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NFL’s 5 Most Memorable Snow Games

Daniel Johnson looks back at the NFL’s most memorable snow games.

LeSean McCoy
LeSean McCoy

Dec 8, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles running back LeSean McCoy (25) scores a touchdown as Detroit Lions cornerback Bill Bentley (28) tries to make a tackle during the fourth quarter at Lincoln Financial Field. Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

While Christmas has already come and gone, the weather outside is still truly frightful for many NFL teams as they enter the playoffs. We’ve already seen some incredible snow-covered games this year and we’re bound to see at least a couple more this postseason, which got us thinking about the most memorable snow games in NFL history. Here are five that immediately came to mind:

Snowplow Game – Patriots vs. Dolphins, 1982

The 1982 regular season match-up between the New England Patriots and Miami Dolphins will be forever etched in NFL lore. Not just because both teams slugged out a scoreless tie for nearly four quarters, but because much of the credit for New England’s 3-0 victory would end up belonging to a single snowplow and its operator, Mark Henderson.

With less than five minutes to play and no sign of the snow letting up at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, Patriots coach Ron Meyer ordered Henderson to clear a spot specifically for a field goal attempt. Despite Miami coach Don Shula’s protest, officials did not intervene when Henderson carried out his orders and John Smith’s 33-yard field goal was good, giving the Pats the 3-0 win. Meyer awarded Henderson a game ball for his efforts, but the incident forced the league to institute a new rule the following season which banned snowplows from being used on the field during games.

Ice Bowl – Cowboys vs. Packers, 1967 NFL Championship

Considered one of the greatest games in NFL history, the “Ice Bowl” was played between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers for the 1967 NFL title on the frozen tundra (literally in this case) of Lambeau Field. There may not have been much, if any snow on the ground, but with a game time temperature of -13 degrees, the NFL’s coldest game ever could not be ignored when compiling this list.

Referees’ whistles froze to their lips, marching band members were treated for frostbite and hypothermia and announcer Frank Gifford’s coffee turned into a brown ice brick, but what people remember most about the “Ice Bowl” is the game itself, and “The Drive” in particular.

Trailing 17-14, the Packers mounted an incredible late fourth-quarter drive down to the one-yard line with just 16 seconds to play. On third-and-goal, Packers quarterback Bart Starr stuffed the ball into the end zone on a keeper to win the game for the Pack, who became the first NFL dynasty with three consecutive championships.

Tuck Rule Game – Raiders vs. Patriots, 2001 AFC Divisional Playoffs

When a controversial call directly affects the outcome of a game, it always makes that game more memorable. When that game occurs in the playoffs, its historical significance is even more magnified. As far as the infamous “Tuck Rule Game” goes, few remember the actual final score (Patriots 16 – Raiders 13), but everyone remembers the heavy snow fall in New England that day, Adam Vinatieri’s 23-yard game-winning field goal and the obscure rule that gave him a chance to make it.

After a Charles Woodson sack stripped Tom Brady of the ball late in the fourth quarter, Raiders linebacker Greg Biekert made the recovery of an apparent fumble that would have sealed a 13-10 win for Oakland. However, after the play was reviewed, officials ruled that Brady threw an incomplete pass, even though he appeared to be tucking the ball back into his body. The rule behind the call, which has since been abolished, stated “any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.”

With new life, the Patriots went on to tie the game with an incredible 45-yard Vinatieri field-goal and cleared enough snow for Vinatieri to make another clutch kick to win it in overtime. The win propelled the Pats on to the AFC title game and an eventual Super Bowl win that season, which would be the first of three championships in four seasons for New England.

Thanksgiving Blunder – Cowboys vs. Dolphins, 1993

We may have already featured this game in our Top 5 Most Memorable Thanksgiving Day Games list, but since this memorable 16-14 Dolphins win was set against a rare snowy backdrop in Dallas, we had no choice but to include it here as well.

The Texas snow would have certainly made this game stand out regardless of the outcome, but Cowboys defensive lineman Leon Lett made this one truly unforgettable, after he mistakenly attempted to recover a blocked field goal, which led to an extra possession for the ‘Phins and another game-winning field goal try. The ensuing Pete Stoyanovich kick was on the money, cementing the game’s place in history as an all-time winter classic.

Snowstorm Shootout – Lions vs. Eagles, 2013

You could argue that the Philadelphia Eagles’ 34-20 win over the Detroit Lions in week 14 is only memorable for now, since it happened just a few weeks ago, but those who witnessed LeSean McCoy enjoy a career-high 217 rushing yard performance in nearly six inches of snow will tell you this game will be remembered for years to come.

In blizzard-like conditions that usually produce low-scoring, grind-it-out games, the Lions and Eagles impressively combined for more than 700 yards of total offense as the score remained close until the final minutes. While Detroit’s high-powered offense struggled to keep up with Philly’s, Lions return specialist Jeremy Ross kept the road team in the game by taking a kickoff and a punt back for touchdowns. Who said a snow flurry couldn’t come with a scoring flurry as well?

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Are there any great snow games that we missed? Let us know which land on your list in the comments.

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