The Dolphins hoped the weather would play a factor Sunday.
Just not this way.
The officials twice suspended Sunday’s Titans-Dolphins affair due to a lightning strike within a mile of the stadium. The first stoppage was with 1:11 left in the first half. The second came with 6:47 to go in the third quarter.
It was the NFL’s second such delay already this season; the start of the Eagles-Falcons game was also delayed due to electricity.
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The league hoped to end the first delay at 3:10 p.m., then 3:32, and then 3:40, but more close strikes kept pushing it back. Dolphins and Titans players began filtering back onto the field at 3:57 — right when the rest of the league’s 1 p.m. game were wrapping up. The official restart time was 4:10 p.m., so the delay was one hour, 57 minutes.
The teams finished the first half, took a 3-minute, 30-second break at halftime (players remained on the field) and then began the third quarter.
The second delay came at 4:53 p.m. The players took the field for the third time at 6:40, with the game resuming at 6:55. The Dolphins allowed upper-level ticket holders to move down to the lower bowl for the rest of the game.
While rare, such delays are not unheard of.
Dolphins coach Adam Gase has had to deal with weather twice in his three seasons as Miami’s coach.
“I want to say that might have happened to us in 2013 when we played in that Thursday night game opener against Baltimore,” Gase said last week. “We waited for a while. You just try to keep guys loose and you try to organize. When you get a start time, then you start working backwards and just really get your warmup set.”
When asked if it was a distraction, Gase responded: “I mean, you’re just ready to go. You’re just delaying something that you’ve been waiting for since last season.”
As for factors not beyond the Dolphins’ control? The playing surface has held up well despite Hard Rock Stadium being used a third time in as many days.
In fact, the sod — which was the subject of much attention after some rough games last year — was in such good condition that Dolphins CEO Tom Garfinkel felt comfortable taking a victory lap on social media.
“All of you horticulturist/sod experts out there... can we let it rest now? #howsthefield?” Garfinkel tweeted.
He continued: “Grounds crew put in new field for Raves game after Taylor Swift. Took it out and put in new field last Tuesday after JayZ. Worked until 6am friday night and until 4am last night. They bust their butts and do a great job.”