No snow days for the NFL

The Ice Bowl in 1967
The Ice Bowl in 1967

It was the second weekend of December, and when it comes to the weather anything can happen in a northern climate and have an effect on a football game. And it did.

The Week 14 over-time “snow-globe” game saw the hometown Buffalo Bills outlast the Indianapolis Colts by a score of 13-7. It was a game of field position that found Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri literally putting English on his kicks as an adjustment to the wind. But to no avail, as two of those kicks missed the uprights in the high winds and snow. When it was all over, the victorious Bills were making snow angels on the field.

Snow is nothing new to football. About the only weather event that can postpone the action in a football game is lightening. But snow, while limiting the mobility of the players, adds a value of entertainment for the fans watching on TV. The game slows down and with it so does the action. There isn’t a football fan out there who doesn’t enjoy a snow game.

The Bills/Colts shootout in the snow will go down in history. It joins the infamous “snowplow” game between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins in 1982. In that game, a grounds crew worker for the Patriots, who happened to be a felon on a work release, came out on the field with a snowplow and cleared a spot for Pat’s kicker John Smith to kick the game winning field goal and give New England a 3-0 victory.

It was also in New England back in 2001, and in the snow, where the legend to Tom Brady perhaps began. That was the now famous “tuck rule” playoff game when Brady and the Pat’s beat the Oakland Raiders 16-13 in overtime (on a Vinatieri kick).

Snow isn’t the only weather that has impacted postseason football. In 1988, the “Fog Bowl” was played at Soldier Field in Chicago when MIke Ditka’s Bears beat archrival Buddy Ryan’s Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 20-12 in thick fog where receivers could not even see the ball at times.

And of course, there’s the “Ice Bowl,” the 1967 NFL Championship game at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field when Bart Starr orchestrated a game winning quarterback sneak to beat the Dallas Cowboys. The game time temperature was -15 degrees Fahrenheit and the wind chill measured -48 degrees Fahrenheit. To this day it’s considered one of the best games ever played.

The NFL’s Wild Card round of the playoffs will commence on Sunday, Jan. 7, with the divisional rounds taking place next weekend. With cities like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Foxboro, Mass., and Minneapolis potentially hosting football games, we’ll have to wait and see what Mother Nature delivers.

Dan Ladd

Dan Ladd

Dan Ladd is a freelance sports writer who works out of Gracenote’s Queensbury, NY office.

dladd has 280 posts and counting.See all posts by dladd

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