5 of the Most Fantastic NFL Snow Games
One of the many things that makes the NFL such a compelling sport to watch is the tenet that the game should be played seemingly no matter the weather conditions. Whether it’s 100 degrees and sunny or below freezing and snowing, the warriors of the gridiron compete to the best of their ability for our entertainment.
Perhaps the most compelling games to watch for the neutral viewer are snow games. Earlier this month, Mother Nature provided us with some must-see viewing as the Buffalo Bills faced off against the Indianapolis Colts as several inches of lake-effect snow came down without interruption. In honor of one of the most entertaining games of the year being played in a “winter wonderland,” we’ve gone through and compiled five of the most fantastic snow games in NFL history.
Chicago Cardinals @ Philadelphia Eagles
“The Philly Blizzard” // December 19, 1948
The first game on our list is the 1948 NFL Championship Game, which was held in the old Shibe Park in Philadelphia between the Chicago Cardinals and the hometown Philadelphia Eagles. The game was the first NFL championship game to be televised, and the viewers at home were in for a treat as the game was played despite their being four inches of snow accumulation. Then Commissioner Bert Bell wanted to postpone the game but both teams were crazy enough to want to play in the snow. The game itself was a low-scoring slobber knocker as the Eagles won 7-0 thanks to a fourth-quarter fumble recovery. Interestingly enough, the Cardinals franchise would not appear in another NFL Championship game again until 2009.
Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
“The Ice Bowl” // December 31, 1967
Although it technically didn’t snow during the Ice Bowl, it’s considered to be one of the most famous football games of all time so we’re bending the rules and including it on our list. The 1967 NFL Championship game was played at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, where the game-time temperature was -15 °F with a wind chill of -48 °F. It was so cold on that December afternoon that the officials were unable to use their metal whistles because if they tried to blow on their whistle, their lips would freeze to the metal. Ouch.
The game itself turned out to be an instant classic as the Packers were able to score the game-winning touchdown with just 13 seconds left on a Bart Starr quarterback keeper. The 1967 Championship win would be the last in the storied career of Vince Lombardi, as he stepped down as the team’s coach at the end of the season.
Miami Dolphins @ New England Patriots
“The Snowplow Game” // December 12, 1982
The third entry on our list has a special place in New England Patriots lore, even after the team’s five Super Bowl victories in the Belichick-Brady regime. Week 6 of the 1982 season pitted the Patriots against division rival Miami at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, where heavy rains the night before had soaked through the Astroturf at the Stadium.
On the day of the game itself, a huge snowstorm made its way across the area, which made it tough for the two teams to muster any offense whatsoever. The Patriots were setting up for a go-ahead field goal with just over four minutes to go in the game, as the teams were deadlocked at 0-0.
Patriots coach Ron Meyer ordered local snowplow operator Mark Henderson –who was out of jail on a work-release program– to drive onto the field and clear a spot for the kicker, John Smith. The Patriots made the kick and won the game 3-0. Dolphins coach Don Shula appealed to the league that what the Patriots did was an unfair advantage but Commissioner Pete Rozelle declined to reverse the result of the game.
Miami Dolphins @ Dallas Cowboys
“Leon Lett’s Second Folly” // Thanksgiving, 1993
Our fourth entry on our list brings us to Dallas, TX, where the Cowboys and Dolphins dueled in an All-Time classic game on Thanksgiving of 1993. If you thought that having snow in Dallas in November was crazy, wait till you see how the game ended!
After a back-and-forth game, the Dolphins trailed by one point with just a few seconds left on the clock, and their field goal try was blocked by the Cowboys – who only needed to refrain from touching the ball in order to realistically win the game. Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett inexplicably slid onto the ball and fumbled it, allowing the Dolphins to recover the ball and attempt another game-winning field goal, which they made.
Oakland Raiders @ New England Patriots
“The Tuck Game” // January 19, 2002
Our final entry, and perhaps the most memorable snow game in recent NFL history is the last game from the old Foxborough Stadium when the Patriots defeated the Raiders in the 2001 AFC Divisional Round thanks to an obscure rule carried out by the officials.
On a chilly, 25°F night in Massachusetts, the Patriots and Raiders squared off in a thrilling affair, which saw the field blanketed in snow for most of the evening. With less than two minutes to go in the game, the Patriots trailed by three points. The Raiders dialed up a fantastic defensive play-call which saw cornerback Charles Woodson sack Tom Brady, and it appeared as though the New England quarterback fumbled the ball – which was subsequently covered up by the Raiders.
However, the officials ruled that Brady’s arm was moving forward when he was being hit and thus the result of the play was an incomplete pass. The Patriots eventually tied the game with just a minute to go and won in overtime. This win was the launching point for the franchise’s dynasty years, as they went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI thanks in part to the controversial decision against the Raiders.
(Cropped image courtesy of the Iowa Digital Library via Flickr.)