Perhaps the MVP from Sunday was Mother Nature. At least for the fans.
My phone started to blow up right after noon, most of which were texts that read something along the lines of, “Are you watching this Lions-Eagles game?”
I was, and I was mesmerized. And I couldn’t even see the game very well. The snow was coming down so thick, it reminded me of the days growing up when a station would go off the air and all you would see is static. But this was so much more entertaining.
Face it: watching football being played in the snow is fun. Especially from a warm living room.
Heavy snow fell in Philly, dumping about eight inches from about 90 minutes prior to kickoff to early in the fourth quarter. The grounds crew used blowers and shovels to clear the yard lines, goal lines and sidelines during stoppages in play.
There were snow angels too. But these came naturally on every tackle. And it was marvelous.
The bad news for Cowboys fans – one could argue that the weather helped secure a win for the Eagles, as Detroit fumbled seven times and lost three of them. Two of the turnovers were costly, happening deep in Philly territory early in the game that probably took points off the board with the way the Lions were running the ball. The snow was coming down very heavy at that point; Forrest Gump calls it “fat snow.” Neither team attempted a field goal in the game, while the one extra point (by Detroit, only because a penalty moved the try back) was blocked.
The Eagles were able to keep Detroit within striking distance and seized momentum in the second half, mainly on the talent of LeSean McCoy, who set the franchise rushing record with 217 yards on 29 carries.
Thus the Eagles have a half-game lead on the Cowboys entering Dallas’ Monday night contest at Chicago.
Snow was also a factor in four other NFL games Sunday, two of which had fantastic finishes. The Minnesota-Baltimore game featured five touchdowns in the final 2:05 that saw the lead change on every one of them. There were six lead changes in the fourth quarter – a new NFL record.
Pittsburgh almost pulled a rabbit out of its hat with a final play that rivaled the 1982 Stanford-Cal game (save the band on the field). The Steelers lateraled the ball five times after a completed pass on fourth down with one tick left that began in Steelers’ territory (click here to see it). Finally, Antonio Brown gathered the ball and sprinted down the left sideline and into the end zone. Luckily for the Dolphins, he stepped out of bounds before scoring.
Maybe it was karma on Mike Tomlin. The football gods did not think a $100,000 fine was enough from Thanksgiving’s sideline gaffe.
Dolphins receiver Mike Wallace said after the game that the toughest thing to adjust to in the snow was simply trying to stop.
“Both sides have to go through it though,” he told reporters afterward. “If they get this kind of snow for the Super Bowl (in New York), it could get crazy for a while if it is two teams not used to playing in it. It might be a challenge for everybody, fans included.”
Personally, the thought of a Super Bowl being played in the snow makes my mouth water. The ratings for that game would be off the charts, and take the event to another level.
And there’s this: some weather analysts are actually predicting a winter storm to hit New York on the weekend of the Super Bowl (rubs hands together in anticipation).
“It would be disappointing if it didn’t (snow), quite frankly,” Brian McCarthy, spokesman for the NFL told the Huffington Post. “Weather and the elements are part of the game. And we are embracing it.”
We shall as well.
Iced in over the weekend wasn’t actually so bad (save two kids bouncing off the walls). Combined with college football championship games on Saturday, the NFL Sunday treats were simply fantastic.
Snow wasn’t a factor in Foxboro, though. Certainly most of you caught the final minutes of the Patriots’ comeback win over Cleveland, where the visiting team dug deep to find their inner “Browns.” Cleveland went up, 26-14, with 2:39 to go, and still lost. Tom Brady drove the Pats 82 yards in 98 seconds. It was a meltdown made complete after an onside kick and a phantom pass interference call in the end zone with 30 seconds left, giving New England the game on a silver platter. Browns kicker Billy Cundiff even had a chance to win it with a 58-yard field goal but he came up short.
Know this – when SI’s Peter King tweets out, “Cleveland. Robbed,” you know the Browns got hosed.
They’re not expecting snow in Chicago tonight either, just a balmy temperature of, oh, nine. The bar has been set – week 14 means wild games and crazy endings. Cowboy fans are bracing to see what might transpire at Soldier Field tonight.