Connect with us

Steelers News

Steelers Prepping for Winter Storm in Buffalo



Steelers T.J. Watt
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.j. Watt warms up before a game against the Buffalo Bills on Dec. 15, 2020. -- Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

PITTSBURGH — The forecast for Sunday’s Pittsburgh Steelers Wild Card playoff game against the Buffalo Bills is looking like it could be the second game in row where Mother Nature takes center stage.

WGRZ-TV in Buffalo is predicting a high temperature of 26 degrees on Sunday, with 14 mph winds and snow showers in the mix, as well. The Steelers just came off a bad winter-weather game, defeating the Baltimore Ravens 17-10 in a freezing monsoon in Baltimore last week.

Though it will be colder and windier in Buffalo, with less rain, the Steelers are doing many of the same things to prepare for this contest. They practiced outside in the conditions on Wednesday, which included some sleet pelting the Steelers players as they got ready for their first practice of the week.

“Just like last week, there were things that we adjusted,” quarterback Mason Rudolph said. “It’s good to get work like we did today. Weren’t great conditions either, so you try to prepare yourselves, but we know it’ll be tough weather conditions, but I think that’s one of the many pluses of playing in Pittsburgh as we start to get a dose of that in October. So, we know it’s quite a tough place to play and I’ve been up there a few times over the last few years.”

The wind can be especially bad at Highmark Stadium in Orchard Park, because much of the stadium is set below ground level and doesn’t provide for a wind break. A December 2021 game in Buffalo saw the Bills beat the Patriots, 14-10 while attempting only three passes. That game saw wind gusts up to 50 mph.

This week, the Steelers had an additional asset at their disposal, and they took advantage of it. With the Steelers earning the No. 7 seed in the AFC playoffs over the week, they were eliminated from hosting a playoff game for the rest of the season.

That opened up the possibility of the Steelers using the bigger, nicer and less-beat-up playing surface at Acrisure Stadium.

“Wanted to get over to the stadium because we wanted to work in the elements,” head coach Mike Tomlin said. “Wanted the outside conditions and the stadium was available to us. And so, had a good workday.”

The Bills have artificial turf at Highmark Stadium, but the Steelers generally prefer not to practice on turf unless its absolutely necessary that they practice indoors. With this week’s game going to played in some nasty conditions, he wanted to be outside in the slop all week.

“It was all about surface,” he said. “There’s heating underneath that stadium surface. And so, it was game like. … The footing. The stadium surfaces are more game like surface than our practice fields.”

Despite taking the step of bussing his team across town for practice, Tomlin said that he’s not concerned about the conditions benefitting one team or the other.

“As long as the conditions are the same for both teams, I’m not overly concerned about it,” he said.