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Weather delays Ravens-Bears game

CHICAGO -- Officials delayed Sunday's game between the Baltimore Ravens and Chicago Bears for nearly two hours at Soldier Field after severe weather put a stop to play with 4:51 remaining in the first quarter.

The National Weather Service issued a tornado watch, severe thunderstorm and flash-flood warnings for the downtown Chicago area, effective until 3:30 p.m. local time.

The Ravens owned a 10-0 lead at approximately 12:30 p.m. local time when stadium announcers asked fans to start heading for shelter.

One hour and 45 minutes later, officials at the stadium announced fans could start returning to their seats, while players were allowed to return to the field for a 10-minute warm-up.

Play resumed at 2:25 p.m. local time and the Bears went on to win 23-20 in overtime.

The delay was extended multiple times due to a second line of storms entering the area.

A tornado reportedly touched down near Coal City, Ill., which is 65 miles from Chicago, according to Chicago's ABC affiliate. A tornado also was confirmed in southern LaSalle County -- located approximately 100 miles southwest of Chicago.

In Peoria, Ill., the St. Francis Medical Center also told the station there were 24 patients being treated for storm-related injuries, according to ABCNews.com.

After the game, players sent well wishes to those affected by the weather.

"I want to let the people out, especially in Peoria, know we're thinking about them," Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall said after the game. "It's not all about football. What happened today with the weather, you can't control. But we can control what we do moving forward. They're in our thoughts. We're praying for them. We just pray that's it's not as bad as it looks."

"Hopefully we can make a difference in the community with the things that happened," Bears tight end Martellus Bennett said.

Prior to the start of the game, the National Weather Service warned that Chicago and other areas of the Midwest could be affected by dangerous weather on Sunday, placing parts of seven states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin) under a tornado watch. Other states in the region faced a wind advisory.

Forecasters expected the possibility of tornadoes, large hail and strong wind gusts, some of which were expected to reach approximately 80 mph.

Leading into the game, officials at the stadium had already removed some of the tents around Soldier Field, as well as some signs.