Cold moments: When weather and sports collide
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1. NFL Championship Game
Date: Dec. 31, 1967
Weather: minus 13 degrees with a wind chill of minus 48 at game time; field frozen
What happened: The Packers had installed 14 miles of wiring under the field to keep the turf warm and soft. The wiring failed, but only after it had had enough time to turn snow to water. When the wires cooled off, that water became ice: hence the Ice Bowl, not "The Freakin' Cold Bowl." The Packers beat the Cowboys 21-17 after Green Bay QB Bart Starr sneaked over the line from about a foot away for a touchdown with 13 seconds remaining. Packers coach Vince Lombardi let Starr run the play even though a field goal attempt would have been the less-risky move and likely would have tied the game and sent it into overtime.
Lombardi, a risk taker? No, but something even less likely: Lombardi, the compassionate. Referring to the crowd of 50,861 who'd stuck around Lambeau throughout the frigid afternoon, he said, "I didn't figure all those people could stay on in the stands. You can't say I'm always without compassion." Literary lineman Jerry Kramer said the goal-line turf was "solid like cement."
Here's some more trivia: Q) How was the Packers' D able to figure out, for certain, when Bob Hayes was Don Meredith's primary receiver? A) He took his hands out of his pants at the line of scrimmage. Q) What is the sound of a ref's frozen whistle? A) Silence.
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6. AFC playoffs, Raiders vs. Patriots
Date: Jan. 19, 2002
Weather: 25 degrees, windy, steady driving snow
What happened: The snow accumulated 1½ inches on Jerry Rice's helmet alone, according to one report. So if you don't remember, you can imagine how bad the conditions were in what would become known, in Oakland at least, as the "tuck rule game." Pats fans would see it differently, (and with less originality), calling it "The Snow Bowl."
The key play (which, just a few years ago, ESPN.com ranked as the 48th greatest sports moment of the past 25 years) occurred with 1:43 left, when Raiders corner Charles Woodson chopped the ball from a perhaps-passing Tom Brady, and the Raiders recovered the ball on their own 47, seemingly sealing a 13-10 win. But ref Walt Coleman called it an incomplete pass instead of a fumble, saying Brady's arm was in forward motion when the ball came loose. A few plays later Pats kicker Adam Vinatieri nailed a 45-yarder into the wind to tie the game and send it into OT. Eight minutes and 29 seconds into the extra period, Vinatieri sliced the poles from 23 yards out, and before the announcers could say "on to the AFC title game," long snapper Lonie Paxton was in the end zone, creating a giant snow angel to secure himself a spot on the list of "best celebrations by non-scorers."