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Late for Work 11/26: Steelers Players Upset With NFL's Decision to Postpone Game

Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
Steelers WR JuJu Smith-Schuster

Several Steelers Upset With Decision to Postpone Tonight's Game

A bunch of Steelers players took to social media to express their unhappiness with the NFL's decision to move the game against visiting Baltimore originally scheduled for tonight to Sunday afternoon because of a COVID-19 outbreak on the Ravens.

There are others omitted for profanity reasons. At least one Pittsburgh player took the postponement in stride.

It's not like Ravens players were overjoyed either.

It's frustrating for all involved, but with three Ravens players being placed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list yesterday, in addition to the four already on it, the league felt postponing the game was the right thing to do to ensure the safety of both teams' players and coaches. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reportedly made the final call.

Any player that tested positive for COVID-19 and would not have been able to play tonight will still not be able to play Sunday, so it's not like the Ravens got a personnel advantage by moving the game back. The change allowed the Ravens and the league to ensure that the spread wouldn't grow worse.

The situation remains fluid, but NFL Chief Medical Officer Dr. Allen Sills said he feels the Ravens are close to the end of the transmission period. Sills said the league did a "very, very deep dive into the situation" that included genomic epidemiology, meaning they looked at the exact genome of the virus samples from all the infected individuals.

"We feel like we have a really good handle on exactly when transmission occurred and how it occurred," Sills told Judy Battista of NFL Media yesterday. "I think we feel like we're just a couple of days away from being out of that window of vulnerability for that transmission event.

"So obviously you have to take each day as it comes and look for any new data that may emerge, but right now we simply feel like that as of tomorrow we would not have confidence in going forward, but I think we feel we're very close to the end of that transmission event. At present, we're targeting Sunday absent any new information that would change the facts we have right now."

The Ravens are still scheduled to host the Dallas Cowboys on next Thursday, which will mean a short week following the Steelers game.

The Steelers have gotten the short end of the stick this season when it comes to COVID-19. Earlier this year, their game against the Tennessee Titans was postponed because of a Titans outbreak. It was moved to the Steelers' bye week, meaning they didn't get a traditional bye this year. The ripple effect also meant the Ravens' bye was moved a week earlier, giving Baltimore an extra week to rest and prepare for its first game against Pittsburgh on Nov. 1.

This week's postponement means the Steelers will no longer have a mini-bye following an originally scheduled Thanksgiving game.

Thankful for Life Lessons Mo Gaba Taught Us

A day of giving thanks is the perfect time to show appreciation for the life lessons young Ravens and Orioles superfan Mo Gaba taught us.

ESPN’s Sam Borden wrote about Gaba, the inspirational 14-year-old who died in July after a lengthy battle with cancer, and the valuable things we learned from him. Here are some excerpts:

Just find a way

Gaba lost his sight as a baby due to a tumor in his retina, but when he grew older and became a sports fan, he worked out a system with his mother, Sonsy, that allows him to enjoy the games he cannot see.

"On Ravens game days, Mo snuggles close to Sonsy on the couch, and she narrates the game into his ear," Borden wrote.

Everyone gets nervous sometimes

Gaba became the first person to announce an NFL draft pick in Braille in 2019 when he revealed the Ravens' fifth-round selection of offensive lineman Ben Powers from the team's festival at the Inner Harbor.

In the days leading to the big moment, Gaba had anxiety because he was afraid he'd make a mistake and let everyone down. Sonsy told him that everyone gets nervous sometimes and he should be confident.

Gaba made the announcement perfectly.

"In the Ravens' draft room, Baltimore GM Eric DeCosta dabs his eyes as he watches Mo announce his pick on TV," Borden wrote. "Off to the side of the stage, Sonsy stands with her brother and watches her son rip right through his fears and nail it."

Giving is better

A few months after the draft, Gaba attended a Ravens practice and met Powers, who hugged Gaba and told him he nailed the announcement. Later that day, as Gaba was surrounded by the team, he had a surprise for the rookie.

"In front of everyone, Mo takes out the index card from draft day. It is a historic card, a card you'd think Mo might want to keep forever," Borden wrote. "But Mo turns to Powers. He runs his fingers over the raised dots just one more time. Then he says, 'This is the card that had your name on it from the draft ... and so I'm giving it to you.'

"He thrusts the card into Powers' chest. Powers smiles and grabs Mo in another hug. The players crowd in and all put their hands in like they do at the end of every practice. Mo feels himself surrounded. Then he puts his arm above his head, his tiny hand pushing right into the middle."

Be unforgettable

A few days before the Ravens' 2020 season opener at M&T Bank Stadium, the team announced that a section of seats called Mo's Rows will feature nearly 600 life-size cutouts of Gaba, and "MO" will be painted in gold letters in the BaltiMOre end zone. Sonsy painted the letters herself.

"How can you measure what a little boy means to a team? To a city? To anyone who ever met him or heard about him or listened to him on the radio? My boy? Sonsy thinks. Mine?" Borden wrote. "Sometimes Sonsy can't believe this many people cared about Mo or were inspired by him. Sometimes she can't believe he made such an impact.

"Only then she thinks about his voice. And his smile. And his laugh. And then Sonsy takes the bucket and bends down, painting her son's name out in gold."

Another Reason to Be Thankful: Extensions for Ronnie Stanley, Marlon Humphrey

The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec was asked to name something the Ravens' fan base should be thankful for today that wasn't apparent before the season began. He cited the Ravens signing left tackle Ronnie Stanley and cornerback Marlon Humphrey to extensions.

"There's been a lot of talk since the offseason about the Ravens' ability to keep so many core players who are nearing free agency," Zrebiec wrote. "The expected salary cap decline made the task even more daunting. General Manager Eric DeCosta still has plenty of work to do, but in the past couple of months, he's made sure two of the team's top players are staying put for the foreseeable future."

Zrebiec noted that by getting the deals with the two All-Pros done early, the team can turn its attention to pending free agents Matthew Judon and Yannick Ngakoue and 2022 free agents Orlando Brown Jr. and Mark Andrews.

"They'll have a decision to make on [Lamar] Jackson soon, too," Zrebiec wrote. "However, DeCosta is off to a good start."

Gus Edwards 'Has the Goods to Get It Done' Against Steelers

With running backs Mark Ingram II and J.K. Dobbins on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, Gus Edwards has an opportunity to be a major factor in the rivalry game.

The Ravens, who have lost three of their past four games and currently find themselves outside the playoff field, need a spark on offense, and Edwards "has the goods to get it done," analyst Maurice Jones-Drew wrote.

Edwards has fared well against the Steelers. The third-year running back rushed for a career-high 130 yards in a Week 17 win over Pittsburgh last season, and he ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries against the Steelers earlier this month.

"In order for the 'Gus Bus' to post new bests this Sunday, Baltimore needs to get its 6-foot-1, 238-pounder running downhill between the tackles with square shoulders early and often," Jones-Drew wrote. "Edwards' big frame and bruising rushing style have allowed him to rack up 66.7 percent of his rushing yards after contact— the highest percentage of any Ravens rusher this season, according to Pro Football Focus.

"If the Ravens feed the big back like they should with 25-to-30 carries, Edwards' production could catapult far past his current career single-game highs of 23 carries (Week 6, 2018) and 130 rush yards."

A pending restricted free agent, Edwards also has a chance Sunday to "solidify his place in the backfield and earn himself some well-deserved loot," Jones-Drew wrote.

Justice Hill, who has been playing on special teams and does not have a carry this season, also has an opportunity to make an impact in the backfield Sunday. The second-year running back had 49 all-purpose yards and a touchdown against the Steelers in Week 17 last season.

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