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.
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.”
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.