The game was played with a severe weather threat from early afternoon prior to the game and was the source of problems from the outset. The result was a one-hour, five-minute weather delay due to lightning in the vicinity.
Although the game started on time as scheduled, the stadium was evacuated twice during the pregame as threatening weather came through two hours before game time and didn’t allow either team to get on the field to warm up (consistently, at least) until 45 minutes before the scheduled 7 p.m. CDT start.
The game was stopped at 8:10 p.m. with 6:45 remaining in the first half as a streak of lightning hit northwest of TCF Bank Stadium and the Raiders players immediately started heading off the field.
During the delay, NFL officials discussed ending the first half at that point and, when the game resumed, Oakland would receive the opening kickoff with the game tied 6-6. The Raiders refused and the game resumed at the point it was stopped.
For the Vikings, the closest they had come to a home weather delay was when the Metrodome roof collapsed in 2010. Earlier that season, the Vikings were playing a prime time game against the New York Jets that was delayed almost an hour by lightning. The reaction of the players was very different because for most of them, the bizarre events of Saturday night was a first for them.
However, it wasn’t a first (sort of) for defensive end Justin Trattou, who was part of a preseason rarity in 2011 with the Giants.
“In my rookie year, they cancelled a game,” Trattou said. “It was one of those hurricane type storms and they canceled it the night before the game.”
For the majority of the players, the truncated warm-up period prior to the game and the 65-minute stoppage of play was something they had never experienced or even thought of as a possibility.
“I haven’t seen it in little league, high school, college, anywhere,” linebacker Gerald Hodges said. “I’ve played in bad weather, but never had it stopped. The preame stop was worse. A lot of guys have routines they go through before games and this definitely messed with that routine. Coach Zimmer told us don’t let your emotions get the best of you, just relax, stay focused and get prepared to go out and play.”
Even guys who have been around the league a long time haven’t seen what the Vikings and Raiders experienced Saturday. While veteran Chad Greenway did in college – on the road against Arizona State, no less – veteran cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said it was a first for him and most players were left to their own devices during the down time.
“Never in my career,” Munnerlyn said. “I’ve been in the league seven years and have never been in a situation like this. We had to warm up in the locker room before the game and after they stopped it. I listened to some music until we got the word we could go back out.”
While it may never happen again during the careers of Vikings players, it is now something that the coaching staff can relate to. If a protocol needs to be put in place, offensive tackle Matt Kalil thinks it may end up being something the coaching staff prepares for in a just-in-case scenario.
“This was the first time,” Kalil said. “It’s something you don’t expect, but you have to adapt to it. Fortunately for me and the rest of the starters, we were already done, but it can be something we can use as a teaching tool for the future now that we’ve gone through it. You don’t expect it, but you have to be ready when it happens to have in mind what you do. This was a first for me and, I’m guessing, a lot of guys in the locker room.”