Days before the Arizona Cardinals nearly applied a death blow to Steeler Nation, the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in conjunction with Coors Light, released its list of the 10 coldest games in NFL history. A panel of some of the NFL’s all-time greatest players narrowed their selection down to 10 epic contests.
Let’s take a look at numbers 10 to 6:
#10 – Tampa Bay Buccaneers (27) @ Philadelphia Eagles (10), Jan. 19, 2003
· Temperature: 26 degrees / Wind Chill: 16 degrees
Build Up: The Eagles had the perfect situation heading into the 2002 NFC Championship game. The Floridians headed to the chilly conditions of Philadelphia after numerous poundings by the Eagles since 2000. Having already lost to the Eagles during the regular season at the Vet, Tampa headed to Philly for the third consecutive season to face the Birds in the place. This time, the NFC title was at stake. Clearly, there was no way the Bucs could go to the Vet and win in the final game ever played in that stadium, right? Yeah, about that…
Memorable Moment: With the score 20-10 Tampa, Donovan McNabb tried to rally his teammates and lead a fourth quarter comeback in the final game at venerable Veterans Stadium. In what is the defining moment of the Andy Reid era in Philadelphia thus far, Bucs cornerback Ronde Barber interrupted the comeback by taking an interception 90 yards for a touchdown. Barber’s big play prompted him to say afterwards “Pro Bowl my *** baby, I’m going to San Diego damn it.”
#9 – Tennessee Titans (14) @ New England Patriots, (17), Jan. 10, 2004
· Temperature: 4 degrees / Wind Chill: -10 degrees
Build Up: Tom Brady + Best Patriots Defense during the Belichick era = Home Field Advantage; Steve McNair + physical defense – washed up Eddie George = good team that cannot score quite enough.
Memorable Moment: In bone-chilling temperatures, Adam Vinatieri pulled another rabbit out of the proverbial hat by slamming a 46 yard field goal through the uprights to break a 14 all tie. On a side note, does any coach over the last 10 years have worse luck in the playoffs in close games than Jeff Fisher? We all know what happened in Super Bowl XXXIV; Ray Lewis crushed his dreams in 2000; they got blitzed by Oakland in the ’02 AFC title game; and the loss to the Baltimore in the ’08 playoffs. When his team falls in the playoffs, viewers get their money’s worth.
#8 – Oakland Raiders (17) @ Denver Broncos (20), Jan. 1, 1978
· Temperature: 18 degrees / Wind Chill: N/A
Build Up: The Raiders entered as the defending Super Bowl champions against a Denver team that defeated the mighty Steelers a week earlier.
Memorable Moment: Try mentioning the words “Rob Lytle and fumble” in the same sentence to a hardcore Raiders fan. You may not leave with your body parts in tact. In the game’s critical sequence, Lytle took a handoff, dove towards the goalline and fumbled. Raiders defensive tackle Mike McCoy scooped up the ball took off towards the end zone. Unfortunately for the Raiders, the play was blown dead and the officials claimed Lytle never fumbled. Television replays suggested otherwise (back in the 70s, the instant replay was another decade away from becoming reality). Denver scored on the next play. Oakland eventually fell 20-17. Years later, it was revealed that defensive tackle John Matuszak was bothered not by the cold weather but instead partying a bit too hard a night earlier. The Broncos got word of it and took advantage.
#7 – New York Giants (7) @ Green Bay Packers (16), Dec. 30, 1962
· Temperature: 13 degrees / Wind Chill: N/A
Build Up: Back in 1960, Vince Lombardi’s Packers lost the NFL title to the Eagles. Sir Vincent didn’t take too kindly to this concept of losing title games. In ’61, the Giants and Packers met for the league crown and Green Bay got the best of New York, 37-0 in Lambeau. The rematch was set for Yankee Stadium…but the 13 degree weather made little difference to the Pack.
Memorable Moment: The weather proved to be the game’s defining factor winds up to 40 miles per hour. Jim Taylor scored the game’s lone touchdown for Green Bay; while offensive linemen Jerry Kramer booted three field goals to secure the Pack’s second NFL title.
#6 – Oakland Raiders (13) @ New England Patriots (16), Jan. 19, 2002
· Temperature: 20 degrees / Wind Chill: N/A
Build Up: New England took its inexperienced quarterback into his first playoff game against one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, the Oakland Raiders. In the middle of a snow storm, this slightly above average quarterback would try to lead his team one step closer to its first Super Bowl title. Good luck with that kid.
Memorable Moment: Unless you lived under a rock for the past 10 years, this is known as the “Tuck Rule game” and is mostly noted for the ill-fated call that turned a Tom Brady game-ending fumble eventually into a mystifying game tying field goal and subsequent game winning field goal by Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri. This is the game that got the Patriots dynasty off the launching pad and started to turn that Brady fellow into a star.
Stay tuned for Part II!
Categories: News and Notes