The Los Angeles Rams were grasping onto their dwindling late 4th-quarter lead against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The clock was originally their friend, but with some Jameis Winston momentum it turned into their enemy.
The Rams needed some space to breathe as their comfortable lead was being chipped away by a quick Tampa Bay touchdown. Fans were on the edge of their seats as the game approached the 2-minute warning. And then suddenly the game was postponed due to lightning.
— SNF on NBC (@SNFonNBC) September 26, 2016
The severe lightning storms send both teams into their respective locker rooms and fans away from the metal bleachers into the safety of the stadium. As anticlimactic as this is, the psychological implications for both teams could be huge.
‘Icing the Kicker’ is the term used for when other teams will take a timeout during a big field goal attempt or extra point attempt in order to take the kicker out of his zone. ‘Lightning the Team’ should be the term for the inclement weather, as both teams are sent to the locker rooms until conditions are safe.
This is good for the strategy and coaching staff, but bad for players in the zone. Nerves without the gratifying action get worn down, and come game-time the players are in a different mental state.
Growing up in South Florida, the bursts of cataclysmic weather were a common occurrence and every sports team was used to it. There’s a reason we have teams like the Miami Hurricanes and the Tampa Bay Lightning here. Athletes in the Florida system have at some point been exposed to these game-cancelling or -suspending delays.
Case Keenum, born in Texas, went to college in California. Winston, a Florida State University recruit was actually a transplant from Alabama. Neither quarterback really had the edge they were used to, and both had the opportunity to either gather their spirits (Keenum) or lose their hot streak (Winston). The Rams would go on to hold onto their lead and take their second win to their new LA home.
Now the question most impatient people such as myself asked the minute the warning was issued was, “How long is this going to go on?” Once a game is temporarily suspended, the officials inside the operations center ask the meteorologist on staff (yes, they have even have a meteorologist in that mystery room) what the estimated duration of the game delay will be. This recommendation is then sent to the officials at the stadium.
Only the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to cancel, temporarily suspend, or alter the normal timing of games due to inclement weather. A few people also have the designated authority to do this as well. Usually the referees and officials work in unison to call the game, but ultimately the NFL doesn’t want lightning bolts firing at will into the crowds or the huddle of players on the field.
Video: A lightning strike close to Tampa’s Raymond James stadium, prompting a delay in Buccaneers-Rams game pic.twitter.com/GA1FCZanYJ
— Cloud News (@cloudnews7) September 26, 2016
These events rarely happen and they are not that big of a deal (at least not as big of a deal as Bane blowing up the Gotham Stadium in The Dark Knight Rises), but they still do have their implications for the fans and players.
The energy is immediately sucked out of the arena and the focus is dissipated. In extremely close games like the Rams and Buccaneers game on Sunday, even a 10-minute delay can throw players out of their groove.
The weather delay Sunday was about 75 minutes and the return of the game seemed unlikely. That’s enough time to play a couple games of Madden and sneak in a decent-sized dinner before having to go out on a the field again.
In what is a relatively uncommon and weird event, players have to put an additional focus on staying in the zone come the new game-time – and the interruption obviously benefitted the flagging Rams this time around.