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Does the NFL's “Freezer Bowl” Game Deserve Its Nickname?

Updated May 17, 2024
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Hyperbole is commonplace when discussing pro sports, but calling the 1981 AFC Championship Game the "Freezer Bowl" is almost an understatement. When the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals met in Cincinnati on January 10, 1982, they faced kickoff temperatures of -9 degrees Fahrenheit (-22.8 degrees Celsius). The wind chill at game time was recorded as -59 °F (-50.5 °C), making it the coldest game in NFL history.

“I was as cold today as I’ve ever been,” said Bengals coach Forrest Gregg, who knew what he was talking about: In the 1967 Championship, Gregg played tackle for Green Bay. That game against Dallas was nicknamed the "Ice Bowl" because the wind chill at the time was -48 °F (-44.4 °C) – nearly as cold as the "Freezer Bowl" at which he coached in 1982.

Despite the chill, the Bengals were hot on the field, scoring 27 points to the Chargers' 7, and earning Cincinnati their first trip to the Super Bowl.

NFL playoff highlights:

  • The 2009 NFC Wild Card game between Green Bay and Arizona holds the record for most points scored, with 96.

  • The Dallas Cowboys' 5-0 win over Detroit in the 1970 NFC Division Championship is the lowest-scoring playoff game in history.

  • The 82-minute-long AFC Division Championship game between Miami and Kansas City in 1971 is the longest playoff game on record.

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