were forced to play on Sunday with all four of their quarterbacks out. The Ravens-Steelers game was pushed to Wednesday from Tuesday due to “competitive issues,” in part because Baltimore has not been able to practice in over a week.
Because the game was moved to Wednesday, Ravens running backs Mark Ingram and JK Dobbins had enough time to be cleared from COVID-19. Many, including some Steelers players, feel that the NFL helped the Ravens by giving them more time but basically told the Broncos “too bad.”
That’s not what happened. ESPN’s Adam Schefter explained on Monday that the NFL decided to proceed with Sunday’s game between the Broncos and New Orleans Saints because they felt Denver’s COVID situation was contained, whereas the Ravens’ was not. Only Broncos quarterback Jeff Driskel tested positive, and the league ruled Denver’s three other QBs as ineligible to play due to being deemed high-risk contacts. There were no other positive tests and no other players who were deemed high risk.
You can read more of Schefter’s explanation here.
Simply put, the NFL is not playing favorites. The league has a protocol in place for determining when they believe the virus is contained. They were confident the exposure was limited to the Broncos’ four quarterbacks, so that game was played Sunday. The same could not be said for the situation in Baltimore.
The Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday night flew to Pittsburgh for their game against the Steelers on Wednesday. They did so despite having two more positive COVID-19 tests.
According to NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo, the Ravens learned of two more positive COVID-19 tests before flying out. There was no concern for further spread because the individuals were previously identified as potential positives and kept away from others on the team.
Even though the player participated in the walkthrough, distancing was maintained, so nobody was identified as a high-risk contact.
The situation with the Ravens has produced a mess for the team and league this week. The game was postponed from Thursday to Sunday to Tuesday to Wednesday due to multiple positive COVID tests and concerns about the Ravens playing without practicing.
The league and team won’t be satisfied merely getting past Wednesday’s game, as everyone still wants to see all those who tested positive to recover well, and to avoid any more outbreaks within the organization. There were some other games affected by this week’s postponements as well.