A Look Back at a classic. The “Ice Bowl” in 1967 Between the Packers and Cowboys.

Ice Bowl

Ice Bowl

When Dallas plays the Packers Sunday in a divisional playoff game at Green Bay, the game time temperatures is expected to be about 21 degrees. Whoever you give credit for being in charge of the weather, evidently likes the Cowboys because it could have been much colder. Just days ago the high temperature was around 0 degrees but that’s actually not bad compared to the 1967 title game between the teams known as the “Ice Bowl”.

The NFC championship game between the Cowboys and Packers played on the last day of the year in 1967, was played at a game temperature of minus 15 degrees and that does not include a very sharp wind chill. At that time, the NFC Championship was actually viewed as a bigger game than the Super Bowl that followed against a lesser AFC opponent.

“Frozen Tundra”
The term “frozen tundra” was a quite accurate description of the playing field since a $80,000 underground coil electric heating system by GE, malfunctioned that day. Many may think it was called the Ice Bowl because of the frigid temperature on that day but the ground was actually frozen ice. The field had been covered with a tarp but when it was removed, the condensation froze immediately without the heated coils. They were literally playing on a layer of ice.

Cowboy fullback Walt Garrison described the frozen playing surface as, “harder than Chinese arithmetic.” Well that sounds pretty dang hard to me.

Some have speculated that Packers coach Vince Lombardi, for whom the super bowl trophy has its name, may have wanted the heat to malfunction to negate the Cowboys clear speed advantage since Dallas had a sprinter turned wide receiver, known as “Bullet” Bob Hayes. Conspiracy theories popped up with one Cowboy player saying after the game on the long flight home, “That (blank) Lombardi — he turned off the machine.”

The Refs:
It was so cold that when an official tried to blow his whistle to start the game his lips froze instantly to the whistle and his lip was cut when he removed it. Eventually the officials abandoned the use of whistles that game, and had to use voice commands.

The Most Famous QB Sneak in the history of football:
The Packers trailed late in the game and put together a late drive that gave them a first and goal at the one. On the first two run attempts, the Packer running back Donnie Anderson slipped on the field for no gain.

Facing third down, the Packers called a time out and QB Bart Starr went over to discuss the play call with coach Lombardi. Many may think the legendary coach was the one who called the play however it was Starr who suggested he push it in on a QB sneak since the surface was so slick.

As the temperature¬†fell to -20, Starr says that a frigid Lombardi simply replied, “”Run it, and let’s get the hell out of here!” Starr has said that he was laughing as he returned to the huddle.

Starr sneaked the ball over the goal line as Cowboy defensive linemen like Jethro Pugh, struggled in vain to gain any footing. A championship decided by what may be the most mundane play in all of football, the QB sneak.

The Packers went on to win another super bowl after that game.

So while it will be cold Sunday when these two teams play,¬†conditions will not quite live up to the title of “Ice Bowl II”. After that tough 1967 loss, Cowboys owner Clint Murchison stated, “The day wasn’t too cold if you won.” That may be the case on Sunday too.

This Dallas Cowboys Team Has Each Other’s Back

redskinsThere are two plays that stand out in my mind after the Redskins game that tell me this 2014 Cowboys team is quite different from the 2013 team. And the plays weren’t plays where the Cowboys scored in fact, one of them was actually when the Redskins scored.

First allow me to point to the team last year. Last season against the Saints, there was a kick return where Dwayne Harris was clearly shoved late out of bounds by Kevin Reddick which resulted in Harris being injured on the Saints sideline. The play surprisingly didn’t draw a flag but did result in a fine from the NFL after the play was reviewed. It was disappointing that none of Harris’ teammates showed up to let the Saints know that kind of play wouldn’t be tolerated. They went on to lose that game.

After the game, I called out Harris’s teammates in a blog, for not coming to his defense after a dirty shot from the other team and I interpreted it as disturbing sign this team was not united. I keep it real here and sometimes tell fans things they don’t want to hear but need to hear.

It may be old school, but I believe that when teammates care about each other and are willing to fight for each other, you have a team that is ready to accomplish something big. I did not see that in 2013 but I sure did see it on display in the final game of the 2014 regular season against the Redskins Sunday.

Here are the two stars of the game as far as I’m concerned:
1. WR Terrance Williams:
After catching a pass, wide receiver Cole Beasley was tackled by the face mask and I do mean the defender completely dragged him down. VIDEO A play that could have easily resulted in injury but fortunately didn’t.

The play did draw a 15 yard penalty on Redskin CB E.J. Biggers but for WR Terrance Williams, a clear statement in team unity needed to be made as he came over ready to go to battle and defend his teammate Beasley. I loved it.

2. CB Orlando Scandrick:
Late in the game, QB Robert Griffin ran a TD for the Redskins but in the endzone a late and unnecessary blind side block was thrown by Redskin receiver Pierre Garcon on Cowboy LB Kyle Wilber. Dallas CB Orlando Scandrick stepped up for his teammate and it resulted in a bit of a shoving match between the two teams. VIDEO

Again I was proud of Scandrick for letting the Redskins and any other NFL team know for that matter, these Cowboys are together.

Some will criticize the actions of Williams and especially Scandrick but for me, it’s what I would expect from teammates that are going into battle together. Two plays that may easily be over looked as insignificant but it’s a sign that these Cowboys are a united team and that could make them dangerous in the post season.

A clear message was sent to the Redskins but perhaps also to playoff opponent Detroit Lions and their dirty player poster child N-DAM-U KONG Suh, don’t bring that garbage to Dallas because these Cowboys have each other’s backs!

FINAL 2014 NFL POWER RANKINGS: Ravens and Panthers in the Tournament

NFLTeams

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

This week the top 8 teams consist of the four NFC and four AFC teams that I expect to still be standing after the first round of playoffs next week. Teams 9-12 are the teams that I think will lose in the wildcard round.

Eight of the teams that I had in the top 12 for week one this season, made it into the post season. Biggest surprises for me were how far the Saints fell and I must admit the Steelers and Cowboys were better than I expected.

Week 18 Change
1. Patriots (12-4) 0
2. Seahawks (12-4) 0
3. Broncos (12-4) 0
4. Packers (12-4) 0
5. Cowboys (12-4) +1
6. Steelers (11-5) +1
7. Colts (11-5) +1
8. Panthers (7-8-1) +12
9. Lions (11-5) -4
10. Cardinals (11-5) -1
11. Bengals (10-5-1) -1
12. Ravens (10-6) +1
13. Eagles (10-6) +1
14. Texans (9-7) +1
15. Chiefs (9-7) +1
16 Chargers (9-7) -5
17. Bills (9-7) +1
18. 49ers (8-8) +1
19. Dolphins (8-8) -2
20. Saints (7-9) -4
21. Vikings (7-9) +4
22. Browns (7-9) -1
23. Falcons (6-10) -11
24. Rams (6-10) -1
25 Giants (6-10) -3
26. Bears (5-11) 0
27. Jets (4-12) +1
28. Redskins (4-12) -1
29. Jaguars (3-13) 0
30. Raiders (3-13) 0
31. Titans (2-14) +1
32. Bucs (2-14) -1

2014 NFL Power Rankings Week 17: Seahawks With Late Surge

NFLTeams
The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

12 in The “Tournament”
Coach Parcells referred to the playoffs as a tournament and I think it’s a good description. All 12 teams haven’t all been determined yet so there is a lot at stake in some of the games next week.

The Lions hold the edge in the NFC north however, I believe the Packers will win at home against the Lions Sunday to take the division and gain a first round bye. My rankings reflect that prediction.

The Falcons play the Panthers for a winner take the division game and while the Panthers have a slight edge, I think the Falcons who have already defeated the Panthers, will win at home. That’s why I have the Falcons at 12 and in the tournament.

The defending champs Seahawks are currently one of the hottest teams in the NFL winning 5 straight and the road to the super bowl is looking like it will go through Seattle once again. That’s not good news for the other NFC teams.

No play in game for Dallas this year as they clinch the division title by rolling up a Colts team who didn’t appear to be into it at all.

With a loss to the Texans, the Ravens fell from the top 12 and allowed the Chargers back in the picture.

Week 17 Change
1. Patriots (12-3) 0
2. Seahawks (11-4) +2
3. Broncos (11-4) 0
4. Packers (11-4) +1
5. Lions (11-4) +1
6. Cowboys (11-4) +2
7. Steelers (10-5) +2
8. Colts (10-5) -1
9. Cardinals (11-4) -7
10. Bengals (10-4-1) 0
11. Chargers (9-6) +4
12. Falcons (6-9) +13
13. Ravens (9-6) -2
14. Eagles (9-6) -1
15. Texans (8-7) +3
16 Chiefs (8-7) -2
17. Dolphins (8-7) -2
18. Bills (8-7) -2
19. 49ers (7-8) -2
20. Panthers (6-8-1) +4
21. Browns (7-8) -1
22. Giants (6-9) +4
23. Rams (6-9) -2
24. Saints (6-9) -12
25 Vikings (6-9) -3
26. Bears (5-10) -3
27. Redskins (4-11) +4
28. Jets (3-12) -1
29. Jaguars (3-12) -1
30. Raiders (3-12) 0
31. Bucs (2-13) -2
32. Titans (2-13) 0

The Dallas Cowboys Home Field Disadvantage Analyzed

DeMarco Murray

DeMarco Murray

In 2014, the Dallas Cowboys have been road warriors with a perfect 7-0 record. Sporting the best road record in the NFL but in home games, Dallas is a humbling 3-4. They have yet to defeat a team with a winning record at home this season. It took overtime to defeat the 7-7 Texans.

It kind of defies any logical explanation really, but with an important home game with the Colts approaching Sunday, it wouldn’t surprise me if Jerry Jones doesn’t have a big blue horse shoe painted at midfield to make the Cowboys feel like it’s a road game. Or maybe call the Colts owner and see if he would like to play an additional home game this season?

The Cowboys last home game was a 33-10 beat down on Thanksgiving at the hands of the Eagles but in Philadelphia, it was a different story with Dallas winning 38-27. What a difference a change in venues made.

I drilled down in some stats to look for answers and discovered some interesting trends.

OFFENSE:
One thing that jumps out is that the Cowboys offense averages just 21.4 points a game at home but on the road they average 33 a game which is huge difference! But why there is such a difference isn’t so obvious. Stay with me.

Looking at their QB Tony Romo, his QB rating is very close to the same in away and home games. At home his rating is 111 and away it’s 112. Pretty much the same.

However Looking at RB DeMarco Murray who has played an enormous role in the Cowboys offense this season, does show a difference. In away games, Murray has carried the ball for 27 times a game but in home games he has just 23 carries per game. May not sound like a big difference but it is also interesting that Murray carries the ball for an average of 25 times a game but in the Cowboys four home losses, he only carried it 22, 19, 19, and 20 times. A solid 20% below his average carries.

DEFENSE:
As far as points allowed goes, the Cowboys defense appears very consistent no matter where they play. They have allowed 23.4 points a game away and 23.4 points a game at home.

However what is interesting is they have a total of 24 takeaways this season but most of those have come in away games. The Cowboys defense has only 9 takeaways in 7 home games but they have 15 takeaways in 7 away games. That represents a huge difference.

In fact in the Cowboys four home losses, the defense only managed a total of 3 turnovers. That means they produced 21 takeaways in the 10 games they have won. That’s about 2 per game when they win.

That may help explain the offense scoring 12 more points on the road. The defense taking the ball away would help set them up. Does the Dallas defense play more conservatively in home games? Do they rely more on the offense or come out playing flat at home but more fired up on the road?

Final Take:
For the Cowboys to pick up a very important home win against the Colts Sunday, I think they need to give the ball to Murray at least 25 times, his average. At this point, it appears Murray is going to try to play with his injured hand.

On defense, I’m convinced the Cowboys will have to come up with at least 2 or 3 turnovers to win the game. Remember the turnaround in the second meeting with the Eagles? The Dallas defense had 3 takeaways in that one compared to one in Dallas. The defense will need to play with more intensity and more aggressively than typical home games.

And the 12th man. The Cowboy fan base can help by bringing the noise when the Colts have the ball and creating a true home field advantage.

NFL Power Rankings Week 16: Patriots Back on Top with Two Games Left

NFLTeamsThe Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

TOP 12:
The Packers offense was grounded in Buffalo and it drops the Packers out of the top spot. If the Packers can play at home throughout the post season, they will be fine but if they go on the road, it may not go well.

By winning in Philadelphia, the Dallas Cowboys move into the top 12 teams and in first place in the NFC East. The game with the Colts this week is a must win for them to win the East. The Eagles lurk at #13 ready to pounce if the Cowboys should stumble.

A win by the Ravens combined with a loss by the Chargers, moves the Ravens into the top 12 teams and bumps the Chargers out.

Week 16 Change
1. Patriots (11-3) +1
2. Cardinals (11-3) +2
3. Broncos (11-3) 0
4. Seahawks (10-4) +1
5. Packers (10-4) -4
6. Lions (10-4) 0
7. Colts (10-4) +1
8. Cowboys (10-4) +5
9. Steelers (9-5) 0
10. Bengals (9-4-1) 0
11. Ravens (9-5) +3
12. Saints (6-8) +13
13. Eagles (9-5) -6
14. Chiefs (8-6) +4
15. Chargers (8-6) -4
16 Bills (8-6) +3
17. 49ers (7-7) 0
18. Texans (7-7) -3
19. Dolphins (7-7) -3
20. Browns (7-7) 0
21. Rams (6-8) 0
22. Vikings (6-8) 0
23. Bears (5-9) 0
24. Panthers (5-8-1) 0
25 Falcons (5-9) -13
26. Giants (5-9) 0
27. Jets (3-11) +4
28. Jaguars (2-12) -1
29. Bucs (2-12) -1
30. Raiders (2-12) 0
31. Redskins (3-11) -2
32. Titans (2-12) 0

NFL Power Rankings Week 15: Seahawks On the Move Up

NFLTeams

The Twist: Each week the top 12 ranked teams will consist of 6 NFC teams and 6 AFC teams since 6 from each conference will qualify for the post season therefore indicating the top 12 teams most likely to currently make the playoffs. One NFC team and one AFC team occupy the top two spots to reflect who may end up in the super bowl. At least one team from each division is represented in the top 12.

TOP 12:
This week the defending champ Seahawks went to Philadelphia and made a statement that they are in this thing by beating the Eagles. That moves them up to the 5th spot and while Dallas took care of business at Chicago, the fact is they are the 7th ranked team in the NFC and outside looking in at the playoffs. But they can move up into the top 12 with a win against the Eagles Sunday night.

Week 15 Change
1. Packers (10-3) 0
2. Patriots (10-3) 0
3. Broncos (10-3) 0
4. Cardinals (10-3) 0
5. Seahawks (9-4) +8
6. Lions (9-4) +1
7. Eagles (9-4) -2
8. Colts (9-4) -2
9. Steelers (8-5) +5
10. Bengals (8-4-1) -2
11. Chargers (8-5) -2
12. Falcons (5-8) 0
13. Cowboys (9-4) -3
14. Ravens (8-5) +4
15. Texans (7-6) +5
16 Dolphins (7-6) -5
17. 49ers (7-6) -2
18. Chiefs (7-6) -2
19. Bills (7-6) -2
20. Browns (7-6) -1
21. Rams (6-7) 0
22. Vikings (6-7) +2
23. Bears (5-8) 0
24. Panthers (4-8-1) +1
25 Saints (5-8) -3
26. Giants (4-9) +1
27. Jaguars (2-11) -1
28. Bucs (2-11) 0
29. Redskins (3-10) 0
30. Raiders (2-11) +2
31. Jets (2-11) -1
32. Titans (2-11) -1