Ravens game pushed to Nov.

The Baltimore Sun

The devastation caused by Hurricane Ike forced the NFL to reschedule the Ravens' road opener at Houston for a second time, postponing the game to Nov. 9.

Ike, which came ashore on Texas' Gulf Coast as a strong Category 2 storm early yesterday with heavy rains and sustained 110 mph winds, severely damaged the roof of Reliant Stadium, making it unsafe to play.

The league had discussed playing the game tomorrow at an alternate site - possibly New Orleans or Atlanta - but it ultimately decided to move the game to a later date and switch the Ravens' and Texans' bye weeks.

One reason for the postponement was the potential problem of getting the Texans to one of those sites because the airports in Houston have been shut down.

"In light of what happened in Houston, everyone felt it was inappropriate to have a game this week," Ravens president Dick Cass said, "and there were logistical concerns with the Texans."

Though NFL teams have had their games relocated because of severe weather, reshuffling the schedule is an unusual move.

The NFL rescheduled the Ravens-Texans game to Week 10, which had been the Ravens' bye week. The Houston-Cincinnati game, which was set for Week 10, has been moved to Week 8, the bye week for the Texans and Bengals.

This means the Ravens and the Texans will have to play 15 straight games without a break.

"We understand the decision," Cass said.

When the NFL was talking about alternate sites, moving the game to Baltimore wasn't discussed, Cass said. The league felt some backlash in the wake of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when it forced the New Orleans Saints to play a scheduled home game against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium.

The Ravens' next game is against the Cleveland Browns at M&T; Bank Stadium next Sunday.

"Our thoughts and prayers are all with all those impacted by this hurricane," coach John Harbaugh said. "We will adjust. Our focus now turns to preparing for the Browns."

With the threat of Ike, the NFL originally pushed back the Ravens' game at Houston from this afternoon to tomorrow night. The Ravens were scheduled to have a walk-through today before departing to Houston.

Now, Harbaugh has decided to give the players three days off (today through Tuesday).

"Without a bye, we believe we need to give the players the next few days off," Harbaugh said. "We'll have a Cleveland game plan ready for them when they come in on Wednesday."

It is unknown whether the Ravens will be playing at Reliant when they travel to Houston in two months.

Ike ripped chunks off the retractable roof of the $352 million stadium, which could force the Texans to temporarily play at either Rice Stadium or San Antonio's Alamodome.

"There are parts of the roof that are completely gone," said Shea Guinn, the president and general manager of Reliant Park. "It's hard to tell what came from where."

Even before the game was postponed for two months, Ravens players said they had the Texans' well-being in their thoughts.

"They're not thinking about football right now," cornerback Samari Rolle said. "Obviously, life and family come before that. We just pray that everybody down there is safe."

Brendon Ayanbadejo, a first-year Ravens special teamer who played for the Miami Dolphins in 2005 when Katrina hit Florida, said: "Everybody's got to evacuate. You've got to get generators. You've got to get food. You've got to prepare for all these things, and you have no idea what's going to happen.

"Everybody here wants the best for them and hopes they get through this with as minimal damage as possible. That's the main thing on our minds."

Baltimore Sun reporter Ken Murray and the Associated Press contributed to this article.


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