Friday, December 21, 2007

Eli Can Blow With the Wind

To say Eli Manning and his receivers had a difficult time executing its passing attack last Sunday would be a strong understatement, perhaps as strong as the gusting winds that swirled around Giants Stadium during the G-Men’s 22-10 loss to the Washington Redskins.

Manning connected on less than 35 percent of his passes. The quarterback was victimized by winds of 15-20 mph – sometimes the gusts were stronger – and receivers with hands as soft as Baptist church pew.

The wind and weather for this weekend’s game in Buffalo, a crucial matchup that the Giants must win to stay healthy in the NFC playoff race, promises to be much worse. The forecast for Sunday in Buffalo calls for temperatures to be in the low 40s with a good chance of rain, sleet and possibly snow. Oh, and the wind is expected to blow just as strong off Lake Erie, if not stronger, than it did last Sunday in the Meadowlands.

That could be trouble for the Giants. The New York Daily News ran an excellent article Thursday detailing Manning’s inefficiency during cold weather games. Here’s an excerpt:

The winter has never been kind to Manning. His passer rating when the game-time temperature is below 50 degrees (67.8) is nearly 10 points lower than when the temperature is 50 or above (77.1), according to the Elias Sports Bureau. His completion percentage remains consistent, but his interception percentage goes up when the temperature goes down, too.

That doesn't mean Manning should be labeled "a warm-weather quarterback." For one thing, his numbers are good when the temperature is below 30 (a 62.8% completion rate). For another, temperatures at kickoff are only one factor, and wind, snow or rain are not taken into account.

Wind is probably his bigger problem. Three weeks ago in Chicago, the winds were gusting near 20 mph in the first half and Manning was just 5-for-9 for 54 yards and an interception. The winds died down in the second half, in time for him to lead a fourth-quarter comeback. The winds weren't a factor the next week in Philadelphia and Manning's completion percentage was 54.8.

Manning and the Giants appeared to have a playoff berth all but clinched a few weeks ago. Now, after what has become an all-too-familiar December swoon the fellas in blue, the Giants are looking at a virtual must-win situation in Buffalo. A loss to the Bills Sunday means New York will have to somehow snatch a victory in the season finale against a New England Patriots club that more than likely will be itching to put a exclamation mark on a perfect 16-0 season.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Opps! I Missed It

I missed it yesterday, but I bet you savvy sports/weather enthusiasts did not. In case you did miss it, here's a link to Wednesday's USA Today story about teams like the Browns, Jaguars and Patriots utilizing their "snow-plow" running backs during Sunday's winter storms. "Jamal (Lewis) did an awesome job," Browns left tackle Joe Thomas told USA Today. "He was perfect for this kind of weather. He kept his shoulders north and south, put his head down and just knocked guys over. He carried the pile." Lewis carried the ball 35 times through the snow for 163 yards in the Browns 8-zip win over Buffalo.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Snow Battle in '50 Turns Rosie for Michigan

I was reading The Weather Guys earlier and noticed that they had posted a short note Monday about the snow game played Sunday in Cleveland. Weather Guy Doyle Rice wrote that the game reminded him of other notable snow games, including the snow plow game, the tuck rule game and the 1950 Ohio State-versus-Michigan showdown played in five inches of snow in Columbus. I don't remember ever reading about the latter, but there's a nice account online here that is taken from Ohio State's alumni magazine. The story recalls the basic strategy for both teams was to run the ball up the middle a couple of times and then punt on third down to avoid a costly fumble on fourth down. Seems simple (and boring) enough. Michigan escaped with a 9-3 win in front of 50,503 frost-bitten fans. The win also put Michigan in the Rose Bowl.

Sabres Say Let It Snow

Hey, ya know the NHL's version of the Ice Bowl is just weeks away, and some of the Buffalo Sabres are in the mood for snow for that game after watching the Bills and Browns play in a blizzard in Cleveland on Sunday. “We talked about that a little bit,” Sabres center Paul Gaustad told Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News. “If it was like [Sunday], would we play it? All of us are like, ‘Yeah, let’s play it. Let’s not cancel it. Let’s play.’ I’d rather it be colder than warmer for the Ice Bowl. That’s why they call it the Ice Bowl.” The Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins in the NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1 at Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Stadium. The NHL could postpone the league's first ever outdoor game a day if bad weather arises.

It Rains When They Rub Their Legs Together

If I've said it once, I've said it once: If you want to end a drought, stage a cricket match. It seems to rain at every single match played. I know I said back in the summer that I wasn't going to post anymore stories about cricket match rain delays. I wanted to stick to that unwritten rule, but I really like this photo. Plus, I need to stir up my international foul-weather readers. Anyway, the photo here was taken during a rain delay during the second match of the – hang with me here – Chappel-Hadle one-day series in Sydney, Australia. I'm not sure what that is, but if you know, you could be eligible to win a free stick of Rainout Blog deodorant. Good luck.

You Don't Live In Cleveland

When talking about the rivalry between Ohio's two professional football teams, you can't help but think of former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche's famous "You don't live in Cleveland" sideline chiding of Cincinnati fans who were throwing debris on the field during a game against Seattle in old Riverfront Stadium. Bengals fans thought their team had gotten a rotten call, and began chucking objects – you know, beer bottles and things – toward the field. The Seahawks, who had the ball on their own four-yard line and thus was close to end zone bleachers, refused to continue playing until the protest stopped. Wyche then grabbed a sideline microphone and employed a little amateur psychology by telling fans, in so many words, that they were better than those dog-biscuit-tossing fans in Cleveland. Of course, the crowd then roared with approval and the game played on.

I had been thinking Bengals fans had thrown snow balls during the protest. That's why I wanted to post this story here, on the sports/weather blog. But I remembered incorrectly. So, to make this reminiscence relevant to the Rainout Blog, I'll tell you the extended forecast for the Browns' visit to Cincinnati Sunday calls for a 30 percent chance or rain and/or snow showers with a high of 44 degrees.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Shuffle Off To Buffalo

We got news earlier today that the Buffalo Bills charter plane got stuck in the mud at a Cleveland airport, forcing the team to ride five buses back to upstate New York. It took a while for images of the plane to pop up on the Web, but now, thanks to Cleveland’s, we have visuals. Hey, there’s one the screen now. If you absolutely need to see more, here’s a slideshow. Ok, I’m officially retiring from this blogging stuff for the day. It’s 11:30 p.m. here at Rainout Blog headquarters, and I’m going to watch the Vikings finish the Bears. The Gridiron Norsemen lead 20-13, with 5:32 to play. Good night everybody.


There already are a lot of YouTube videos of Sunday's blizzard in Cleveland, and let me tell you most of them are bad. The video above is part of series of videos taken from the CBS broadcast with some seasonal music in the background. We talked earlier today about Browns' kicker Phil Dawson's ability to pop the uprights in 40-mph gusts Sunday. This video gives plenty of angles of one of Dawson's successful tries. I'm out. Joy to the world!

Under Construction: Nationals Ballpark

Psssst! I've said twice already that I'm finished posting today, but I wanted to share one more thing before getting ready for tonight's indoor football game in Minnesota. It's the Web construction cam for the Washington Nationals new ballpark. You can view today's lastest shot here and see the green outfield grass. The infield is covered with a tarp. The photo above is from a Dec. 6 snow that fell on the construction site and the District area. That's it. Good night.

Pats Fans Are Perfect Snow Tossers

I know I said the post below was my last of the day, but I just discovered has an excellent photo gallery featuring shots from Sunday's bad weather action. In addition to the snow games in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Foxborough, SI's gallery has shots from the evening's game in Giants Stadium, where winds swirled around the huge stadium. Is that why G-Men receivers dropped 12 passes? Of course not. The drops had to be Eli's fault. I hear wind was heavy, too, in Carolina for the Panthers' upset win over Seattle. I try to keep this blog visual, so I didn't mention the windy games because, well, wind is not very visual. Ok, that's it. I'm officially finished for the day.

One more thing: If we learned anything from Sunday's weather games, it's that Patriots' fans like to toss snow in the air like 8-year-old girls. What's up with that?

Fantasy Snowball Fight

Fantasy football owners are having fits today because many star players failed to produce their regular big numbers in Sunday's bad weather games. Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Browns quarterback Derek Anderson are three of those fantasy letdowns from Week 15. What was Tony Romo's excuse? Oh, yeah. Maybe it was his post-game plans that caused him to throw three interceptions and zero touchdowns passes. Anyway, I'm not going to spend much time on fantasy football. (Did I mention my team is championship bound?) Instead, I'll send you to George Winkler of The Sporting News for in-depth fantasy analysis. George even delves into Brian Westbrook sacrificing six points for him and his fantasy owners. Slick move, Mr. Westbrook. Very slick!

By the way, Mike Francesa on WFAN in New York has been giving a verbal beat-down to fantasy football owners today who are complaining about Westbrook taking a knee at the one-yard line.

This is a milestone for the Rainout Blog. It's post No. 200.

That's enough for today. Enjoy the Bears at Vikings as much as you can enjoy an indoor football game.

First Snow, Now Mud Grounds Bills

The bad weather in Cleveland has done more to the Buffalo Bills than cost them a football game. Before the Bills could board its charter flight home Monday morning, the pilot of the plane took a wrong turn between runways and got the plane's front wheel stuck in mud at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. The Bills, who lost 8-0 to the Brownies in a Cleveland blizzard Sunday, were forced to ride buses back to Buffalo, where they will be greated by rain, sleet and several inches of snow. The Bills' flight Sunday out of Cleveland was canceled by heavy snowfall.

WIVB in Buffalo has the story on its Web site, but no video of the mud-stuck plane. However, the story does feature a few seconds of game video that are worth seeing. Also worth checking out is Ellen Maxwell reporting the second story. Ellen is very cute in that snow cap. Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow... in Buffalo!

Indians Snow Out Revisited

While we're on the topic today of Cleveland and snow storms, let's revisit via home video the Indians snowy home opener from this past baseball season. The video is shaky, and there are better videos out there on YouTube of the Tribe's snow out, but this one features Christmas music to help get you in the holiday spirit. That's it for me for a while. I'm going for hot chocolate.

Rip the Roof Off This Place

Is it Monday yet? Yes, it is and tonight the Chicago Bears visit Minneapolis to play their NFC North division rival Minnesota Vikings. Temperatures will dip down to about 17 degrees tonight and there still is left over snow on the ground, as evidenced by this Web cam showing the progress of the Twins new ballpark.

I know that you know that I know that you know the Vikings play in the controlled comforts of the Metrodome, where no weather element is allowed to introduce itself to Vikings football. Once upon a time, however, the gridiron Norsemen played their games outside at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota.

My pal Chad in the J.C. alerted me today about this brief YouTube video (below) of CBS's opening for the 1975 NFC Championship game between the Vikings and Dallas Cowboys. You clearly can see snow piled all around the playing field at Metropolitan Stadium. Look how young Brent Musburger looks. And look at Phyllis George. Wowza! One more thing: Drew Pearson did not push off. Well, that's what Chad tells me.

By the way, as you're looking at the Twins ballpark construction cam, you can see a portion of the Metrodome at the bottom left corner. Joe Namath and his freshly-earned college degree are sitting here with me. We're watching the Web cam for Suzie Kolber to walk by the dome. Man, I'd like to kiss her.

1975 NFL Today Intro

Happy Anniversary Snow Plow

I don't know how I missed this, but Wednesday, Dec. 12, marked the 25th anniversary of the infamous snow plow game in New England. You remember this, right? The Patriots were lining up for a field goal on a snow-covered field when out of no where, Mark Henderson, a convicted felon who was out of state prison on work release, drove a snow plow onto the field to clear a path for Patriots kicker John Smith. The Patriots' lefty kicker punched the game-winner through the uprights to give New England a 3-0 win over the Miami Dolphins. Don Shula was ticked.

Dawson's Kick

Wind was gusting at 40 mph at times during the blizzard in Cleveland Sunday, creating havoc on, well, about everything, including the kicking game. Brown's kicker Phil Dawson, who punched in a couple of wobblers, said he went against kicker's code and aimed his tries outside the goalposts. His first field goal began 10 feet outside the right upright and was blown just inside the left post to give the Brownies a 3-zip lead. Cleveland won 8-0 over the Bills. "Challenging. Brutal," Dawson told reporters after the game. "I would have to say in my nine years here that was by far the most difficult day to kick a football. Had there been no snow at all, it would've been in the top five just because of the way the wind was blowing."

Foot Ball

I don't have a foot fetish or any particular fondness for athletics shoes, but this photo is one of my favorite shots from Sunday's NFL snow action. The pic is of Jacksonville players huddled during the Jaguars' 29-22 victory over the Steelers in wintry Pittsburgh. Look out. The Jags are hot. The Steelers… not so much.

Freeze Frames

As predicted the weather in Foxborough Sunday was horrible for the Jets – Patriots game. The pregame visuals were great, including the Weather Channel dude appearing on ESPN providing a live weather report from a beach somewhere near Foxborough. However, the best in-game visuals came out the winter wonderlands of Cleveland, where the Browns slid by the Bills, and Pittsburgh, where the Steelers melted like a snowman in a greenhouse to the warm-weather-based Jacksonville Jaguars. I may chime back in later with some weather details on each game, but for now here are some uber cool photos from those games. Enjoy!

Browns 8, Bills 0 in Cleveland

Jaguars 29, Steelers 22 in Pittsburgh

Patriots 20, Jets 10 in Foxborough

And now for something completely different:
Chargers 51, Lions 14 in Sunny San Diego

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Snow Has Arrived

The forecasted bad weather has arrived for today's Spy vs. Spy game in Foxbrough. Check out this photo captured at 9:26 a.m. from a Web cam inside Gillette Stadium. I don't know about you, but I'm rooting for an upset. J-E-T-S, Jets! Jets! Jets!

Speaking stadium snow captured by Web cams, Lambeau Field is banketed with white stuff this morning. Alas, the Packers are playing in the controlled climate of, uh, that dome in St, Louis, whatever it's name is. I'm rooting for the Packers, and especially Brett Favre, who is leading my fantasy team into the playoffs today.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Carroll Wins Muddy NAIA Title Tilt

Carroll College captured its fifth NAIA football title in six years Saturday with a 17-9 win over Sioux Falls on a soggy, muddy field in Savannah, Tenn. The weather played havoc on both teams’ ability to hang onto the slippery pigskin. Carroll, which is located in Montana, fumbled six times and lost three of those, while Sioux Falls dropped thee and lost two. Carroll’s Gabe Le ran for 116 yards and reached the end zone twice in the third quarter to help his team win and earn game MVP honors. That’s Carroll’s Brandon Day (No. 34) and Zach Richardson (No. 7) celebrating in the mud following their championship win, much like my pal Michael and I did back in fifth grade little league. The only difference is Michael and I weren’t celebrating a win; we were sliding in the mud behind the bench as the game was in progress. We were bored because of lack of playing time. Anyway, congratulations to Carroll. I still think UVa-Wise should have been in the NAIA playoffs. But at least the NAIA has a playoff system, right? Right!

White Out in Brownsville

As I mentioned Friday, there are a number of potential bad weather games in store for NFL fans Sunday, including one of the day’s hottest matchups, Buffalo Bills at Cleveland Browns. According to forecasts, temperatures in Cleveland will get no higher than 22 degrees on game day with winds blowing at 22 miles per hour accompanied by a 90 percent chance of snow with accumulation predicted at 1-2 inches. Gusts could reach up to 41 miles per hour according to reports that the team prepared for Sunday game by practicing outside Friday wearing Under Armour, ski masks and winter caps.

Speaking of snow in Cleveland, remember this?

Snow Leaves Garden Nearly Empty

I didn’t have time to mention Friday about the New England snow storm’s affect on attendance at the Boston Bruins Thursday night game against the New Jersey Devils. Heavy snow and slick roads in Boston left TD Banknorth Garden nearly empty for the Devils 3-1 victory. The lack of fans didn’t adversely affect the Devils’ Mike Mottau, who jokingly told reporters, "I think the ushers and the families were the only ones in the stands. It's always nice to play an NHL game – fans or no fans." The announced paid attendance for the game was 12,064. During pregame introductions, the Garden lights were dimmed and falling snow flakes were shown on the Jumbotron and message boards that ring the arena.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Snow Is A Go Sunday

In addition to the bad weather projected for the Spy vs. Spy game in Foxborough (see below), there's a good chance we could have a slew of bad weather games come Sunday. And some of those are good games with playoff implications, including Bills at Browns and Jaguars at Steelers. Don’t' ya love it? Check out the forecasts for all of this weekend's NFL games on this page. That's it for me today. Have a good night and enjoy the wet, cold, slippery action… on the football field. Jeez! Go Appy State!

Graham Ready To Boot Patriots

Jets punter Ben Graham likes kicking in bad weather games. Good because Gang Green will need him plenty Sunday against the Patriots in Foxborough where forecasters are calling for a snowing, windy, cold-as-a-polar-bear's-butt day. “I’ve seen the forecast and I’m looking forward to punting out there today to get a feel for it,” Graham said to before practicing in the freezing rain Wednesday. The Aussie punter also gave readers and aspiring cold-weather punters some inside info on how to handle the wintry conditions.

On punting in windy conditions: “If it’s windy, you have to drop the ball a little lower so the wind doesn’t affect the ball when you’re dropping it to your foot. But I’ve had some of my best games in the snow, the wind and the rain. I’m looking forward to it just like every game. It’s always a good challenge going up there to play, no matter the situation both teams are in.”

On relying on long-snapper James Dearth to communicate the condition (wet or dry?) of the ball: “It doesn’t become too much heavier. The snappers tell you how the ball is going to be because they get their hands on it in the beginning. They know if the wax has been completely rubbed off or if the rain will affect it.”

While Graham and the Jets practiced outside Wednesday in freezing rain, the Patriots sought the warm comforts of an indoor practice as snow fell at Gillette Stadium. Weenies!

The Patriots cheerleaders practiced in the same location. Tom Brady scanned the group, picked out the prettiest girl, clapped his hands twice and said, "Bathe her and bring her to me." (Ok, I made up that part of the story.)

You probably already know this but the line has dipped from 27 points in favor of the Patriots to 24. This is no doubt a result of the weather forecast. I'm no Vegas insider, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see the line go under 20 before kickoff Sunday.

Because of the Spygate incident, many are calling for (hoping for) New England to run up the score on the 3-and-whatever Jets. Since the forecast was announced, I haven't heard any more of those those Patriots-will-score-70 picks. Most everyone now is limiting the undefeated Patriots to about 55. I don’t think the game is going to be a blowout.

My prediction is the Brady will slip on the icy field and the Jets will score a safety. Brady will be forced to leave the game with an injury and will not return. Later, in the fourth quarter, Mike Nugent will squeeze in a field goal and the J-E-T-S pull off the biggest upset in football this year, winning 5-3 over the Patriots.

Scary Flight For Ravens' Lewis

Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis had a frightening helicopter ride Tuesday. The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday that Lewis was on his way back to Baltimore from New York when the helicopter he was riding in flew directly into heavy fog and rain. The pilot of the aircraft was able to land safely in a field. Lewis, who had been in New York to shoot and Under Armour commercial, was on his way back to Baltimore to attend Christmas party for about 600 children in the city. "We get halfway to Baltimore and all of a sudden out of nowhere, a fog jumped on us," Lewis told the Sun. "Fog, rain, and we were like, 'Are you serious?' But now we're trapped over water, and I can't see out of the helicopter."

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Frozen Indentity

In addition to athletics and weather, I have a fondness for sports uniforms. So, naturally I'm a frequent reader of the Uniwatch blog. A couple of days ago a few comments appeared on the Uniwatch message board about the Chicago Bears are having trouble with logos staying attached to helmets. Someone suggested that the cold weather in the Windy City could make the sticker logo brittle, thus causing them to break off. Good point. Another comment informed us that temperatures in Chicago had not been so cold during Bears games at Soldier Field. Also, the photo above, which was posted on Uniwatch, is from the Bears game at Washington last week. So, what gives? I don't know, but one of the commenters vowed to get to the bottom of the issue. This news appeared Tuesday, I think, and so far no one that I've seen has posted any updates. Perhaps I could do a little leg work on this myself, but I'm too lazy, I mean busy.

(The above photo was posted on Uniwatch.)

Snooooooow Perfect!

Love them or hate them, the New England Patriots are a perfect team this year. At 13-0, it's unlikely the Pats' unblemished record will be tarnished this weekend in the Spy vs. Spy game at home against the hapless Jets. Gang Green certainly will not be able to stop New England's offense, but Eric Mangini's club is hoping to get a little help from the weather in Foxborough where currently there is a heavy snow warning and early forecasts for Sunday are calling for snow, ice, lots of wind and a high temperature of 35 degrees. But if the Jets are counting on horrid weather conditions to help stop pretty boy Tom Brady and the Patriots, they better fix their eyes on lots more illegally-obtained video tape. The Boston Globe today gives us word that the Patriots are a perfect – there's that word again – 9-0 in snow games since 1978 with some thanks, of course, going to a convict and a tuck. Here's the list:

• Dec. 4, 2005 -- 16-3 win over the Jets
• Jan. 16, 2005 -- 20-3 playoff win over the Colts
• Jan. 18, 2004 -- 24-14 playoff win over the Colts
• Dec. 14, 2003 -- 27-13 win over the Jaguars
• Dec. 7, 2003 -- 12-0 win over the Dolphins
• Jan. 19, 2002 -- 16-13 overtime playoff win over the Raiders
• Dec. 4, 1983 -- 7-0 win over the Saints
• Dec. 12, 1982 -- 3-0 win over the Dolphins
• Dec. 10, 1978 -- 26-24 win over the Bills

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Slacker Update

To all my loyal international readers, I apologize for being a slacker and not making many posts over the past month. It is, you know, the holiday season, and that's always a busy time.

There have been plenty of football games with rain and some with snow and ice. (Did you hear the Packers had fans shoveling snow at Lambeau Field last week? That would have been a perfect post for this blog. Oh, well.)

I didn't fell like posting photos of soggy football games just to update the blog. However, that's sort of what I'm doing today. In fact, that's exactly what I'm doing today.

The above photo is of the other football – we call it soccer here in the States – and it features Wayne Rooney of Manchester United during an EPL game with Derby County at Old Trafford Saturday. ManU won 4-0.

I promise to chime back in later with more sports/weather news. Good night, Dubai.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Battle For Weather Extremes

Tonight's the big game that could decide which team, Packers or Cowboys, gets home field advantage in the NFC Championship come Jan. 20. Much of the talk this week has been centered on, not the action on the field, but the number of American households that do not receive the NFL Network, thus leaving millions of fanatical football folks without a chance watch on their TV sets. But that's an issue for other blogs. Here, the focus is on weather. Not tonight's weather in Irving, where temps will be around 48 degrees with partly cloudy skies, but the projected weather for that late January NFC title game.

Today's Dallas Morning News provides a chart listing the record highs and record lows for both Green Bay and Irving for Jan. 20. Looking at the extremes we find that the record high for Irving is 83 degrees, set back in 1972. Ok, fine. Now the good stuff. The record low for Green Bay was a brain-numbing -25 degrees in 1985. I'm no math major, but it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to realize that a total of 108 degrees in temperate could be on the line tonight at Texas Stadium. Quick, call your cable provider and tell them you have to have the NFL Network. And tell them Jerry Jones sent you.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dirty Talk About Heinz Turf

Well, there's a lot to be said about the Monday mud bath in Pittsburgh last night, and trust me, a lot is being said. And as you can imagine, most of the conversation is negative concerning the field conditions. Comments about artificial turf needing to be installed at Heinz Field are falling out of sports media mouths everywhere. Hang in there, Pittsburgh, and keep your grass field. (Insert Ricky Williams joke here.) Sometimes I get the feeling there are some people who would like to see football everywhere played in nice dry, room-temperature domes where no outside factors can affect the games. Next, those same people may protest to outlaw fans from games, so that crowd noise plays no role in who wins. Maybe I'm being too dramatic. Forget all that for now. Monday night's game was great if you love the occasional bad weather game. There was a little of everything last night ranging from lightning strikes that delayed kickoff and scrapped the National Anthem to new sod being mucked up to washed-off yard markers to a punt sticking a perfect landing (see video below).

Here's what some media folks are saying about the game, which nearly everyone is dubbing "Muddy Night Football."

Associated Press

For 591/2 scoreless minutes, the Dolphins and Steelers slipped and slid on swampland masquerading as an NFL playing field, stuck so deep in the messy muck that neither team managed much yardage, much less any scoring.

The Steelers couldn't have picked a worse time to lay down new turf. After five high school and college games were played at Heinz Field last weekend, crews hurriedly put down a new layer of sod atop the chewed-up grass in time for Monday night's game.

Because the rain fell so heavily most of the day, the water seeped between the seams of the protective tarps, resulting in huge puddles, soft spots and sinkholes.

Late in the third quarter, Brandon Fields' punt from near the Miami goal line came straight down and plugged in the soggy turf like an arrow, burying itself several inches deep.

Jim Corbett, USA TODAY

There was lots of rain, wind and mud followed by intermittent splashes of sloppy play, punts that plugged in puddles and, until the final 17 seconds, no scoring. Nada.

There was even a lightning delay as kickoff for Monday night's Miami Dolphins-Pittsburgh Steelers game was pushed back 25 minutes.

What followed was a messy exhibition of late November football played on soupy Heinz Field that had been resodded during Thanksgiving weekend.

Most of the yardage lines were wiped away during the game's opening series as the game at times resembled mud sliding in helmets and shoulder pads. Changing direction and scoring posed a difficult challenge. But not impossible.

John Clayton, ESPN

The city that brought you the Terrible Towel now has the Terrible Field.

The playing surface has been a problem brewing at Heinz Field for years, and it may force the Steelers to go to artificial or field turf in 2008.

The situation was hopeless. Because the sod was positioned over the old field, there was no drainage. Grounds crew members had to resort to using pitch forks to puncture holes in the surface to drain the standing water. On top of that, a flash of lightning sent both teams to the locker rooms, delaying the game for 15 minutes.

(Hines) Ward kept reminding his receivers not to worry about yards after the catch, just worry about the catch. Ward made nine sure-handed receptions for 88 yards, including three catches for 38 yards on the game-winning drive.

Ward said most of Pittsburgh's players don't want the organization to go to artificial turf. The Rooneys want Heinz Field to be natural. On Monday night, it was a natural disaster. Seeing two TV shots of punted balls landing in the mud and sticking there might convince the Rooneys to take the natural feel away from Heinz in 2008.


The Pittsburgh Steelers own one of the NFL's greatest home field advantages at Heinz Field, where winds howling off the three rivers torment opposing kickers and fans stomping on the upper-deck bleachers create a disruptive din.

The weather looked more reminiscent of Miami than Pittsburgh, with the rain so heavy at times that it resembled that which fell during the Steelers' 13-3 win at Miami on Sept. 26, 2004. That game, which featured Ben Roethlisberger's debut as the Steelers quarterback, was pushed back to a nighttime start after Hurricane Jeanne struck south Florida earlier that day.

Across the state, the Philadelphia Eagles are experiencing the same problem at Lincoln Financial Field, which they share with Temple. New sod will be laid there before the Eagles' Sunday home game against Seattle.
Like the Steelers, the Eagles are putting down turf they believe is sturdy and heavy enough to last the rest of the season.
The Steelers' old surface was beginning to raise the ire of opponents. Several Cleveland players called it the NFL's worst following the Browns' 31-28 loss on Nov. 11.

An NFL players survey last year ranked the Patriots' Gillette Stadium and Heinz Field as the two worst playing fields. The Patriots subsequently yanked up the grass and put down grass-like artificial turf.

However, Steelers owner Dan Rooney has long favoured grass, believing it causes fewer injuries. Several former Steelers stars experienced career-altering injuries on Three Rivers Stadium's artificial turf, including Rod Woodson and Jack Lambert.
Rooney isn't alone in his thinking. A majority of colder-weather NFL teams with open-air stadiums still play on grass: the Browns, Broncos, Chiefs, Bears, Packers, Eagles, Redskins and Steelers.

So do the Titans and Panthers, who play in cities where the late-season weather is cold to moderate.

The latest field fiasco apparently has the Steelers rethinking their grass-only policy. They already practise regularly on Field Turf in their indoor practice building.

Some in Pittsburgh wonder if a different type of grass surface or altered maintenance might help the Steelers keep grass and avoid a switch to artificial turf.

When Pitt's players arrived at Heinz Field for their spring game in April 2006, they were surprised to find the field markings and paint remained from the Steelers' final home game Jan. 1 - suggesting little had been done to the turf since then. Two blocks down the street at the Pirates' PNC Park, there was a lush grass surface.

(Wow, I should have posted Robinson's entire article. That was good stuff.)

Scott Brown Pittsburgh TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Mike Tomlin said the Steelers will keep their options open in regard to installing artificial turf at Heinz Field after the season.

But, Tomlin added, there is nothing the Steelers can do about the field this season and so it is not a major concern.

Jeff Darlington, Miami Herald

It was ugly and sloppy and dirty and unpredictably bad, an imperfect mess that only added more depression to this perfectly imperfect season.

And that only describes the Dolphins' offense Monday.

In a game that could soon go down as the most symbolic loss of this memorably disastrous year, Miami fell to the Steelers 3-0 in a prime-time mudfest that didn't fade into failure until Pittsburgh booted a game-winning field goal with 17 seconds remaining.

KDKA Radio in Pittsburgh talked with fans about their thoughts concerning last night's game and playing conditions. Here's the link.

Player Quotes

Hines Ward - "Those conditions, whew, they were horrendous. The footing was bad, all of a sudden you'd hit a water puddle and sink down. Some of defensive backs were scared about falling down and giving up a big play."

Dolphins kicker Jay Feely - "From the 25 to the 35 (yard lines), you just could not kick. They were the worst conditions that I ever kicked in while in the NFL."

Ben Roethlisberger - "This is one of the worst conditions I've ever played in. The field was ridiculous. I'm proud of my guys."

Jason Taylor - "The Patriots' field was pretty bad a couple of years before they put the new turf in. This one was probably the worst I've seen in this league."

Mud Stuck Pigskin

Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Monsoon

I'm watching, and you're watching the Steelers and Dolphins battle each other along with rain, wind and terribly beautiful wet field conditions. It's 11:05 Eastern and the game is like me in high school: scoreless. I'm going to watch the rest of the game. Let's hope for overtime... and lots more rain.

Mike Tirico just said that the last time a game was scoreless this long was the infamous snow plow game. More on that and the Monday night game later.

Since You've Been Gone

So, where've ya been? Oh, wait.

It was me who was on the hiatus. During October, I was on a break-neck pace for updating this blog. I was making five posts on some days.

Now, I realize that's not a lot for those of you who are totally devoted to this blog thing (or named Neil Best) but that's a pretty good clip for me. Plus, there's been a bit of a dry spell in the sports/weather biz. Some may call it a drought.

There have been a few rain drops at games here and there, but nothing significant enough to make us drop everything and say, "Wow, I can't believe they're playing in that kind of weather."

The best sports/weather event I've seen in the past few weeks was Kelly Clarkson singing and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders dancing in the rain during halftime of the Boys win over the hapless Jets on Thanksgiving Day.

Maybe, as we move into December, we’ll have more to talk about. And soon thereafter, football will be over and we'll be left with indoor sports. Alas. Then another Rainout Blog hiatus will ensue for a month until spring training begins. But maybe not.

Maybe I'll get some time to do that often-put-off research I've been meaning to do. By the way, there's a 70 percent chance of rain tonight in Pittsburgh for tonight's Steelers – Dolphins game. Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cup Overflow

We’re right smack in the middle of football season, the World Series just wrapped up, yet we have a baseball rain out to report.

The 37th Baseball World Cup was to begin today with Taiwan facing Italy at Tienmu Stadium in Taipei. However, rain forced postponement of the game, which now will be played Monday.

Six other teams are scheduled to open play Monday with Spain playing Panama, South Africa taking on Japan and Mexico battling the U.S. team. In all 16 teams will compete for the World Cup title. The tournament runs through Nov. 18.

Cuba, the New York Yankees of the competition, is the favorite to win its 26th Cup title. The U.S. and Venezuela are considered top contenders.

The U.S. squad is made up of double and triple A minor leaguers with the most recognizable name being Evan Longoria. However, this Longoria is an infielder with triple A Durham, not a desperate housewife.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Steelers Flooding Ravens on MNF

At the risk of looking like one of those nerdy live blogs, I wanted to provide an in-game photo showing rain falling in Pittsburgh as the Steelers and Ravens compete on Monday Night Football. As expected, a steady rain fell during pregame and the first quarter. The wet stuff, however, had no negative effects on the home team. It’s halftime (The live version of PTI is on) and the Steelers have the Heinz Field crowd in a frenzy with a 35-7 lead. Ben Roethlisberger tossed four touchdown passes in the first half. Willis McGahee got the Ravens on the board late in the second quarter with a long TD run. I mention that only because it helps my fantasy team. All right that’s it for me tonight. Let’s hope Big Ben throws five more touchdowns. And no, this does not qualify as live blogging. Good night, Singapore.

Steelers, Ravens Battle For AFC North May Be All Wet

There's nothing unusual about the Pittsburgh Steelers being in first place in the AFC North with the Baltimore Ravens nipping at their heels, but it is unusual for the Cleveland Browns to be in the mix for an AFC wildcard berth, and for the division title.

A Monday Night Football loss by the Steelers puts the Ravens and the Brownies in a three-way, first place tie with Pittsburgh. Tonight's matchup is intriguing and may be played in less-than-perfect playing conditions.


The weather forecast for Pittsburgh tonight calls for a 70 percent chance of occasional rain tapering to a few showers late. About a half inch of rain is possible. Thunder may roar through the Steel City skies early in the evening and winds could reach 25 mph. Lows are expected to dip to about 39 degrees. Now this is football weather.

And don't forget that the Heinz Field natural grass surface isn't the best when it comes to providing solid footing. Heinz consistently rates poorly among players and is regularly ripped for being one of the worst playing surfaces in the NFL. Tonight we may get a chance to see which team is the baddest mudder in the division. (That's so lame!)

Both the Steelers and Ravens are strong running teams. With the forecasted weather conditions, I'm guessing we'll see a lot of Fast Willie Parker and Willis McGahee and few passes. I'm setting the over/under for passes thrown tonight at 41 and I'm taking the under.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Ryan's Heisman Hopes Washed Out

The forecasters came through right on target for the Boston College game Saturday night against Florida State. Of course, I’m talking about weather forecasters and not the odds makers in Vegas.

I didn’t see much of Florida State's 27-17 upset over the previously unbeaten Eagles, but I did see enough to know the turf was soaked. Here’s what a USA Today story had to say about the weather conditions at Chestnut Hill:

The game began in a frigid and soaking downpour, with wind gusts forecast at up to 50 mph as the remnants of Hurricane Noel proceeded up the East Coast. The rain had stopped by the end of the first quarter, but the winds battered the U.S. flag and played havoc with a couple of second-quarter field goal attempts.

Matt Ryan threw for 415 yards, but tossed three costly interceptions in the Eagles first loss of the season, likely knocking the quarterback out of the running for the Heisman Trophy.

Sorry ESPN. (In case you haven’t noticed, the Four-Letter Network has been tirelessly touting Ryan for the Heisman for the past week and a half.)

One of Ryan’s interceptions was returned for a touchdown.

Florida State’s Drew Weatherford, whose surname is great for a sports weather blog, had a more Heisman-like game with 354 yards, no interceptions and two big TD passes.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Slingin' In The Rain

The bad news for Matt Ryan is that weather forecasters are saying there's a 100 percent chance he'll be tossing the pigskin in the rain for the second consecutive game.

The good news for the Heisman candidate – I think ESPN has already given him the trophy – is that he will be facing a defense that more resembles the one he faced in the final two minutes of his Boston College Eagles' win more than a week ago instead of the Virginia Tech defense that busted his chops in the game's first 58 minutes.

The undefeated Eagles welcome ACC foe Florida State to Chestnut Hill Saturday where rain and wind gusts are likely with temperatures dipping to 40 degrees at kickoff. The weather is a result of Hurricane Noel which is tracking parallel with the coast and will graze eastern seaboard states.

Noel will lose its hurricane strength as it moves up the coast, but still will be a significant storm by the time it slides by Massachusetts. More than an inch of rain is expected in Boston beginning Saturday morning.

I Think This Says It All