Best bad-weather games

18

January

Icebowl2_5 The forecast for Sunday’s AFC Championship Game in Foxboro, Mass. is cold. The forecast for the evening’s NFC hampionship Game in Green Bay is really cold. We could see single-digit temperatures in both games. We might see a little snow, too. This on the heels of last week’s winter wonderland in Green Bay.

So to get you warmed up, so to speak, for the games, we look back at some of the worst weather conditions in NFL history.


The Ice Bowl
Dallas at Green Bay
Dec. 31, 1967

Still the coldest game in NFL history. Game time temperature was minus-13. Throw in the wind and it felt like minus-48 degrees. Several players suffered frostbite. Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith was hospitalized after for pneumonia. The marching band couldn’t play because the instruments froze. Officials’ lips stuck to the whistles, which didn’t work after the opening kickoff anyway. On top of all that, it was a classic game with the Packers winning the NFL Championship, 21-17, on Bart Starr’s 1-yard sneak with 16 seconds left. And it all happened on, literally, the frozen tundra of legendary Lambeau Field.

The Freezer Bowl
San Diego at Cincinnati
Jan. 10, 1982

Just a week after surviving an overtime thriller in steamy Miami in the Kellen Winslow game, the Chargers had to go to the other extreme in Cincinnati. The temperature at kickoff was minus-9. Winds howled at 35 mph, making it feel, at times, like 59-below-zero. By the way, Bengals coach Forrest Gregg played in the Ice Bowl as an offensive lineman for the Packers. Whether he had any advice or not, it was his Bengals who won this AFC Championship matchup in a game that was fairly well-played considering the conditions. Well, well-played by the Bengals, who easily advanced to the Super Bowl with a 27-7 victory.

The Fog Bowl
Philadelphia at Chicago
Dec. 31, 1988

When this playoff game started, all was normal. But in the second quarter, a dense fog rolled into Soldier Field, cutting visibility down to a mere 10 to 20 yards. Players claimed they couldn’t see the first down markers or even the sidelines. Fans had no chance of knowing what was going on and whether to cheer or boo. Television cameras were virtually useless and the network was reduced to trying to cover the game with roaming field cameras. Announcers guessed at what was going on. The fog didn’t stop the Eagles from moving the ball. Quarterback Randall Cunningham threw for 407 yards, but the Eagles couldn’t score a touchdown and lost to the Bears, 20-12.

Brady_2 The Tuck Rule Game
Oakland at New England
Jan. 19, 2002

This playoff game is often best remembered for an apparent Tom Brady fumble that was ruled not a fumble, thus allowing the Patriots to continue their drive and kick a game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime. The Pats then won on another Adam Vinatieri field goal. But what is often forgotten is the game was played in a blizzard. The field was covered in four inches of a snow — all of which fell during the game — making Vinatieri’s 45-yard tying field goal and his 23-yard winner all the more impressive.

The Snowplow Game
Miami at New England
Dec. 12, 1982

Once again, Foxboro was the sight for one of football’s legendary snow games. Neither the Dolphins nor Patriots could score because of the heavy snow being dumped on the field. New England finally moved into field goal position late in the fourth quarter, but the conditions made it nearly impossible to kick. Snowplows were used to clear off every five yards, but that’s when Pats coach Ron Meyer ordered a prisoner on work release plowing the field to veer off course and he did — clearing a perfect patch for kicker John Smith to attempt a 33-yard field goal. Miami coach Don Shula went nuts, but the snowplow driver cracked, “What are they going to do, throw me in jail?’’ Smith made the field goal and the Pats won by that 3-0 score.

The Rain Game
Kansas City at Tampa Bay
Dec. 16, 1979

With four weeks left in the season, all the Bucs — in only their fourth year of existence — needed to make the playoffs for the first time was a victory or a Bears loss. What followed was three straight losses and three straight Chicago victories. That left a final week showdown against the 7-8 Kansas City Chiefs ... and the weather. A classic Florida torrential downpour turned Tampa Stadium into swamp. Rain water poured down the steps of the stadium like waterfalls. The Bucs scored the only points of the game on a 19-yard field goal by Neil O’Donoghue with 8:50 left and won their division title.

Red Right 88 Game
Oakland at Cleveland
Jan. 4, 1981

The AFC Championship started with a game-time temperature of 4 degrees, making it the coldest game since the famed Ice Bowl game in 1967. Trailing 14-12 and only needing a field goal to win, the Browns appeared on their way to reaching their first Super Bowl as they drove deep into Oakland territory. But nervous because kicker Don Crockett had missed two field goals and had an extra point blocked, the Browns tried to score a TD, opting to throw the ball on a play called Red Right 88. Brian Sipe’s pass was intercepted in the end zone by Oakland’s Mike Davis with 41 seconds left, preserving Oakland’s victory and crushing the Browns’ dreams.

The Mud Bowl
San Francisco at Green Bay
Jan. 14, 1997

Of all the bad-weather games, the weather might have affected play more than any. First, there was rain, turning the field into a slip-and-slide. Then it turned to snow. Then back to rain. Then back to snow. By the fourth quarter, the field was a half-frozen, half-slushy mess. Despite their high-powered offenses, the Packers managed only 210 yards of offense, while the 49ers had 196. Green Bay jumped out to a 21-0 lead then cruised to a 35-14 victory.

Snow The Snowman Game
Buffalo at Cleveland
Dec. 16, 2007

Why is it called the Snowman Game? Well, for starters, there was enough snow in Cleveland last month to make a snowman as a wintry mix of snow and wind blew off Lake Erie and plowed over Browns Stadium. And it was that snow that held down the offenses. Cleveland won 8-0. Get it? 8 looks like a snowman. “When you’re a kid, you dream of playing in a game like this,” Browns wide receiver Joe Jurevicius, who grew up just east of Cleveland, said. “Today was the Turkey Bowl or the Christmas Bowl in the backyard, when you’re wiping snow out of your eyes.’’

The Snowball Game
Seattle at Green Bay
Jan. 12, 2008

Yep, this was just last week as the Packers wiped out a 14-0 deficit and wiped out the Seahawks, 42-20. It was one of those games you love to watch — from the comfort of your cozy and warm living room. The game started with a light snow. Then a noticeable snow. Then snow so hard that it looked like giants bugs attacking the cameras. The prevailing memory from this game was and will always be quarterback Brett Favre playing as if he were 10 years young and acting even younger than that by scooping up a snowball and throwing it at a teammate after a touchdown. And, of course, it was only appropriate that it happened at legendary Lambeau Field.

[Last modified: Monday, June 14, 2010 3:41pm]

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