MINNEAPOLIS — More than 50,000 football fans braved the frigid weather Sunday for the Seattle Seahawks and Minnesota Vikings NFC wild card playoff game in Minneapolis.
The temperature at kickoff at TCF Bank Stadium was -6 degrees Fahrenheit with a wind chill of -25. That made the game the coldest one in Vikings’ history and tying for the third-coldest playoff game in NFL history.
Hand warmers at entry gates and free coffee for fans were provided before the game.
Mariucci Arena, where the University of Minnesota’s men’s hockey team plays, was opened as a warming house three hours before kickoff.
Low temperatures, low scores
As for the game, the Seahawks escaped with a 10-9 win after Vikings kicker Blair Walsh missed the chip shot, a 27-yard field goal that would have given Minnesota a 12-10 lead with 22 seconds remaining.
Seattle trailed 9-0 heading into the fourth quarter before taking a 10-9 lead midway through the fourth.
The Seahawks, who have won six straight road games, advance to the NFC Divisional round where they’ll face the Carolina Panthers (15-1) in Charlotte next Sunday. Carolina defeated Seattle 27-23 on the road on October 18.
Did the subzero temperatures play a factor?
Walsh said, “It’s all the same. That field is what it is. We’ve done such a good job of mastering it all year on field goals. I picked a hell of a time to have one that I missed for the first time. The whole thing is on me, and I accept that. It’s shameful. I have to do better.”
Minnesota quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said: “It really wasn’t a factor at all. We were warm for the most part especially on the sidelines with the heated benches. You go out on the field. It’s all a mental thing. It did not affect us at all.”
“It was all good until my eyelashes froze,” said Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. “Then you kind of realize it might be kind of cold out here. I went out to warm up before everybody came out and took a jog. My contact lenses almost froze over. You can’t ever prepare for that kind of weather or that kind of cold because it’s like sitting in the freezer. ”
Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said, “Usually when you go to games like that and the weather is like that, a lot of people are thinking about the weather. And for us not to be thinking about the weather and mostly winning the game. It says a lot about our team.”
Coach has warm shout-out for the fans
Even with the loss, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer applauded the Vikings faithful.
“I thought the fans were outstanding. They sat in the coldest game in Vikings history and were loud. I thought they did a great job,” Zimmer said.
Minnesota played their first outdoor home playoff game since the 1976 NFC Championship when they beat the Los Angeles Rams to advance to Super Bowl XI. Renowned Vikings coach Bud Grant, 88, was the honorary captain for Sunday’s game and wasn’t fazed by the big chill as he donned short sleeves for the coin toss.
The Vikings previous coldest game for temperature and wind chill occurred on December 3, 1972, against the Chicago Bears. The temperature was minus -2 degrees, with a wind chill of -19 degrees.
The coldest game of all-time was the classic “Ice Bowl” on December 31, 1967, between the Dallas Cowboys and Green Bay Packers for the NFL championship. It was -13 degrees with the wind chill of -48 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin, that.
Cold week ahead
A stoic lot in the face of winter, Minnesotans of all stripes will have plenty to test their resolve this week.
The highest temperature in the seven-day forecast for Minneapolis is 21 degrees, according to the National Weather Service. Light snow is also expected this week.
At 6 p.m. CT Sunday, the temperature in Minneapolis was -3 degrees. Not to be outdone, the temperature at International Falls, near the border with Canada, was -7 degrees. The low in the “Nation’s Icebox” is expected to dip to -19 degrees overnight.
Such cold temperatures call for innovation. On Twitter, a photo of beers being heated up on the edge of a grill was posted.