The Thanksgiving night game between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has been postponed to Sunday afternoon, the NFL said on Wednesday.
The decision came after the Ravens COVID-19 outbreak worsened and provoked an angry response from Steelers players.
Baltimore will add three more players – offensive linemen Patrick Mekari and Matt Skura and defensive ending Calais Campbell – On the reserve / COVID-19 list on Wednesday, according to a source. The Ravens now have seven players who tested positive or identified as close contacts.
The NFL has decided to postpone the game because it plans to use the rest of the week to conduct further testing and contact tracing, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The announcement was made about 31 hours before the scheduled kick-off.
“This decision was made out of caution, to ensure the health and safety of players, coaches and match day staff, and in consultation with medical experts,” the NFL said in a statement.
The outbreak was widespread in Baltimore, where members of the Ravens’ coaching staff and support staff also tested positive.
“We appreciate the NFL for their diligence in working closely with us to ensure the well-being of the players, coaches and staff for the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers organizations,” the Ravens said in a statement.
This is the second time the Steelers’ schedule has been affected by COVID-19. Their week 4 game against the Tennessee Titans has been postponed to week 7 due to an outbreak in the Titans organization. The Ravens first matchup was then postponed from Week 7 to the originally planned Steelers reunion in Week 8, and the postponement from Week 4 became Pittsburgh’s de facto Goodbye Week.
This time around, the Steelers lose their mini-bye week as the Thanksgiving game is postponed to Sunday.
Steeler’s broad receiver JuJu Smith-Cobbler tweeted within minutes of the announcement on Wednesday, expressing disappointment.
First the NFL is taking away our bye week because another team can’t match their Covid situation, now they are taking away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.
– JuJu Smith-Schuster (@TeamJuJu) November 25, 2020
Sources told ESPN the Steelers will have a player’s day off Thursday after Wednesday’s practice session. Coach Mike Tomlin had planned to leave his players by next Wednesday after the Thanksgiving game, but those plans have changed.
“We feel we know exactly when and how the transmission took place,” said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer, told NFL Network on Wednesday. “I think we feel like we are a few days away from this window of vulnerability to this transmission event.”
This is the 13th game that has been postponed or postponed this season due to coronavirus-related issues. However, it’s the first postponement since week 5. Three weeks ago, the San Francisco 49ers played against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, despite occupying four players on the Reserve / COVID-19 list.
On the previous Wednesday, some Ravens players expressed concern about the game.
This is the first time since 2005 that the NFL will only play two games on Thanksgiving.
The Ravens outbreak began hours after Sunday’s 30:24 extra time against the Tennessee Titans as the team learned to run back JK Dobbins and Mark Ingram had tested positive. Nasal device Brandon Williams was later identified as a high risk close contact.
On Monday, Baltimore closed its facility in the morning before reopening in the afternoon when the team held a walking tour. One day later, the Ravens closed the system again after positive tests and carried out all team activities virtually. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee became the fourth Baltimore player to be added to the reserve / COVID-19 list in two days.
The rescheduling of Baltimore’s Thanksgiving game to Sunday means fast action. The Ravens will host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday December 3rd. The Cowboys have a full week to rest after playing Thanksgiving, and Baltimore will be taking a three-day break.
The ravens could enter the game with short hands. All players who test positive must be quarantined for at least 10 days.
The Steelers, who are 10-0 for the first time in franchise history, can secure a place in the playoffs with a win over Baltimore and defeats for the Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. The Ravens (6-4) try to avoid their first loss in three games with Lamar Jackson as their starting quarterback.