The Frozen Tundra. The Ice Bowl.
Many of the memorable games in NFL history have been played in cold and even frigid weather. The Cowboys-Dolphins game in 1993, famous for Leon Lett’s gaffe which cost Dallas the game was played in the snow. The Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL Championship Game was played in Green Bay where the temperature was 15 degrees below zero and the wind chill was anywhere between 36 and 48 degrees below zero. It’s considered one of the best games in NFL history.
Simply put, NFL football is made for the cold weather.
Look at this past season in the NFL. We had two games that were really good games despite the frigid temps. First there was the “Snow Bowl” on Dec. 8 between the Detroit Lions and Philadelphia Eagles, which was played in a blizzard. Detroit took the earlier lead, but Philadelphia, behind running back LeSean McCoy, managed to comeback with 28 points in the fourth quarter alone for a 34-20 win.
But watching that game being played in at least six inches of snow was incredible to be honest. It become a backyard game, similar to what kids would play at home when it’s snowing. That was fun to watch.
Then there’s the freezing cold game this past weekend in Green Bay between San Francisco and Green Bay. It wasn’t quite as cold as that Ice Bowl–the temp for this game being five degrees at kickoff with a wind chill at 10 below–but it was still cold anyway you draw it up. And this game turned out to be a great, back-and-forth game fans want in the playoffs. The 49ers and Packers traded the lead and momentum a lot in that final half with San Fran producing a great drive at the end to win the game.
One of the best parts of cold weather games is the fact that it levels the playing field. A team, like the New Orleans Saints for example, may come in as a high-powered passing offense, but with cold weather and possible snow, they can run what they’re comfortable running and so the advantage slips to the defense. But then with the poor footing, the advantage slips back to the offense since those players know where they are going. Weather is the great equalizer.
Now I know there are always those people that are against games being played in the cold and snow and it does slow the game down a lot in those conditions, but they’re exciting games nonetheless. They’re so rare these days that it’s worth that small price to pay to watch one of these games.
Football was originally built to be a running game–it’s modeled off of rugby. And while the forward pass has become a big, big part of the game nowadays, cold weather games bring the game back to those roots and produce good, exciting games.