BALTIMORE -- The forecast for Sunday's Minnesota Vikings-Baltimore Ravens game initially called for snow and freezing rain to arrive sometime after kickoff at M&T Bank Stadium. But when snow arrived hours before kickoff, blanketing the field in white, the circumstances of the game changed dramatically.
The Vikings and Ravens both struggled to throw the ball early on Sunday. On an early third down in which the Ravens appeared to be short of a first down, officials couldn't find the yard markers through the snow, and gave the Ravens a first down. Fox's broadcast of the game superimposed the line of scrimmage and a first-down marker on the field, but the graphics juxtaposed on the white snow made players look translucent.
Even as both offenses were able to move the ball more efficiently as conditions improved in the fourth quarter, neither the Vikings nor Ravens were able to find a normal rhythm on the sloppy field. Matt Cassel completed 17 of his 38 passes for 265 yards and two touchdowns, and Joe Flacco went 28-of-50 for 245 yards, but Flacco threw three interceptions and had a fourth called back because of a Vikings penalty that gave the Ravens a chance to score the game-winning touchdown.
"There was one time in New England we played in a snowstorm, but today was as bad as it's ever been (in my career)," Cassel said. "In the first half, everyone was having trouble with their footing, and we were sliding all over the place. The snow let up in the second half, and we were able to run our offense."
Until Toby Gerhart's 41-yard touchdown with 1:45 left, both running games also struggled to do much; Adrian Peterson had just 13 yards on seven carries before he left with a sprained foot, and Ray Rice wound up with 67 yards on 17 carries.
"It was hard to burst right off the bat," Gerhart said. "And I know even for (fullback) Jerome (Felton) and the other guys up front, it was hard. It was one of those 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-snow games for a while. In the second half, they cleared the field quite a bit, and people started making more dynamic plays. It was a tough situation to play in. Tough weather -- football weather, I guess. It was an experience."