NEW YORK (AP) — You can turn off the lights, turn on the water, or fire up the snow plow. No matter what, the NFL show goes on.
Of course, disruptions may be cause for concern (blackouts). Or comic relief (sprinklers). Or confusion (bad calls). Right or wrong it all gets sorted out and the games proceed to a conclusion.
So, after a computer glitch in Miami on Sunday caused stadium sprinklers to douse Seahawks and Dolphins players and delay the game for a minute or two, we feel compelled to put forth a Pick 6 on inadvertent delays of game.
One game, however, merits special attention because it did not hold up the game, just the outcome: Seahawks 14, Packers 12 on Sept. 24.
It took replacement officials approximately 3 minutes, 15 seconds (by our stopwatch) to rule that Russell Wilson’s 24-yard last-play heave into the end zone was a winning TD pass to Golden Tate, not an interception by M.D. Jennings. But even after so much confusion and controversy, the officials missed another call on the same play — offensive pass interference against Tate that would have negated the TD and given the Packers the win.
And now, without further delay, our Pick 6:
All Washed Up (Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21, Nov. 25)
With the sprinkler system erroneously working on a Saturday schedule, water came spraying out between plays during the third quarter. The crowd cheered, the game was held up briefly, the players smiled and toweled off, and Miami went on for a 24-21 win.
Dolphins running back Reggie Bush said it reminded him of the “old 18th hole trick where you send a rookie out there at 9 p.m. and the sprinklers come on.”
Turn out the lights (49ers 20, Steelers 3, Dec. 19, 2011)
A much-anticipated game at Candlestick Park took a little longer to get going when the stadium went dark twice — just before kickoff and early in the second quarter.
With the 49ers hosting the Steelers in a game of playoff-bound teams, the lights went out about 25 minutes before the start of the Monday night game, delaying the opening kickoff by 20 minutes.
Thousands of flashbulbs went off as a sellout crowd of 69,732 sat in darkness (waiting for backup generators to kick in). The second delay came early in the second quarter and held up play about 15 minutes. No hitches followed and the 49ers went on to win.
Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who didn’t travel with the team because he was serving a suspension for an illegal hit, wrote on his Twitter account: “If I cant play then can’t nobody play… Lights out!”
Run away squirrel, run away! (Ravens 24, Browns 10, Dec. 4, 2011)
With the Browns getting hammered and the fans in a foul mood, a squirrel had people cheering wildly for a few minutes during the third quarter. Somehow, the squirrel got into the stadium, started out in one end zone and went on a 100-yard scamper into the other end zone. The jolly jaunt started up the sideline, and stopped as the squirrel paused a few seconds after 30 yards. The critter continued on its merry way, broke into the open field, weaved back near the sideline and finally crossed the goal line. All the while, Ravens and Browns players were on the field preparing for a Baltimore kickoff. What’s a few minutes of delay when you get a chance to watch a squirrel take it to the house?
Bottlegate (Jaguars 15, Browns 10, Dec. 16, 2001)
NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue needed to intervene in this ugly affair that caused a 30-minute delay because of bottle-throwing fans. The Browns were driving for the potential winning TD late in the game, moving toward the notorious Dawg Pound section of the Browns’ stadium. Receiver Quincy Morgan caught a fourth-and-1 pass for a first down. Quarterback Tim Couch then spiked the ball on the next play to stop the clock. But referee Terry McAulay announced well after the spike that Morgan’s catch was going to be reviewed. (NFL rules state that after another play is run the previous play is not reviewable, but the explanation was the referee did not react quickly enough.) Upon review, it was determined a noncatch and the Jaguars were awarded the ball. That’s when plastic beer bottles and other objects came flying out of the stands, striking players and officials. McAulay declared the game over and sent the teams to their locker rooms. But Tagliabue called the game supervisor and ordered him to override the decision, sending the players back on the field. The Jags ran out the last seconds with debris still flying from the stands.
The Fog Bowl (Bears 20, Eagles 12, Dec. 31, 1988)
A heavy, dense fog rolled over Chicago’s Soldier Field during the second quarter of this NFC divisional playoff game, cutting visibility to about 15-20 yards for the rest of the game. The Bears led 17-9 as the fog became so thick that players complained they couldn’t see the sideline and yard markers, and fans, TV and radio announcers had trouble seeing what was happening. Referee Jim Tunney wound up announcing the down and distance on his wireless microphone.
Snow plow to the rescue (Patriots 3, Dolphins 0, Dec. 12, 1982)
One of the classic moments in NFL history occurred when a snow plow came onto the field at Schaefer Stadium, cleared out an area that allowed John Smith to kick a 33-yard field with 4:45 left to give the Patriots the win. Because of the heavy snowfall, officials were allowed to call timeouts to allow a crew to use the plow and clear the yard markers. Turns out that Patriots coach Ron Meyer had ordered the driver, Mark Henderson (a convict on work release), to veer off course to clear a spot for the kick. A few extra seconds were all that was needed to determine the outcome in this one. After the incident, the use of snow plows during games was banned.
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