Officially, it was the NFL Championship Game. In reality, it was the Ice Bowl.
It was minus-13 that brutal day. Sunday’s game will definitely not be dubbed “Ice Bowl II.” According to weather.com, it’s supposed to be 18. That’s above zero. It will be sunny, not snowy.
To get ready for the cold, the Packers practiced in the Don Hutson Center on Wednesday. With the heat off and the doors opened. McCarthy said it got down to 22 degrees.
“I was told it was an all-time Green Bay Packer record. That’s a big deal when you do that,” a proud McCarthy said.
Said running back Eddie Lacy, “It was freezing in there, man. It was so cold. But you have to get used to it.”
“A little shock to the system,” receiver Jordy Nelson added.
Nobody believes the cold weather is going to sway Sunday’s outcome in Green Bay’s favor. After all, San Francisco beat the Packers in the playoffs last year. It was 5.
“I think football’s football. I’m not counting on the weather,” McCarthy said.
The Cowboys’ coldest game of the year was at Chicago on Dec. 4. It was 35. That’s about what it was in Dallas on Wednesday, as the Cowboys got to work on their preparation for Sunday. So Mother Nature lent them an icy helping hand.
“It actually is a relatively cold day here,” Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said in a conference call on Wednesday. “It’s in the 30s, and it’s a pretty cold wind. So we practiced in that this morning, and that’s really all we can do. Whatever we try to do here, we won’t simulate the experience that we’ll have up there at Lambeau. But guys have played in the cold before. Guys have played in these kind of conditions before. The idea is to prepare yourself accordingly, and then just go play football. That’s really what we’re trying to emphasize to our team.”
One of the guys with cold-weather experience is the most important guy to have that experience: quarterback Tony Romo. Romo grew up flinging footballs and slinging snowballs in Burlington, Wis., and played his college ball at Eastern Illinois.
“If you learn how to do things the right way and keep yourself warm, I think that all of those things give yourself a chance to be a version of yourself,” Romo said in his conference call. “It can affect you if you haven’t played in it before and if you’re not prepared. I think the football team, we play in the NFC East so we’re up in the East Coast a lot and a lot of the games end up being at the end of the year. That’s just part of what our football team has had to do before. For us, we’ll just put our head down and go to work, like we always do.”
The Cowboys went 8-0 on the road this season. With a bruising offensive line and an elite running back in DeMarco Murray, Dallas' offense should be successful anywhere from the parking lot to the moon, as Garrett put it.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said the cold “can mess” with a warm-weather team, especially early. Green Bay’s players, who have to deal with the cold for such every-day things as walking to the car or going into the grocery store, can build up some sort of immunity to it. However, counting on the cold to provide any kind of advantage is foolhardy. In 2008, Houston beat the Packers on a 3-degree day.
For Lacy, who fumbled last week against Detroit, the cold-weather practice should be invaluable. The ability to handle the ball in the cold, not the mental burden of surviving for four hours in a refrigerator, should be the Packers’ biggest advantage this time of year.
“It definitely helps out,” said Lacy, a Louisiana native who played at Alabama. We’re going out there with a completely different mind-set than we have for the game. We’re going out to practice, we’re like, ‘OK, we’ve got to practice, we know it’s 1 degree, 0 degrees outside and it’s going to be super cold,’ and we have to go through that. So, it gives us a few days to prepare ourselves mentally for when game time comes, OK, now you have game-day adrenaline and you’ve been in this weather the whole week. So, it definitely helps us out.”
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