"Obviously, we all have to be on our 'A' game, said Mark Andrews when asked about facing the Steelers. "So, this is going to be a good test for us."
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews' bye week was fairly uneventful.
After the team held practice last Tuesday and Wednesday and gave players the rest of the week off, Andrews went on a fishing trip Thursday with fellow Oklahoma alums Orlando Brown Jr. and Ben Powers. Andrews “chilled and relaxed” the rest of the week, with daily COVID-19 tests sandwiched between each day.
And on Sunday, like many Ravens fans, Andrews tuned in to see the team’s next opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, take on the Tennessee Titans.
“We’ve got a tough game. Obviously, we’ve got all got to be on our ‘A’ game,” Andrews said Monday on a video conference call. “This is going to be a good test for us to see where we’re at. I know all the guys are excited for this one. This is something we’ve had circled on our calendar for a while.”
Andrews on Sunday watched the Steelers beat the Titans, 27-24, to move to 6-0, and after the slate of weekend games, remain the league’s sole unbeaten team. It’s the Steelers' best start since 1978 and has been marked by the return of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who has turned an 8-8 team from the 2019 season back into a Super Bowl contender.
“They’re a very talented group. They’re a team that’s kind of hitting on all cylinders, they don’t make many mistakes,” Andrews said.
While the majority of his career has been spent in Arizona and Jacksonville, where he didn’t have the same biannual run-ins as the Ravens, defensive end Calais Campbell has played in memorable games against the Steelers. In his second year in the NFL, Campbell and the Cardinals faced Pittsburgh in Super Bowl XLIII, losing 27-23 after a late Santonio Holmes touchdown.
Campbell again matched up with the Steelers in the 2017 AFC divisional round as a member of the Jaguars, this time coming away with a 45-42 win before losing to the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.
As a still fairly new member of the Ravens, Campbell said he’s heard from players such as Matthew Judon, Pernell McPhee and Brandon Williams about the importance of the AFC North rivalry.
“I’m a football fan, I’ve been watching football all my life,” Campbell said, “and playing it long enough to know that there’s no bigger rivalry in professional sports, in my opinion, than this matchup. And as a football fan, I’ve watched it from afar for plenty of years and I’m happy to finally be in it.”
With the teams' first matchup being shifted back one week because of COVID-19 schedule adjustments, and the Steelers' maintaining an unblemished record, the Nov. 1 meeting at M&T Bank Stadium sets up to be the most pivotal in almost two years.
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The Ravens swept last year’s series, and have won three of the past four, but whoever wins this Week 8 matchup will have the division lead heading into the second half of the season in a highly competitive AFC North.
“Every week is big, every week is important, they all really matter but this is the Steelers,” coach John Harbaugh said. “We’ve never shied away from saying that it’s our rivalry game, on our side of it we’ve always considered it to be that. We have a lot of respect for them and we know what kind of game we’re in for. We understand what type of a game this is and we’re looking forward to it.”