WINNIPEG, Manitoba — After his team’s 22-21 victory over the Packers Thursday night, Raiders coach Jon Gruden said the condition of the turf in the end zones at IG Field in Winnipeg that led to shortening the field was of no concern to him.
“The field, I don’t know what that was all about,” Gruden said. “We thought the field was perfectly fine.”
Still, the decision to play the game between the 10-yard lines turned what was supposed to be a regular preseason game into an unusual night north of the border.
A patch in each end zone called into question the safety of the turf at IG Field in Winnipeg.
Packers, Raiders and league officials were discussing the conditions nearly until kickoff. The official word that the field would be shortened came from the stadium’s PA announcer following the coin toss.
The 10-yard lines served as the goal lines on the 80-yard field, keeping the players away from the end zones and their patches of turf.
It appeared the Packers were more concerned with the conditions than the Raiders before kickoff, with multiple team officials huddled around the square in the middle of one end zone throughout pregame warmups. After the game, Gruden said the concerns were all from Green Bay.
The oddity even messed with bettors, who had little time to react to the news before the first snap. Several sportsbook directors told the Las Vegas Review-Journal they had no specific rules posted for an adjusted field length, meaning all bets made before the announcement stood as wagered. The Westgate sportsbook moved the total from 37.5 to 40.5 when the decision was announced, but there was very little time for bettors to play the adjusted number.
Daniel Carlson’s 33-yard game-winning field goal with eight seconds remaining pushed the combined points to 43.
The broken turf came from removing the Canadian Football League’s goalposts, which sit in the middle of the end zone — as opposed to the NFL’s, which sit behind it. While the NFL and NFLPA had approved use of the field, the Packers were apparently not satisfied with the quality of the patches.
A league statement read in part, “The field met the mandatory practices for the maintenance of surfaces for NFL games based on an inspection yesterday. Concerns arose today surrounding the area where the Blue Bombers’ goalposts were previously located.”
Gruden said, other than missing kickoffs, the unusual field dimensions won’t change the way the Raiders evaluate the tape.
■ As expected, the Raiders did not play their starters in the matchup with the Packers. However, wide receiver Antonio Brown did go through pregame warmups — with a helmet on — along with the rest of the starting group. Expected starting OLB Brandon Marshall got some snaps and recorded a tackle.
■ The Raiders had three sacks in the third quarter Thursday night, giving the club six in the last two weeks. It’s preseason, yes, but it’s still worth mentioning the Raiders had a league-low 13 sacks in the entirety of the 2018 season.
■ Strangely enough, Thursday’s contest wasn’t the first NFL game played with an 80-yard field. Back in 1932, the Portsmouth Spartans and Chicago Bears played a playoff game on a shortened field indoors to combat inclement weather and frigid temperatures.