The Cold Hard Facts of Bad-Weather Football

In the days before modern shoe technology, these two titans slipped around on a sheet of ice at the New York Polo Grounds. The Giants were trailing the Bears, 10-3, when end Ray Flaherty suggested that sneakers would provide better traction. Giants coach Steve Owen then ordered his equipment manager to get sneakers. The manager returned with the sneakers, the Giants made the switch, and eventually scored 27 second-half points to win, 30-13. Amazingly, two decades later, in 1956, the Giants would again use sneakers to defeat the cleat-clad Bears on the icy Polo Grounds, 47-7.

3. Leon Lett's Skating Rink: Dolphins at Cowboys, Nov. 25, 1993

Snow and mist froze on the concrete-like artificial Texas Stadium turf for the Cowboys' annual Thanksgiving affair. In the game's waning moments, the Cowboys blocked Miami kicker Pete Stoyanovich's game-winning field goal attempt. Rather than let the ball come harmlessly to rest, the Cowboys' Leon Lett inexplicably tried to recover it. But he fumbled the ball, allowing the Dolphins' Jeff Dellenbach to recover at the one-yard-line. With a second chance to win the game, Stoyanovich nailed the 19-yarder for the 16-14 win. Eleven years later, readers named it the third-biggest sports blunder of the previous 25 years.

4. Goal Post Safety: Redskins at Cleveland Rams, Dec. 16, 1945

In sub-zero temperatures and windy conditions at Cleveland Stadium, Redskins QB Sammy Baugh decided to throw a first-quarter pass from deep in his own end zone. But whether it was the wind or just his inaccuracy, Baugh's pass hit the goal post and bounced back. Under rules of the day, the play was ruled a safety, proving to be the key points in the Rams' 15-14 win. The next year, the Rams gave up their home-field weather advantage by moving to Los Angeles.

5. Snowball Defense: 49ers at Broncos, Nov. 11, 1985

Late in the second quarter at Mile High Stadium, 49ers kicker Ray Wersching was attempting a 19-yard field goal when a snowball flew in from the stands, distracting holder Matt Cavanaugh. The hold was botched, and Cavanaugh threw incomplete while attempting to salvage the play. The officials allowed the play to stand and the Broncos won, 17-16.

8. John Clayton remembers a chilly affair in Pittsburgh.

The 1975 AFC Championship Game wasn't the coldest, but it was still memorable. A cold front came through Pittsburgh that weekend, taking temperatures into the teens. But the winds off the three rivers that define the city were fierce. Game-time wind chills dropped to 12 below zero.

Even colder was the icy relationship between the Steelers and the visiting Oakland Raiders.

Yet, the true story came on the eve of the game. With the winds, the Three Rivers Stadium grounds crew was having an impossible time keeping the artificial turf from freezing. Dirt Denardo, the creative leader of the grounds crew, pieced together several tarps to cover the field, but the extra tarps gave him an idea. Denardo added the extra tarps in order to create a system to blow dry the field with heat to try to keep it warm. He placed powerful heaters under the tarps and let them blow.

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