Ravens vs. Steelers Thanksgiving Game Moved to Sunday Because of COVID-19

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistNovember 25, 2020

Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, front left, fumbles the ball while being hit by Pittsburgh Steelers free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick (39) and inside linebacker Vince Williams (98) during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, in Baltimore. The Steelers won 28-24. Steelers linebacker Robert Spillane (41) recovered the fumble. (AP Photo/Gail Burton)
Gail Burton/Associated Press

The Thanksgiving Day matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers has been rescheduled for 1:15 p.m. ET Sunday and will be broadcast nationally on NBC.

ESPN's Dianna Russini and NFL Network's Ian Rapoport first reported the postponement.

The Ravens later announced a staff member has been disciplined for "conduct surrounding the recent COVID-19 cases" the team has experienced. 

Also of note, a Pennsylvania state order that goes into effect on Friday will prevent fans from attending the rescheduled matchup at Heinz Field on Sunday:

Pittsburgh Steelers @steelers

Statement from #Steelers Spokesman Burt Lauten: https://t.co/6javm4NG1G

Four Ravens—Mark Ingram II, J.K. Dobbins, Brandon Williams and Pernell McPhee—have been placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list, and a number of other staff members have tested positive.

Calais Campbell, Matt Skura and Patrick Mekari were also placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list on Wednesday.

Multiple Steelers players expressed their frustration with the postponement on Twitter (warning: contains profanity):

JuJu Smith-Schuster @TeamJuJu

First the NFL takes away our bye week because another team can’t get their Covid situation together, now they take away our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.

Chase Claypool @ChaseClaypool

What a joke....

Eric Ebron @Ebron85

i’m not gone lie @NFL THIS IS BULLSHIT...

Devlin Hodges @DevlinHodges10

Maaaaaannnnnnnnnn that’s some BS

The Ravens provided a statement on the postponement:

Baltimore Ravens @Ravens

Statement from the Baltimore Ravens: https://t.co/2gLHTK38MX

Frustration among the Steelers players isn't surprising. They already had their bye week moved to Week 4 after a coronavirus outbreak within the Tennessee Titans organization forced the game between the teams to be pushed back to Week 7. That essentially cost them a bye week, since they had been preparing as though they would play the Titans in Week 4.

Now, they are losing a prime-time Thanksgiving game and the mini-bye that would have followed it.

Brooke Pryor @bepryor

Easy to understand frustrations among Steelers players. First, their bye week gets changed late in the week because of the outbreak with the Titans. Now, their mini-bye gets taken away because of Ravens' outbreak. But, as Mike Tomlin said then: "We do not care."

On the other hand, the NFL is going to do everything in its power to avoid canceling a rivalry matchup between two teams that generally dislike each other and are two of the better teams in the league. The Steelers (10-0) and the Ravens (6-4) almost always offer a highlight for the NFL calendar and deliver a potential postseason preview.

Still, the NFL didn't leave much wiggle room to make adjustments to the schedule in a season during the COVID-19 pandemic. Trying to hold a full 16-game schedule with just one bye week per team meant the NFL wouldn't be able to postpone games toward the end of the season or that games would have to be canceled.

It's fair, then, to question whether a shortened slate would have provided a better alternative.