PITTSBURGH — In the week leading up to the Steelers’ crucial Week 5 home date against the Baltimore Ravens, a lot of the talk was about how the team would be able to re-ignite the downfield passing offense.
A lot of the conversation centered around getting the ball into the hands of star wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster more often. Sunday, the plan backfired on multiple fronts.
The offense sputtered in the first half, despite Smith-Schuster’s name being called on two of the first three plays. Mason Rudolph left the game early in the third quarter with a concussion.
Things looked bleak, but the Steelers rallied around third-stringer Devlin Hodges, and had a chance to escape with a win when Hodges hit Smith-Schuster in stride on a play that looked like it could go for a big gain and potentially get the Steelers into field goal range.
But Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey punched the ball out of Smith-Schuster’s hand as he turned up field and recovered the ball to give the Ravens perfect field position for a game-winning Justin Tucker field goal.
“I feel terrible, man,” Smith-Schuster said. “It’s literally the worst feeling ever knowing that the game is on the line overtime and you have the ball, knowing that Marlon Humphrey, that’s what he does. He made a great play in a great situation and he made a great play for his team.”
After Humphrey punched the ball free, it laid on the turf for several seconds as another Baltimore defender attempted to corral it while sliding out of bounds, before Humphrey regain his balance and picked it up.
“The ball was just laying there,” Smith-Schuster said.
The Steelers star receiver let the team down in overtime, after originally being a spark. His 35-yard touchdown in the first half gave the team some much needed momentum. But he knows that a lot of goodwill can be erased with a single crucial mistake.
Smith-Schuster made a similar gaffe against the New Orleans Saints, when he fumbled as the Steelers were driving late while trailing.
“I can’t turn it over.”
Report: Steelers QB Coach Matt Canada Tested Positive for COVID-19
Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report by Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network.
#Steelers QB coach Matt Canada has indeed tested #COVID positive, but I’m told by multiple sources that QB Ben Roethlisberger was not deemed a close contact who needs to self isolate. Roethlisberger already went thru this once after sitting on the plane next to a Covid+ teammate.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 29, 2020
The Steelers announced earlier on Saturday that Canada, along with special teams coordinator Danny Smith, will not coach in the team’s game against the Baltimore Ravens on Tuesday due to illnesses.
Kinkhabwala reported that Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is not considered a close contact of Canada’s and will not have to isolate for five days, as he did when tight end Vance McDonald tested positive earlier this season.
Smith has also tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report by Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
The Steelers announced that assistant wide receivers coach Blaine Stewart will replace Smith. They did not announce a replacement for Canada.
Matt Canada, Danny Smith Will Not Coach for Steelers vs. Ravens
Steelers special teams coordinator Danny Smith and quarterbacks coach Matt Canada will not participate in the team’s game Tuesday night against the Baltimore Ravens, the team announced on Saturday.
The Steelers said both coaches will not participate due to illness. Smith has tested positive for COVID-19, according to a report by the Post-Gazette.
Smith will be replaced by assistant wide receivers coach Blaine Stewart, the team announced. The club did not announced a direct replacement for Canada.
The team has not had any coaches miss any games this season due to COVID-19 issues.
Reports: Steelers RB James Conner, Coach Danny Smith Test Positive for COVID-19
Steelers running back James Conner and special teams coordinator Danny Smith have tested positive for COVID-19, according to reports by Adam Schefter of ESPN, Aditi Kinkhabwala of NFL Network and Gerry Dulac of the Post-Gazette.
Conner, the Steelers’ starting running back, is a cancer survivor. Smith, 67 is in his eighth season with the Steelers and 25th as an NFL coach.
James Conner is the #Steelers player who tested positive for #COVID, multiple sources tell me. He is awaiting a second test tomorrow to confirm these results. Contact tracing continues. And as w/ every positive case in the #NFL and country… here’s to recoveries and good health.
— Aditi Kinkhabwala (@AKinkhabwala) November 28, 2020
Steelers special teams coach Danny Smith tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, per sources
— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) November 28, 2020
The news comes on the heels of the team placing three players — defensive linemen Isaiah Buggs and Stephon Tuitt and tackle Jerald Hawkins — on the COVID-19 reserve list on Friday.
Tracing for close contacts is underway. Schefter reported that Conner has multiple close contacts that will have to be isolated from the team.
More positives in Pittsburgh: One coach and one player tested positive with multiple contacts in Pittsburgh, per sources.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) November 28, 2020
With the Steelers scheduled to play the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field on Tuesday, Conner, the three players placed on the COVID-19 list on Friday and all additional positive cases and close contacts will miss the game.
Conner will likely be replaced by second-year backup Benny Snell. Chris Wormley and Henry Mondeaux will fill in for Tuitt and Buggs on the defensive line, if available. Derwin Gray will be elevated to the top backup at tackle without Hawkins.
The Steelers did not practice on Friday and are not scheduled to practice on Saturday. They are scheduled to return to practice on Sunday.
The Steelers previously had guard Kevin Dotson on the COVID-19 reserve list, while tight end Vance McDonald came off the list this week after missing one game.