Cold moments: When weather and sports collide
AP Photo/Mike Kullen
3. "The Snowplow Game" -- Miami at New England
Date: Dec. 12, 1982
Weather: Heavy snow, 20 degrees, wind gusts up to 30 mph
What happened: The weather was so bad that notoriously hardy Pats fans stayed home in droves, helping to set an all-time regular-season Schaefer Stadium attendance low of 25,716. Mark Henderson, a convicted burglar operating a sideline snowplow while out on work release, earned absolution for his sins in the minds of New Englanders when he cleared a nice, dry spot in the deep snow for Pats kicker John Smith, who quickly banged home a 33-yarder against the wind with 4:45 remaining for the lone score in the game. How can anyone be sure the snowplow made the difference? Smith, who'd missed an 18-yarder earlier, said "The traction was despicable." Dolphins kicker Uwe von Schamann had also missed a 45-yard chance earlier in the game. Henderson's boffo quip when later asked about the propriety of plowing for the Pats: "What are they gonna do, throw me in jail?"
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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."