TRAVEL PLANS

Steelers make highly unusual change to travel plans heading into Week 14 Sunday night showdown with Bills

TRAVEL PLANS

The Steelers have had to deal with a lot of changes this season, and this week, they’ll be dealing with at least one more. For the team’s Sunday night game in Buffalo, the team has made the highly unusual decision to fly on the day of the game.

Normally, a team will leave on Saturday before playing in a Sunday game, but for Week 14, the Steelers decided it would make more sense to leave Sunday morning for their Sunday night game in Buffalo, which is scheduled to kick off at 8:15 p.m. ET on NBC.

According to team spokesman Burt Lauten, who confirmed the travel switch to ESPN.com, the Steelers decided they wanted one more day in Pittsburgh after dealing with two weeks of scheduling chaos.

“Due to a number of schedule adjustments which resulted in the Steelers playing on a short week two weeks in a row, we requested and were approved by the league office to travel on game day to Buffalo for our Sunday night game,” Lauten said in a statement, via ESPN.com. “Our preparations and meetings will be conducted in Pittsburgh Saturday evening, and the team will then fly to Buffalo on Sunday morning and continue day-of-game preparations upon arrival in Buffalo.”

The Steelers’ 44-minute flight to Buffalo ended up leaving just after 9:30 a.m. ET on Sunday.

The scheduling adjustments that Lauten was referring to came over the past two weeks. In Week 12, the Steelers were forced to play on a Wednesday against the Ravens, which was six days after their game was originally supposed to be played. The postponement of the Baltimore game also forced the Steelers’ Week 13 games against Washington to be moved from Sunday to Monday.

Although the pandemic has forced the NFL and its teams to make multiple scheduling changes this year, this game will mark just the third time that a visiting team has traveled on the same day its scheduled to play. The Patriots did it in Week 4 before a game in Kansas City and the Ravens did it in Week 12 before a game against the Steelers. Both teams ended up losing.

In those two instances, the Patriots and Ravens were waiting on the results of COVID tests to come through, which pushed back their traveling plans. The Steelers case is slightly different, because Pittsburgh made the decision on its own to postpone the team flight from Saturday to Sunday.

For the Steelers, the rare decision to fly on the day of the game marks the first time since 2012 that they’ve done this. Eight years ago, the Steelers flew to New York on a Sunday morning and then beat the Giants 24-20 later that day. In that case, the Steelers were forced to fly the same day due to Hurricane Sandy.

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