Packers-Falcons Notebook - Same Teams, Different Setting


Like black and white. Like night and day. Like, well, Lambeau Field in September and Lambeau Field in January.

The first time the Packers and Falcons met this season it was a humid 83 degrees at kickoff and the temperature kept rising.

This weekend, with a 7 p.m. kickoff, the temperature will start in the mid-20s -- without the wind chill -- and continue to drop.

And it might even snow.

Equally difficult, the settings couldn't be any different. In fact, the environment will be altered right down to the footing.

In preparation for the playoffs, the Packers' grounds crew re-sodded the middle of the field with a Bermuda grass. That's a departure from the Kentucky bluegrass hybrid the Packers have used all season.

"It won't have the give in it that was shown in our last ballgame on Lambeau," GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said of the Bermuda grass. "They can pack this down a little bit."

Although improved by the new sod, the footing Saturday isn't expected to be ideal.

One theory is that the 'slow track' will be to the Packers' advantage, equalizing fleet-footed Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. But Atlanta head coach Dan Reeves doesn't see it that way.

Said Reeves, "You know, I still think he's going to be faster than most people no matter what kind of track it is."

Feel A Draft?

The Packers' Friday walkthrough on Lambeau Field marked their first outdoor practice of the week, but not their first taste of the cold.

Thursday's practice was held inside the Hutson Center, but with the heat off and the doors open.

GM/Head Coach Mike Sherman said he was pleased with the combination, which lowered the temperature and the risk of injury.

"The ground outside is so hard, you have a chance to turn your ankle," Sherman said. "We tried to do the next best thing (by opening the doors). I kind of like it. I think it keeps everybody fresh.

"It almost gets too hot in here and steamy sometimes, so I might keep them open all the time. I might take the doors off."

How Cold?

You think Brett Favre knows the cold? Not quite like Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Reeves.

While Favre has built a reputation for being perhaps the best cold-weather quarterback the game has ever seen, he can't claim to have thrown a touchdown pass in the coldest game in NFL history. But Reeves can.

A running back for the Dallas Cowboys, Reeves was at Lambeau Field for the granddaddy of all cold-weather games, the 1967 NFL Championship game better known as the 'Ice Bowl.'

With an official game-time temperature of 13-below and a wind chill that registered at minus-48 degrees, it's considered the coldest game in NFL history.

It was Reeves' 50-yard pass to Lance Rentzel in the fourth quarter that would have won it for the Cowboys had Bart Starr not led the Packers on a 68-yard scoring drive in the game's final minutes to prevail 21-17.

Thirty-five years have gone by since the legendary game, but Reeves still remembers it well, even if it's turned into something of NFL fisherman's tale -- the one that got away.

"It's a lot colder now than it was then," Reeves said. "I'm sure I've embellished some stories just like everyone else has. I think that was a 90-yard touchdown pass that I threw ...

"As the years go along, it's amazing how much better a player I was. But they still won, (that) doesn't change. I can remember the score."

How Will It Rank?

Saturday's game-time temperature is expected to be in the mid-20s. Since 1959, from which point statistics are available, the Packers have played 29 home games in which the temperature at kickoff has been 25 degrees or colder, including two this season (vs. Chicago, Dec. 1; vs. Minnesota, Dec. 30).

Packers home games, 25 degrees or below, regular season and playoffs (1959-2002*)

12/31/67 Dallas Cowboys (LF) -13

12/26/93 Los Angeles Raiders (LF) 0

12/22/90 Detroit Lions (LF) 2

01/12/97 Carolina Panthers (LF) 3

11/28/76 Chicago Bears (LF) 6

12/20/92 Los Angeles Rams (LF) 8

12/15/91 Detroit Lions (LF) 10

12/12/82 Detroit Lions (LF) 10

12/04/77 Detroit Lions (LF) 10

12/03/72 Detroit Lions (LF) 10

12/08/02 Minnesota Vikings (LF) 11

12/21/75 Atlanta Falcons (LF) 12

12/11/88 Minnesota Vikings (LF) 14

12/24/00 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (LF) 15

12/30/01 Minnesota Vikings (LF) 19

01/08/83 St. Louis Cardinals (LF) 20

12/14/80 Houston Oilers (LF) 20

12/23/67 Los Angeles Rams (CoS) 20

12/31/61 New York Giants (CiS) 20

11/12/95 Chicago Bears (LF) 22

12/21/69 St. Louis Cardinals (LF) 22

12/01/02 Chicago Bears (LF) 23

12/10/89 Kansas City Chiefs (LF) 23

12/08/85 Miami Dolphins (LF) 23

12/12/71 Chicago Bears (LF) 23

12/23/01 Cleveland Browns (LF) 24

12/24/95 Pittsburgh Steelers (LF) 24

12/10/00 Detroit Lions (LF) 25

11/22/64 Cleveland Browns (CoS) 25

* information unavailable for some games / LF - Lambeau Field; CoS - County Stadium; CiS - City Stadium

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