Game now on Monday

The Baltimore Sun

The threat of Hurricane Ike has forced the NFL to push the Ravens' road opener in Houston back a day to Monday night at 8:30.

The hurricane is expected to make landfall in Texas this weekend, striking between Houston and Corpus Christi.

Ike likely will come ashore as a dangerous Category 3 storm on the five-step intensity scale with winds of more than 111 mph late tonight or early tomorrow, according to the National Hurricane Center.

The decision by the league came after a conference call yesterday with officials from the Ravens and the Houston Texans.

"This was the league's recommendation, and we agreed," Ravens president Dick Cass said.

This marks the second time in the Ravens' 13-year history that a regular-season game has been moved.

In 2001, the Ravens' second game had to be postponed until the end of the season because of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

"We understand completely why the change had to be made," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "We'll adjust our schedules."

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday at 4:15 p.m., and the Ravens were set to fly to Houston tomorrow.

But travel became a problem when airports in Houston announced that they were shutting down today and tomorrow.

The Ravens have scheduled a short practice Sunday before flying out later that day.

There is a possibility that the game could be changed again Sunday if Hurricane Ike causes damage to the city and Reliant Stadium, the Texans' 71,054-seat retractable-roof stadium.

If the game can't be played in Houston, the NFL might consider relocating the game to an alternate site. Shifting the game to Atlanta, 793 miles east of Houston, was discussed by the league yesterday.

"I'm sure the league and the Texans will monitor the situation and see what the conditions are in Houston when the storm has passed through" tomorrow, Cass said.

Keeping the game in Houston goes against the league's recent trend of moving games affected by severe conditions.

In 2003, a game in San Diego was moved to Arizona State because Southern California was being ravaged by wildfires.

In 2005, the league caused controversy when it made New Orleans, which suffered through Hurricane Katrina, play an originally scheduled home game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium. The NFL took heat for giving the Giants an unfair advantage, one reason this weekend's game wasn't moved to Baltimore's M&T; Bank Stadium.

Texans tight end Owen Daniels, who has a background in meteorology, seemed concerned that the game was not moved.

"I know it's going to be bad if it comes through," he said. "I don't know if some of the other guys realize how bad it might get."

Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron coached on the San Diego Chargers' staff in 2003, when the wildfires forced the game against the Miami Dolphins to be played on a Monday night at Arizona State.

"Veterans don't last in this business being distracted," Cameron said. " ... I can't imagine many things distracting this coaching staff or this football team. We all have an understanding that it's a blessing to coach or play in an NFL game. Just tell us when the game is and where to play it, and we'll play it."

Hurricane Ike has disrupted several sporting events in Texas.

The Houston Astros postponed their games today and tomorrow against the Chicago Cubs.

Tomorrow's football game between Air Force and the University of Houston was moved to Dallas. The Texas-Arkansas game was pushed back to Sept. 27.

At this point, the Ravens and the Texans plan to play the game in Houston.

"We don't have a contingency plan in effect," Cass said. "We'll be in discussions over the weekend."

RAVENS@TEXANS

Monday,

8:30 p.m.

TV: Chs. 13, 9 Radio: 97.9 FM, 1090 AM

Line: Texans

by 4 1/2

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