Remmel: Ice Bowl Was Coldest, But '90 Lions Game Nearly As Frigid


The unforgettable "Ice Bowl," the coldest recorded game in pro football history - one that matched the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys for the 1967 NFL championship in Lambeau Field - has long been the standard against which all other cold-weather games are measured.

And presumably will continue to be until such time that a more frigid contest comes along to topple it off its frosty throne (minus-13 temperature, 46-below wind chill at kickoff, Dec. 31, 1967).

Whatever the case, there is at least one other game - also involving the Packers - that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath at this point in time.

And its "anniversary," poetically, is on the horizon.

That Arctic matchup also was staged in Lambeau Field, with the Packers hosting the Detroit Lions on Dec. 22, 1990 - approximately 16 years ago this weekend, which again finds the Lions visiting "Lambeau."

The temperature at kickoff on that occasion, according to the Green Bay Weather Bureau, was a brisk 2.6 degrees Fahrenheit, which remains the third-coldest kickoff reading in team history.

The wind chill, however, made it feel even colder for the 46,700 fans in the stands. Depending on the wind's changeable velocity, it read between 20 and 30 bone-chilling degrees below zero during the course of the afternoon.

For the record, it also should be noted that the Packers were to host a slightly colder game three years later.

The latter date was Dec. 26, 1993, and the temperature at kickoff was zero degrees as the Packers entertained the Oakland Raiders and proceeded to blank the shivering Californians, 28-0.

It was, incidentally, the day that the flamboyant LeRoy Butler invented the "Lambeau Leap," with a modest assist from teammate Reggie White.

Surprisingly, since they presumably should have had an advantage, playing outdoors at home against a "dome" team in the Lions, the Green and Gold ultimately fell victim to the Detroit forces, 24-17.

In that deep freeze contest against the Michiganders, the Packers owed their misfortune in large part to the Lions' gifted running back, Barry Sanders.

Sanders began to take over the game with the score tied at 17-all midway through the fourth quarter.

But it was quarterback Rodney Peete who launched the visitors' winning drive, initially hitting ex-Packer Aubrey Matthews with a 13-yard pass for one first down, then wideout Robert Clark with an 11-yard strike, setting the stage for Sanders.

To the Packers' dismay and disbelief, Barry took charge, carrying the football three times in a row - until he deposited it in the Green Bay end zone.

He launched his assault with a 37-yard excursion off Detroit's right flank before being grounded by strong safety Mark Murphy at the Packers' 13-yard-line.

Pinned for no gain on the next play by defensive end Tony Bennett, Sanders then shot through the middle for 7 yards.

On the following play, Barry finished the job, bolting over the right side into the end zone from 6 yards out. Veteran Eddie Murray kicked the extra point for 24-17, the final score.

{sportsad300}Blair Kiel, making his only start of the season at quarterback, made a valiant bid to forge a tie for the Packers, escorting the Green and Gold to the Detroit 14-yard line before Lions defender Ray Crockett intercepted a Kiel pass with only 1:46 remaining to end all Green Bay hopes of an overtime.

It was Crockett's second major contribution to the Detroit cause in the fourth period. He earlier had scooped up a fumble by tight end Ed West at the Packers' 12-yard line and wheeled into the end zone untouched.

It subsequently became a bittersweet afternoon for West, who closed out the day as the game's leading receiver with seven catches for 103 yards, but in a losing effort.

The final figures eloquently testified to the dimensions of Sanders' impact on the outcome. He rushed 19 times for 133 yards, a 7.0-yard average, and caught four passes for 49 more, giving him a total of 182 offensive yards for the day.

Meanwhile, in painful contrast, starting Packers flanker Sterling Sharpe was limited to just one reception for 13 yards. Kiel completed 20 of 36 passes overall for 239 yards - with one key interception.

*Continuing an association with the team that is more than 55 years old, Lee Remmel was named the first official Team Historian of the Green Bay Packers in February 2004. The former Green Bay Press-Gazette reporter and Packers public relations director, Remmel will write regular columns for as part of his new assignment.

In addition to those articles, Remmel will answer fan questions in a monthly Q&A column. To submit a question to Remmel, click here.*


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