Rain dampens chances to win

Ravens struggle in poor weather

conditions likely to be wet Sunday


Ravens Weekend

December 14, 2007|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN REPORTER

The best way to forecast the Ravens' game against the winless Miami Dolphins might be to check the weather forecast.

There is a 50 percent chance of rain at Dolphin Stadium on Sunday, which could leave the Ravens on poor footing.

Over the years, the Ravens seemingly have been one of the worst teams playing in weather-affected games.

Two of the Ravens' roughest games this season - their losses at Pittsburgh (38-7) and against the Indianapolis Colts (44-20) - have been their wettest. Those games happen to be the ones in which the Ravens didn't have their first-string cornerbacks, but this trend extends beyond injuries.

Last season, the Ravens scored one touchdown in two rainy games (at Denver and at Cincinnati). In 2005, they produced two field goals during a downpour at Chicago and committed three turnovers at a soaked Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati.

When coach Brian Billick has been asked about how weather affects his team, he basically shrugs off the assertion that the Ravens can't play in the rain. His stance is that good teams play well whether it's wet or they're on the road, and bad teams simply don't.

But that's not the case. Some of the Ravens' best teams have slipped in the rain.

The Ravens' first loss in their 2000 Super Bowl season came during a storm in Miami, and two of the Ravens' three regular-season losses last season occurred in rainy games.

There are three possibilities for the Ravens' struggles with the weather.

It could be coincidence that they play poorly when it rains. Or it could be that most of the rain games have come on the road, where the Ravens traditionally stumble. Or it could be the Ravens' practice habits.

Billick prefers to keep his players fresh during the week and doesn't want to wear them out mentally or physically by practicing in inclement weather. Even during the damp afternoons this week, the Ravens have practiced in their indoor facility rather than on a grass field outside.

The biggest problem in wet weather has been turnovers. In their past seven games in rain, they have fumbled nine times and have thrown 11 interceptions.

The Ravens will need to keep a tight grip on the ball Sunday in South Florida. One Miami weather analyst estimates a 62 percent chance of rain at game time with heavy rain possible.

This could be the time for the Ravens to skip working out at the indoor facility and brave the weather for at least today. It seems as if it would be worth the risk to slip in practice instead of falling to the Dolphins on Sunday.


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