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The coldest playoff games in NFL history

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When the Dolphins and Chiefs meet in the opening round of the playoffs on Saturday night, Arrowhead Stadium will not be an ideal place to watch a game, to say the least. 

The weather conditions for the playoff matchup are expected to be brutally cold, with the temperatures projected to be as cold as minus-6 degrees. Of course, playoff football has been filled with chilly temps over the years, but Saturday’s game could be among the coldest for a playoff game in NFL history.

So, let’s take a look at the coldest playoff games in NFL history. 

Chiefs will host Dolphins in sub-zero temperatures: who wins?

T6. 2013 NFC Wild Card: San Francisco 49ers vs. Green Bay Packers — 3 degrees

The third-coldest playoff game in Lambeau Field’s history, Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers began their playoff quest to get back to the Super Bowl in less-than-ideal conditions. But that didn’t seem to hamper the scoring too much, with the 49ers taking a 13-10 lead going into halftime. Following a scoreless third quarter, both offenses began firing again in the fourth quarter. The 49ers’ defense was able to hold Aaron Rodgers and the Packers to a game-tying field goal in the final minutes before Kaepernick led a 14-play drive that led to Phil Dawson’s game-winning field goal as time expired. That drive was just a part of Kaepernick’s 227 passing yards and 97 rushing yards that day. 

T6. 2003 AFC Divisional Game: Tennessee Titans vs. New England Patriots — 3 degrees

In order to win their second Super Bowl, the Patriots needed to overcome frigid temps in Foxborough. But the cold temps also helped bolster the Patriots’ topscoring defense that season against co-MVP Steve McNair. The Titans quarterback threw for 210 yards, a touchdown and an interception, while Eddie George rushed for just 48 yards on 16 carries. Still, the game was tied late in the fourth quarter before Adam Vinatieri kicked a field goal to put them up, 17-14, with 4:11 remaining. The Titans drove down to the Patriots’ 42 yard-line on the ensuing drive, but McNair’s Hail Mary pass down the field on fourth down was bobbled before falling incomplete. 

5. 1993 AFC Divisional Game: Los Angeles Raiders vs. Buffalo Bills — 0 degrees

The Bills had the weather on their side against the warm-weathered Raiders, but they needed some time to get the win en route to a third straight AFC title. The Raiders held a 17-6 lead at one point in the first half before taking a 17-13 lead going into the break. But the Bills scored three times in just under seven minutes between the third and fourth quarters to take a 29-23 lead. After they took that six-point lead with over 12 minutes left, the Bills were able to force the Raiders’ offense off the field, with their final two drives ending in punts before Buffalo ran the clock out. 

4. 2007 NFC Championship Game: New York Giants vs. Green Bay Packers — minus-4 degrees

The frigid matchup might be remembered on the internet nowadays for how red Giants coach Tom Coughlin’s face got, but it was memorable for many other reasons. After the Giants took an early 6-0 lead, both teams traded scores for much of the game. A Packers field goal early in the fourth quarter tied the game up at 20-20 before Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes missed two field goals later in regulation that forced the game to go to overtime. But Brett Favre committed the game’s biggest blunder, throwing an interception on the second play of overtime that gave the Giants the ball at the Packers’ 34-yard line. The third time was the charm for Tynes, making a 47-yard field goal to send the Giants to the Super Bowl. The interception was Favre’s final pass with the Packers. 

3. 2015 Wild Card: Seattle Seahawks vs. Minnesota Vikings — minus-6 degrees

Since 1982, the Vikings have only played two full seasons of home games in an outdoor venue. Their final game at TCF Bank Stadium wound up being one of the coldest in NFL history. The Vikings were able to use the cold to their advantage for much of the opening-round matchup, holding the two-time defending NFC champs scoreless through three quarters and holding a 9-0 lead early in the fourth quarter. But the Seahawks scored 10 points on two straight possessions, giving them a 10-9 lead. The Vikings had a chance to win the game still, moving the ball deep into Seahawks territory to set up Blair Walsh for a game-winning 27-yard field goal in the final seconds. However, Walsh missed the chip shot field goal wide left, giving the Seahawks the win. 

2. 1981 AFC Championship Game: San Diego Chargers vs. Cincinnati Bengals — minus-9 degrees

Now known as the Freezer Bowl, Dan Fouts and the Chargers were welcomed to Cincinnati in brutally cold temps. And they played like a team that wasn’t prepared to play in the cold, either. The Bengals got out to a quick 10-0 lead. Even after the Chargers scored a touchdown, the Bengals responded with one of their own. The Bengals controlled the game from there, intercepting Fouts twice during their 27-7 win. Later, Kellen Winslow and Ken Anderson said they dealt with the negative effects of playing in the Freezer Bowl several years later.

1. 1967 NFL Championship: Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers — minus-13 degrees

The trip to the first Super Bowl was determined on an icy Lambeau Field. In fact, the Ice Bowl was nearly determined by the ice. Packers running back Donny Anderson slipped on two consecutive carries just short of the goal line as they trailed 17-14 in the game’s final minute. After they called their final timeout on the second-and-goal run, the Packers opted to have Bart Starr run for a QB sneak with 16 seconds left. The risky play worked, with Starr tumbling into the end zone to give the Packers a 21-17 lead and the win.


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