The NFL announced Wednesday that the Thanksgiving night game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers has been moved to Sunday afternoon.
The decision came as the spread of COVID-19 among the Ravens intensified and the Steelers reacted angrily from players.
Baltimore adds three more players – offensive linemen Patrick McCarthy And Matt Skura And defensive end Kalis Campbell – Wednesday to the Reserve / COVID-19 list, according to a source. The Ravens now have seven players who have been positively tested or identified as close acquaintances.
The NFL decided to postpone the game because it wanted to use the remaining weeks to conduct more tests and contact tracing, a source told ESPN’s Dan Graziano. The announcement came 31 hours before the scheduled kickoff.
“The decision was made with the utmost care to ensure the health and safety of the players, coaches and Game Day staff and in consultation with medical professionals,” the NFL said in a statement.
The outbreak was widespread in Baltimore, where Ravens coaching staff and support staff also tested positive.
“We appreciate the efforts of the NFL to work with us to ensure the well-being of players, coaches and staff from the Baltimore Ravens and the Pittsburgh Steelers,” Ravens said in a statement.
This is the second time that the Steelers’ schedule has been affected by COVID-19. Their Week 4 game against the Tennessee Titans has moved to the 7th week due to an outbreak at the Titans. The Steelers’ first scheduled buy from Week 7 was moved to Week 8 after the first Ravens match, and the Week 4 postponement became Pittsburgh’s actual buy week.
This time, the Steelers will miss their mini-bye week as the Thanksgiving game moves to Sunday.
Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster Within minutes of the announcement on Wednesday, he tweeted expressing his frustration.
First the NFL removes our bye week because another team can’t get their Kovid situation together, now they remove our Thanksgiving primetime game for the same reason. Smh.
– Juju Smith-shaster (eTeamJuJu) November 25, 2020
Sources told Prior that the Steelers will have a players’ holiday after practice on Wednesday. Coach Mike Tomlin wanted to leave his players until next Wednesday after the Thanksgiving game, but those plans changed.
This marks the 13th game this season has been postponed or moved due to coronavirus related issues, although this is the first postponement from the 5th week. Three weeks ago, the San Francisco 49ers played against the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, despite keeping four of them on the Reserve / COVID-19 list.
Earlier on Wednesday, some Ravens players expressed concern about playing.
This is the first time since 2005 that the NFL has played just two games at Thanksgiving.
The Ravens began to spread a few hours after losing to the Tennessee Titans 30-24 overtime on Sunday, with JK Dobbins and Mark Ingram testing positive as the team learned the running backs. Nose tackle Brandon Williams Later identified as a high-risk intimate relationship.
On Monday, Baltimore closed its facility in the morning before reopening in the afternoon, when the team conducted a walk-through. A day later, the Ravens closed the facility again after more positive tests and virtually managed all team activities. Outside linebacker Pernell McAfee became the fourth Baltimore player to be included in the Reserve / COVID-19 list in two days.
Postponing Baltimore’s Thanksgiving game to Sunday means a quick change. The Ravens will host the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday, December 3rd. The Cowboys will have a full week to recover after playing at Thanksgiving, and Baltimore will play with a three-day break.
The Ravens could have entered that game slightly. Players who test positive must be detained for at least 10 days.
The Steelers, who are 10-0 for the first time in franchise history, can secure a playoff berth with a win over Baltimore and a defeat to the Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders. The Ravens (6-4) are looking to avoid their first three games of defeat Lamar Jackson As their initial quarterback.