Advertisement

Ravens fans may say nevermore to another prime-time game in Pittsburgh, but players, coaches don’t seem to mind

If the Ravens are playing at the Pittsburgh Steelers, it must be a prime-time game.

For the fifth consecutive year and ninth time in the last 12, the annual tilt between the AFC North arch rivals at Heinz Field will unfold before a national television audience. The streak began with back-to-back appearances on ESPN in 2007 and 2008, included a Thursday night game on CBS in 2015, and became a fixture on NBC, which will broadcast Sunday night’s game.

Advertisement

If the number of night games in Pittsburgh is a thorn in the Ravens’ side, they’re not saying.

“No, I don’t think about it at all,” coach John Harbaugh said. “Never give it a thought. Can’t do anything about it. They don’t ask my opinion on it. Never one time have they asked me what I think they should do with the scheduling, so why think about it, right?”

Sunday’s game will mark only their second prime-time meeting in September and first since 2008. Six of the games have occurred after Nov. 1, and the last two have taken place in December.

Quarterback Joe Flacco quipped that he has played in the afternoon at Heinz Field only “once or twice,” but the actual number is three. But he seems to enjoy the challenge of playing before a hostile crowd.

“It’s just a lot of fun,” he said. “You know, you can smell the grass, and I feel like it’s usually cold. It’s probably not going to be cold this week, so it’ll be a little bit different in that respect, but the fans, they love football. They love to get on all their opponents. We’ve had a lot of tight games up there, some that we’ve won, some that we’ve lost, but it’s a lot of fun to go into those environments with your teammates and have a good game. That’s what we expect to do.”

Flacco’s counterpart, Ben Roethlisberger, reasoned that the series’ ferocity and intensity makes the games must-see viewing for football fans.

“It just feels like it’s always this way,” he said. “It feels like it’s always [a] prime-time game. It’s kind of what the fans want to see. It’s what the NFL wants to see. This game is always something special, so it kind of is par for the course, if you will.

Over the last 11 years, the Ravens have played host to the Steelers at M&T Bank Stadium at night only four times. Harbaugh acknowledged that Ravens fans might appreciate a little more balance in the prime-time scheduling between the two sides.

“I think it’d be great for our fans,” he said. “Our fans would sure appreciate it. So would our players. But that’s not our concern. I mean, really, right now, it’s the last thing to think about it. Really could care less. We can’t wait to go there and play. We like playing there. It’s not like we’re afraid to go up there and play in prime time. So we’re excited about it, and we’re looking forward to it.”

Advertisement
Advertisement