Titans vs. Steelers game: Why it was postponed by the NFL
It happened in the MLB, so it was almost certain to happen in the NFL. Four weeks into the NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers & Tennessee Titans game has been postponed due to a spike in positive COVID-19 cases in the Titans organization.
This is not the first time the NFL had to postpone a game spur of the moment. They postponed a 2017 game due to Hurricane Irma, but the two teams had the same bye week – Pittsburg & Tennessee do not.
The first positive case
Ahead of their Sunday matchup in Minnesota, the Titans received word that linebackers coach Shane Bowe received a positive test and did not make the trip on Sept. 26th. We still don’t know if Bowe was the cause of Tennessee’s outbreak, but no players or personnel tested positive before Sunday’s game.
As part of the agreed-upon policy, no one was tested on Sunday. There have been no statements as to why, but it’s speculated it has to do with the timing of results. The next test was performed on Monday, and nine people tested positive: four players & five personnel. The Vikings were tested, but none returned a positive test.
Postponing the game
On Wednesday, the NFL decided to postpone the Titans-Steelers game with no official date announced. The league was considering all possible dates to move the game. Initially, ESPN reported it could have been on Monday or Tuesday. The NFL has a committee of unaffiliated former officials to decide when to postpone games – the primary factor determining the date is fairness.
On Thursday, the league announced it was canceling the week four game and moving it to the Titan’s week seven bye. The Steelers’ game against the Baltimore Ravens will be pushed back a week during the two team’s bye week to make this work. The announcement came after an additional player & personnel member tested positive for COVID-19.
What happens the rest of the season?
Obviously, this is a blow for both teams because they will have to play thirteen consecutive games. Since 2012, only 2017 & 2020 have had no teams on a bye week. It’s not unprecedented for a team to have a week four bye and make it to the Super Bowl – the San Francisco 49ers did it last year.
Both teams were shocked by the NFL’s decision to move the game but weren’t surprised. In a news conference, Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel explained, “[the Titans] wanted to play; they were preparing to play. But I think that they understood and realized why the decision was made.”
In his press conference, Steelers’ head coach Mike Tomlin added, “We’ve worked extremely hard at the beginning portion of this week in preparation for what we thought was an opportunity versus an undefeated team in their venue.”
The Steelers have the Philadelphia Eagles at home next week. Since the cancelation is due to Tennessee, the Steelers will play in week five. Attention will move to the Titans week five game at home against the Buffalo Bills. As of right now, the game has not been touched. But if cases continue to rise and the team’s facility remains closed, another postponement is on the horizon.