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Tomlin Takes

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'Tomlin's Takes' on short week, holiday game and more

Facing the challenge: The Steelers have a challenging week ahead of them, not just facing an AFC North rival in the Baltimore Ravens who are desperately searching for a win but having to do so on a short week. 

Coach Mike Tomlin has dealt with preparing his team on short weeks before but said it's different every time based on the group you are dealing with because health can always be an issue. Tomlin mentioned in his press conference the health of Joe Haden and JuJu Smith-Schuster, both who were banged up against the Jaguars, and that their participation during the week will determine their availability.

"I think every group is different," said Tomlin. "By that, I mean specifically, the overall health of your group as you go into the week and where it is on your calendar are probably the two most significant variables in terms of determining what the week looks like. I have been at the job long enough where I have a pretty good feel of where it needs to go, but those are two critical components that you hold those cards and you weigh the significance of those things specific to the group."

Home for the holiday: The Steelers are no stranger to playing on holidays, having done so on Thanksgiving and Christmas in the past years. This is the ninth time the Steelers will play on Thanksgiving, the first time at home, and have a 2-6 record overall, 1-1 under Tomlin.

Tomlin knows what it means to play on a night like Thanksgiving, a special holiday where all eyes will be on one game during a time when many need a lift.

"It is an honor for us to entertain our fans and fans in general on Thursday Night Football and on Thanksgiving. That's not something that we take for granted. As a young guy who loved football, man I grew up watching football on the holidays, and it's an honor and it's humbling to provide that for others and to be associated with that and the memories it creates.

"There's scarcity in these opportunities. When the schedule comes out, I view it as such and treat it as such. When you get an opportunity to play on primetime, that means something in our league. When you get an opportunity to be featured on a holiday game, that's special.

"It is an honor and a privilege to be able to entertain our fans in that way. It has been a challenging year. I hope in some small way for a few hours that we can provide the type of entertainment that allows them to forget about it to a degree and do so with loved ones and in a festive atmosphere. I think that's something we all can agree to and appreciate."

Desperate to win: The Steelers go into Thursday night's game with a 10-0 record and first place in the AFC North, while the Ravens, who announced on Monday they closed their facility after multiple members of the organization tested positive for COVID-19, have dropped to 6-4 and third place in the AFC North after an overtime loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Tomlin was asked how you handle a team coming in that is desperate for a win, and he made it simple.

"We are desperate too," said Tomlin. "We are all desperate to win this week. I imagine they view us in the same way, or I would imagine it would behoove them to do so. That is our attitude each and every week. We respect everyone and the level of desperation and urgency everyone has as we step into the stadium ready to match it."

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