I’m always been fascinated by NFL football games played in wintry conditions.
Skiing and ice skating were meant to be contested in winter weather, but not football.
But when I watched Sunday’s NFL game between the Detroit Lions and the Philadelphia Eagles, I was transfixed.
Heavy snowfall fell during the game, creating amazing images and constant challenges for the players and officials. There were a minimum of holding and blocking penalties called and replay challenges were pure guesswork.
There is always an element of unpredictability with NFL football, more so in wintry conditions. Sure enough, a snap from the Detroit center flew past quarterback Matt Stafford. Several passes were dropped. The ball carriers faced a constant challenge to make sure they could secure the football.
I was amazed by how well the receivers and runners maintained their balance in the snowy conditions. Philadelphia’s LeSean McCoy used short, choppy steps to rush for a franchise record 217 yards. He scored on 40 and 57-yard runs.
Detroit returner Jeremy Ross also enjoyed the wintry field conditions. He returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown and a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. But Detroit lost because the Lions lost three fumbles, two deep inside Eagle territory.
It was fun, an experience I’d love to relive when Super Bowl XLVIII is played as the first outdoor Super Bowl at a cold-weather site Feb. 2, 2014, at the MetLife Stadium shared by the Giants and Jets in East Rutherford, N.J.
Sunday’s wintry weather in Philadelphia was forecast to be a light dusting of snow.
That illustrates the difficulty of predicting the precise weather a few hours ahead, let alone months in advance.
Fast forward to Super Bowl XLVIII scheduled in New Jersey, the first cold weather site.
Farmers’ Almanac’s prediction for New Jersey for Feb. 2, 2014 by Editor Pete Geiger is, “An intense storm, heavy rain, snow and strong winds. This could seriously impact Super Bowl XLVIII. This is going to be one for the ages.”
I’m hoping for some snow to make things interesting. But I’m betting on average weather for New Jersey — cold and dry.
The National Weather Service reports the average high in nearby Newark, N.J. for Feb. 2 is 40 degrees and the low is 24. The average precipitation on that date is one-eighth of an inch.
The record low for a Super Bowl kickoff is 39 degrees when Dallas beat Miami in January 1972 at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans. When Green Bay and Pittsburgh played at Cowboys Stadium in February 2011, snow and ice created havoc for pregame activities.
The worst Super Bowl weather occurred in February 2007 at Miami when Indianapolis and Chicago committed four turnovers in a first quarter rainstorm.
The Super Bowl fans will be prepared for the cold temperatures.
Peggy Beisel-McIlwaine watched the historic Ice Bowl — the 1967 NFL championship between Green Bay and Dallas at Lambeau Field when the temperature was minus-13 degrees with chill temperatures of minus 40.
Her recommended outfit — “Cashmere, fleece and down and, of course, Ugg boots.”