Ravens back from bye week with eyes toward Steelers originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Ravens tight end Mark Andrews was able to enjoy his bye week as best he could — by stepping away from football entirely for a few days.
He went fishing with Ben Powers and Orlando Brown Jr. and did his best to step away from the pressures of the NFL game for a week. In terms of taking a break, both physically and mentally, a bye after six games of the season offered a nice break for the Ravens.
But the looming threat of Week 8 wasn’t far.
With the Ravens off Sunday, they were able to watch the Steelers beat the previously unbeaten Titans in Tennessee. The win meant the Steelers are the only undefeated team in the NFL headed to their matchup against the Ravens on Sunday in Baltimore.
“They’re a team that’s hitting on all cylinders, they don’t make many mistakes,” Andrews said. “We got a tough game. We all got to be on our A-game, so this is going to be a good test for us to see where we’re at. I know all the guys are excited for this one. This is something we’ve had circled on our calendar for a while.”
Unlike previous bye weeks, the Ravens weren’t able to travel out of town as they still had to submit to regular COVID-19 testing during the week.
But even without a mid-season vacation, the Ravens took some needed time off — even if that time off meant being a football fan on Sunday.
“I’m such a football fan I don’t have to get too far away,” defensive lineman Calais Campbell said. “I sit back and watch movies and stuff and let my mind wander. I watched a lot of tape on myself and studied myself and stuff like that. Trying to look forward a little bit.”
Looking forward wasn’t hard, considering the Ravens were all in town and their next opponent just happens to be their biggest rival. With a COVID-19 outbreak in Tennessee, the schedule was rearranged and the Ravens bye week was moved a week forward. Now, they’ll have two weeks to prepare for the Steelers instead of one.
“I’m a football fan, I’ve been watching football all my life and playing it long enough to know that there’s no bigger rivalry in professional sports, in my opinion, than this matchup,” Campbell said. “And I’m happy to finally be in it.”
Last year, the Ravens beat the Steelers in Pittsburgh in Week 5 to kick off their 12 game winning streak. The Steelers started Mason Rudolph, who was concussed during the game after a hit by Earl Thomas, and ended with Devlin “Duck” Hodges as the starter.
Week 17 was a dud, as the Ravens had everything locked up and beat the Steelers with their backups in a rainy season finale.
Now, Ben Roethlisberger is back at quarterback to lead the unbeaten Steelers into Baltimore.
“This is the best I’ve seen him,” Campbell said. “He’s always been great, but he’s locked in. He’s getting rid of the ball fast, making great reads, getting the ball to his playmakers. You’ve got to love what you see on tape. He’s a great player, Hall of Fame worthy. He’s a lot better player overall, he’s always been great, but they’re rolling. I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
The two rivals will now face each other twice from Nov. 1 through Thanksgiving night on Nov. 26. And as the standings begin to shake out, it could go a long way to deciding the AFC North.
“I think when you have a rivalry game like this, this is one of the best in football,” Andrews said. “There’s nothing better. We know the type of game it’s going to be. It’s going to be a dogfight. They’re going to be ready to go, we’re going to be ready to go. This is what you live for right here.”