Wed, 27 Jan 2021

'Do what they tell you and go play ball'

The Steelers
29 Nov 2020, 05:30 GMT+10

Mike Prisuta

Everyone knows what to expect whenever the Steelers and Ravens get together.

What no one expected, coming into this week, was that the day and time that the two teams would next meet would change. Twice.

The NFL announced on Friday afternoon that the Steelers and Ravens will now face each other on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 8 p.m. at Heinz Field. The game will be broadcast nationally on NBC (WPXI in the Pittsburgh market).

The game was originally scheduled to be played on Thanksgiving. On Wednesday afternoon, the NFL first moved the game to Sunday after multiple members of the Ravens organization, including players, were placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 List.

Among those players are quarterback Lamar Jackson, defensive end Calais Campbell, as well as running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram II.

"This is just an unusual year when it comes to everything that we have to do and that everyone has to do," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger observed in advance of the news that the kickoff would be pushed back to Sunday. "We saw that early with the Titans game and byes and all these kind of things.

"What are you going to do? You just have to do what they tell you and go play ball."

As they say, the show must go on and tight end Eric Ebron, who experienced the rivalry earlier this season, understands what it means.

"We won, right?" Ebron offered, recalling the Steelers' 28-24 victory on Nov. 1 at Baltimore. "That's exactly what I expect, I'll just be honest with you.

"To me, it's a football game. To me, they're an opponent that doesn't wear Black and Gold, so they're just another opponent. To me, it is what it is.

"At the end of the day, y'all about to come into our house. And at the end of the day I don't like losing at home, personally, so they're just another opponent coming into our house that we've got to defend."

The Steelers lead the all-time regular-season series 26-23, and are 3-1 all-time against the Ravens in the playoffs.

Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is 14-14 against his opposite number, Coach Mike Tomlin, including the postseason.

Since 2008, 19 of the last 25 Steelers-Ravens games have been one-score affairs, including the Steelers' four-point win in November.

And 14 of those have been decided by three points or fewer.

That's five more such games than any other division rivalry over that time.

It is what it is, as Ebron maintained.

And there's nothing else quite like it.

The different dynamic this time is the teams are seemingly headed in different directions, not that anything of that nature has meant much from a historical perspective.

The Ravens have lost two in a row and three of four, including their loss to the Steelers at home.

The Steelers are the 17th team since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to begin a season 10-0. They lead second-place Cleveland (7-3) by three games and third-place Baltimore (6-4) by four games with six regular-season games remaining in the race for the AFC North Division championship.

But that said, Tomlin wasn't even willing to concede a desperation advantage to the visitors.

"We're desperate, too," Tomlin insisted. "We're all desperate to win this week. I'd imagine they view us in the same way, or I imagine it would behoove them to do so.

"That's our attitude each and every week. We respect everyone and respect the level of desperation that everyone has and the urgency that everyone has, and we step into the stadium ready to match it."

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