Once the severe weather subsided and the tornado watch was lifted after a two-hour delay to Sunday’s game at Soldier Field, the Ravens’ momentum evaporated.
The defending Super Bowl champions squandered a 10-0 lead in the first quarter after the game was suspended because of heavy rainstorms and lightning in the area and ended up losing 23-20 in overtime to the Bears.
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The Bears appeared to handle the sloppy field conditions better, but the Ravens made no excuses about how the game unfolded.
“It wasn't the ideal conditions, but it's football,” Ravens outside linebacker Elvis Dumervil said. “You have to adapt to the elements.”
Added middle linebacker Daryl Smith: “They had to take a break like we did.”
As a precautionary measure, stadium officials cleared the stands with fans exiting to the concourses in an orderly fashion. The teams returned to the field at 3:15 p.m. and the game restarted at 3:25 p.m. after a delay of 1 hour, 53 minutes.
However, the Ravens didn’t look like the same team after the delay. A second storm later delivered more rain and swirling winds after play had resumed.
“The delay always stops something. When you’ve got momentum and your juices are flowing, you want to keep going,” said running back Ray Rice, whose touchdown run, set up by a season-long 47-yard run, preceded the interruption. “From my standpoint, I run for a 47-yard run and then you’re talking about a delay. I mean, I’m ready to roll. Needless to say, I’m just glad I was able to get my feet back up under me with the field conditions. I didn’t really slip that much.”
This wasn’t the first time this year that the Ravens had to deal with a delay.The kickoff for the Ravens’ season-opening loss to the Denver Broncos was delayed because of lightning strikes in the Denver area.
“I think we’ve led the league in delays over the last few years,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said.
The Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII victory in February included the infamous power outage at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans after they had built a halftime lead over the San Francisco 49ers.
“That’s how it’s been treating us, some delays,” wide receiver Torrey Smith said. “They had to sit around the same amount of time we did. They had to deal with the same exact thing, so it’s not really an excuse.”
During the delay, there were extremely heavy winds, steady rain and dark clouds surrounding the stadium. Wind blew trash all over the field and stands. A fan wearing a Terrell Suggs jersey ran onto the rain-soaked field and was tackled at midfield by security personnel and escorted off the field.
“We sat around watching the weather reports during the delay,” said Paul Laiman, a Ravens fan from Bethesda. “It was no natural disaster during the Super Bowl when the lights went out, but this is an act of God.”
Other than being soaking wet, Ravens fans reported no major issues during the delay
“We got a little wet, but we got inside with good notice about the weather,” said Ravens fan Jon Berusch, who grew up in Annapolis and now lives in Chicago. “It was very calm. They got us out before the weather got real bad. It was smart. They handled it very well.”
During the tornado watch, the teams headed to the locker room.
Ravens players took off their pads, stretched and some ate what normally would have been their postgame meal. Coaches held meetings with the players and advised them of what to expect as far as the field conditions.
Harbaugh said the possibility of bad weather was discussed before the game.
“Yes, there were some contingencies,” he said. “The NFL let us know what the situation was. It’s always a possibility.”
The Ravens sacked Bears quarterback Josh McCown just twice and allowed running back Matt Forte to rush for 83 yards and bull into the end zone on a 14-yard screen pass.
“I don’t know if it was the delay because they had the same amount of delay time as we did, but they prepared a little better than we did and they got the win,” defensive lineman Arthur Jones said. “It was tough to the play run and pass rush. We were slipping and sliding all over the field, but there’s no excuses. They played in the same conditions as I did.”
The Ravens led the Bears 17-13 at halftime, but scored just three points in the second half as kicker Justin Tucker made a 21-yard field goal with three seconds left in regulation.
“Everyone was delayed, both teams, everybody in the stadium, everybody watching,” offensive tackle Eugene Monroe said. “You can’t make that a factor. It was a factor for everybody.”