Hourlong delay to kickoff forced by cold no issue for Texans

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Houston coach Lovie Smith took a nap, and the Texans simply pushed back their pregame schedule by an hour.

While the Tennessee Titans had little desire to talk about anything other than finding a way to end a skid that now has reached five straight after a 19-14 loss to the Texans on Saturday and not the delay before playing the coldest home game in franchise history.

The extreme cold and power outages in the region forced the delay announced about 90 minutes before kickoff. Smith said he might’ve napped for about 20 minutes after telling his Texans they had an extra hour before getting into their pregame routine.

“Got a little bit more time to get mentally prepared,” Smith said. “We’re not postponing the game. The game is going on, so get ready to go, and that’s what they do.”

When the Texans finally kicked off, the temperature was 20 degrees with the wind chill making it feel like 6 degrees. That made it the coldest home game in Titans history, topping the previous mark of 23 degrees on Dec. 31, 2017. The previous lowest wind chill was 14 degrees on Dec. 25, 2000, against the Dallas Cowboys.

The Titans said the decision to delay was made with the NFL, the local Office of Emergency Management, the Nashville Electric Service and the Mayor’s Office out of “an abundance of caution to ensure that the game would not negatively impact our community in any way.”

The team also said it worked to cut all nonessential power around Nissan Stadium.

“At all times, the operation of the game remained secondary to the well-being of our community and we can’t thank the OEM and NES enough for their dedication to the safety of our neighbors,” the Titans said in a statement.

Nashville Mayor John Cooper wrote on social media asking everyone, especially all nonessential businesses, to cut back their power usage with the Tennessee Valley Authority using rolling blackouts to protect the power grid.

After the delay was announced, Cooper quickly thanked the Titans.

“I appreciate the (at)Titans delaying kickoff for one hour as (at)TVAnews commits to immediately ending the rolling blackouts,” Cooper wrote. “NES continues to work hard to minimize disruption for residents this holiday weekend.”

The TVA said in a statement that the power grid was stabilized an hour before the originally scheduled kickoff and the Titans agreed to delay the game “in order to be absolutely sure that the grid had stabilized.”

Photos of the lights being on all Friday night at Nissan Stadium spread on social media while residents dealt with power outages. After Saturday’s game ended, fewer than 3,000 customers in the Nashville area still had no power, down from approximately 75,000 when outages spiked Friday.

The lights stayed on with crews working throughout the night repairing at least 36 water pipes that burst around the stadium. High winds as the front moved in Thursday night also blew open some windows. A couple of luxury suites remained closed Saturday because of water damage.

The Titans, who fell to 7-8, face a quick turnaround from Saturday’s game. The Dallas Cowboys are scheduled to visit Thursday night.

Workers used blowers to clear light snow from the field around 90 minutes before the previously scheduled 1 p.m. EST kickoff. The Titans covered the field with a tarp and used heaters, including the heated benches used by the team, underneath to keep the ground from freezing.

Houston quarterback Davis Mills said he simply wore an overcoat to the game and knows other NFL games Saturday were played in colder weather.

But this was the coldest game he could recall playing. The biggest challenge was the field itself.

“The field was a little slick, icy at times,” Mills said. “Once the wind picked up, we noticed that, but we were pretty good.”

The NHL’s Nashville Predators lost 3-2 in overtime, to the Colorado Avalanche on Friday night. The team president noted on social media Friday night that the Predators powered their arena with generators. That team recently had a burst water main flood parts of its arena, forcing the postponement of two games.

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