The creators of the NFL schedule weigh a number of factors when crafting the upcoming slate of games, including impact players changing teams and anniversaries of historical significance, and both of those elements played a factor in the league deciding to have the Pittsburgh Steelers visit the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football in Week 7.
In a conference call elaborating on the creation of the schedule Friday, NFL vice presidents Onnie Bose and Mike North mentioned that not only have the Dolphins played their way into prime time in recent years, but that their trade for star wide receiver Tyreek Hill this offseason made a Sunday Night Football matchup against a cornerstone franchise like the Steelers even more enticing.
“I’m not sure Pittsburgh-Miami was heading for NBC, for Sunday Night Football,” North said. “But when Tyreek Hill signed, a team that’s been very good for a couple years, I think they were nine wins last year, ten wins the year before. Miami’s played their way into prime time. Now with Tyreek Hill, one of the most exciting players in the league.”
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In addition, this also marks the 50th anniversary of the Dolphins 1972 undefeated season as well. Miami defeated Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship game to advance to the Super Bowl that year as well, which also played a role in pairing the teams in prime time.
“So here’s an opportunity for a Steelers-Dolphins game in prime time, in October, where we’ll make a big deal out of it. The Dolphins will make a big deal about it,” North added. “I’m sure we’ll see Larry Csonka and all the guys in the stadium that night. And that’s a game that we probably only felt better about once the Dolphins went out and made the move for Tyreek.”
Pittsburgh battles Miami at Hard Rock Stadium on Oct. 23. The game will be nationally televised on NBC. The Steelers have five prime time games in total slated for the 2022 campaign.