Ice Bowl 67: The Packers, the Cowboys, and the Game that Changed the NFL by Chuck CarlsonFor those players who remain, the scars still run deep when it comes to the infamous “Ice Bowl,” played December 31, 1967, between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
There are players even today who suffer the ravages of frostbite and lung damage from a game many of the players never thought should have been played. As one player said, “It was just too damn cold. Who plays football in that weather?” But play they did in the minus 45 degree wind-chill (that dropped to 65 below by the end of the game) because the NFL championship, and a spot in the second Super Bowl, was on the line.
What resulted was a game that has become part legend, part myth. There are a thousand stories from players and fans alike about a game that, 50 years later, remains embedded in NFL lore because of its sheer drama. Everyone remembers that the Packers won in dramatic fashion, the last gasp of a dynasty. The Cowboys, meanwhile, used the game as a building block that would propel them into NFL domination for 20 years. But what few remember is that this was. In every way imaginable, a game of survival, pitting man against the worst nature could deliver.
This is a story about a football game, the men who played it, the people who watched it, those who were inspired by it and it’s a story, even a half century later, that remains unforgettable.
The Ice Bowl
It would have been a great game if it had been played on a sweltering September afternoon or on a crisp autumn day in November or even indoors, if there were domed football stadiums in Both coaches would be enshrined, too. The Packers had guile and experience and a field general named Bart Starr. The official low temperature at Austin Straubel Airport that day was 17 below zero. With Arctic winds whipping out of the northwest, the wind chill dipped to 50 below at Lambeau Field, its turf frozen solid and topped by a layer of ice, so that players slipped and slid and fell on what felt like jagged concrete. The game would be decided in the closing seconds, at the conclusion of a drive that bordered on the mystical, with Starr plunging into the end zone to put a symbolic exclamation mark on the Lombardi era.
By Barry Horn. Bob Lilly hasn't smoked a cigarette in almost half a century. He owes it to football. At age 78, the former defensive tackle can still pinpoint the day in his Hall of Fame Cowboys career that forced him to abandon his guilty pleasure. But the most memorable numbers that day 50 years ago came not off a NFL statistics sheet, but rather courtesy of the National Weather Service. Temperature at kickoff was 13 degrees below zero.
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The winner went to the second Super Bowl against the Oakland Raiders, but a bigger accomplishment may have been simply surviving the conditions that seemed unbearable. The temperature at game time was 15 below zero, with wind chill in today's calculations at minus Fifty years later, players from the Packers and Cowboys still shiver from memories of the bitter cold of a game that would become known as the Ice Bowl. Here is the story published by The Associated Press after the game, presented as published Jan. AP — Conservative Vince Lombardi gambled and won Sunday with 13 seconds left by going for the winning touchdown on a Bart Starr keeper instead of a tying field goal for a Green Bay victory over Dallas in blue below-zero Eskimo weather. I had the field goal team warming up.
The game was played in brutal cold and windy conditions. Temperatures were so cold, in fact, that referees had to shout signals so that the metal whistles wouldn't stick to their lips. Even so, nearly 51, fans watched the coldest game in league annals. The overall weather pattern during the month of December underwent a rather dramatic "second half adjustment. The west-to-east northern stream over Canada essentially blocked the Arctic air from moving southward into the United States figure on left, below. However, during the second half of the month, the upper air pattern changed dramatically such that by the end of December , a large polar vortex had become established over Hudson Bay with a large and deep trough centered right over the central United States figure on right, below. This pattern change allowed the Arctic air that was building up in Canada earlier in the month to spill south into the United States by the end of the month.
We apologize for any inconvenience. Fifty years ago, two teams battled more than each other for sports glory. The night before the rivalry, the temperature dropped nearly 30 degrees. Surface weather chart for December 31, , showing midnight CST temperatures. The extreme weather conditions added to the drama of the rivalry that pitted two soon-to-be legendary coaches, Tom Landry of Dallas and Vince Lombardi of Green Bay, in a second high-stakes matchoff.