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Turn off lights, turn on water, NFL games go on
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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