Steelers will be without Pouncey vs. Ravens, but game will be played

Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey (53). Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without their starting center against the Ravens, but at least the game will finally be played.

Steelers fans are no doubt anxious to get this game over with. Week 12 has been a nightmare to both Pittsburgh and Baltimore, but it’s Mike Tomlin’s team that has been punished the most in the process. Fortunately, after the game has been postponed three separate times, we have confirmation that this contest will kick off at 3:40 PM ET today, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

This is obviously terrific news, and the Steelers will no doubt want revenge on the Ravens after some of the things they pulled this week. While positive COVID-19 tests can’t be avoided entirely, the fact that Baltimore broke protocol is particularly annoying. Players threatened to protest if the game would have been played yesterday, so Roger Goodell and the NFL caved to their demands.

It initially looked as if lobbying for this extra day would have afforded the opportunity for running backs J.K. Dobbins and Mark Ingram to rejoin the team, but in the most recent update, it doesn’t appear either player will be suiting up to take the field this afternoon. At the very least, Baltimore was given an extra day of practice to prepare to take on the Steelers.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey lands on Reserve/COVID-19 list

Just this afternoon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported that Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has landed on the Reserve/COVID-19 list and that he will not be able to play this week. This is one more reason for fans to be upset with the way this whole situation has played out. While we have plenty of reason to be mad, don’t think that a player like Pouncey is going to make the difference in this game.

Though Pouncey still remains a fan favorite, he really has not played at a high level over the past two seasons. Last year, the former two-time All-Pro graded out among the worst centers in the National Football League, according to Pro Football Focus. While he has rebounded slightly, he remains the 30th ranked center in terms of his overall grade this year. Considering that there are only 32 teams, this isn’t a place we want to find him.

Where Pouncey’s absence could show up is if backup center, JC Hassenauer, has a few bad snaps – particularly if he has one that results in a fumble. But don’t be surprised if the drop-off in play is barely noticeable – especially with nose tackle Brandon Williams ruled out in this contest.

The reality of the situation is that the Steelers are healthy and angrier than Baltimore at the moment. While a few players like Cameron Heyward didn’t complain about having an extended break after the game was supposed to be played on Thanksgiving, Pittsburgh knows they will now have to play 3 games over the next 12 days – the third of which is an all-important road matchup against the Buffalo Bills.

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The Steelers know what is on the line here, and getting the chance to potentially put Baltimore out of the playoff race is all the motivation they need. I expect a Pittsburgh win this afternoon.