2-Hour Storm Delay Impacts 'Crazy' Game


The Ravens opened Sunday's game against the Chicago Bears on a roll.

Joe Flacco and Ray Rice guided the offense on scoring drives on their first two possessions to take a 10-0 lead, and the defense forced Chicago to punt on their first two drives.

Then the storm came.

Heavy rain, strong winds and lightning arrived in Chicago midway through the first quarter, putting the game into a suspension starting at 1:32 p.m. The delay lasted 1 hour, 53 minutes, as officials cleared the entire seating bowl and both teams went into the locker room for shelter. The Bears went on to win 23-20 in overtime.

"The delay always stops something," Rice said. "When you've got momentum and your juices are flowing, you want to keep going, especially from my standpoint as a running back. I rip off a 47-yard run and the next thing you know, it's midway through the first quarter and we're talking about a delay. I was ready to roll."

The Ravens passed the time during the delay by relaxing in the locker room and grabbing a bite to eat from the catered food that was initially planned as a post-game meal. Coaches and players talked over strategy for when the game resumed and how the wet field would impact the game.

"It was just something that we had to deal with," Flacco said. "The biggest thing was just to get something in your stomach because you knew you weren't going to be able to do that for a while."

When the action resumed after the delay, the Bears quickly got back in the game with a pair of scores. Chicago drove down the field and cut the score to 10-3 on a 20-yard field goal by Robbie Gould. Then on the next play from scrimmage, Flacco threw the ball right into the hands of defensive end David Bass, who picked off the pass and returned it 22 yards for a touchdown to make the score 10-10. 

The biggest difference after the delay was that the field was in terrible shape. The Bears have a natural grass surface, which was a mud pit soon after play resumed. There was standing water in some spots on the field and the mud cut down on traction and mobility.

Wind was also a problem, as it was consistently blowing at more than 20 miles per hour throughout the second half, with gusts up to 45 miles per hour. That wind affected* *play calling and strategy, and also created issues for both quarterbacks.

"The wind was pretty crazy, but the bigger issue was the fact that with the ball, every time you got it was wet or it had all kinds of mud on it," Flacco said. "It was just an issue with some of the timing stuff, where we couldn't get a grip on in quick enough."

Players from both sides were covered head to toe in mud after the game, the muddy field created some problems for the center-quarterback exchange. Center Gino Gradkowski had a couple of errant snaps, including one on a critical third-down play from the 3-yard line at the end of regulation.

"The ball got stuck in a little hole there, but that's no excuse," Gradkowski said. "We have to overcome all of that stuff."

Delays are nothing new for the Ravens, as this is the third game they have had a suspension in their last 11 matchups.  The season opener in Denver was also delayed because of storms and the Super Bowl was suspended because of the blackout.

Head Coach John Harbaugh said after the loss that the Ravens "probably lead the league in delays."

The Ravens are now 1-2 in games that have been delayed. They came out of the Super Bowl blackout flat, before ultimately winning that game, and lost the season opener against Denver after the weather delay. 

Terrell Suggs and Ray Lewis both said they believed NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell may have had a hand in the power outage and suspension in the Super Bowl, and Ravens President Dick Cass joked before the game that this was out of the commissioner's hands.

"The commissioner was blamed of course for the blackout in New Orleans," he said in an interview with CBS. "There's no grumbling about the commissioner this time. I think everyone realizes he couldn't control the weather."

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