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

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

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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Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Ravens' Steve Smith answers backhanded compliment like the legend he is

Custom cleats are taking over the NFL, and this Sunday, players will have a chance to wear them during the games. The league will allow players to customize cleats with designs that represent causes they care about. 

Ravens receiver Steve Smith has been outspoken about putting an end to domestic violence, so he plans to use his cleats as a platform for that message this weekend. 

The shiny gold shoes drew a lot of praise on Twitter, but one user decided to weigh in with a backhanded compliment. And as you'd expect, it was a mistake. 

For the uninitiated, there is a reason Smith warns people in his Twitter bio, "If you come @ me, it definitely won't end in your favor." Just ask Anthony Brown and Jalen Ramsey

MORE RAVENS: Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens

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Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

Five factors to predict Dolphins at Ravens this Sunday

What: Dolphins (7-4) at Ravens (6-5)

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

Where: M&T Bank Stadium

Ravens injuries:

OUT – TE Crockett Gillmore (thigh), G Alex Lewis (ankle), RB Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh).

DOUBTFUL – RB Buck Allen (non-football issue).

QUESTIONABLE – WR Kamar Aiken (thigh), CB Jimmy Smith (ankle).

Dolphins injuries:

OUT – C Maurkice Pouncey (hip).

DOUBTFUL – CB Xavien Howard (knee).

QUESTIONABLE – OT Branden Albert (wrist), LB Kiko Alonso (hamstring), G Jermon Bushrod (calf), RB Kenyen Drake (knee); LB Jelani Jenkins (knee/hand); DT Earl Mitchell (back); WR DeVante Parker (back); G/T Laremy Tunsil (shoulder).

Five questions you should ask:

1. Are the Dolphins ready to win a big road game in December?

Despite their six-game winning streak, the Dolphins are just 2-3 away from home. Now you’re asking them to win at M&T Bank Stadium, where the Dolphins are 0-2 all-time? We’ll see. The Dolphins will gain credibility as an AFC playoff threat if they win this game.

2. Can the Ravens put together a complete offensive performance?

Quarterback Joe Flacco wasn’t satisfied with the Ravens’ 19-14 win over the Bengals in Week 12. Actually, he hasn’t been satisfied with the offense all season.

“When you have a team 16-3, you would like to choke them out and get it over with,” Flacco said.

He knows the Ravens have to play better offensively to go on a December run. And part of that improvement starts with Flacco.

3. Can the Ravens’ offensive line handle Cameron Wake (8½ sacks) and Ndamukong Suh (five sacks)?

The Dolphins’ defensive line has the ability to make Flacco’s day miserable. The Ravens’ offensive line will need one of its better performances.

4. Which team’s running game will be most effective?

This could be the key to victory, because both teams want to run and utilize play-action passing. Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi (847 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) is a load, but the Ravens have the NFL’s top-ranked run defense. Ravens rookie running back Kenneth Dixon is coming off his best game (13 carries, 49 yards), and looks ready to share more carries with Terrance West (600 yards).

5. Can the Ravens get enough pressure on Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill?

Tannehill has nine touchdown passes and just one interception during the Dolphins’ six-game winning streak. The Dolphins like to get Tannehill outside the pocket and take advantage of his ability to throw accurately on the move. Tannehill’s game has grown under new head coach Adam Gase. If the Ravens don’t throw Tannehill off his rhythm, he will make plays.

Prediction: Expect a typical close Ravens game, but I see them squeezing out a critical victory, on the strength of Justin Tucker’s leg.

Ravens 20, Dolphins 17 

MORE RAVENS: How Ravens could still win AFC North