The 1985 Snow Bowl
The Buccaneers have played some pretty amazing games during their chequered history. And of course, for 27 years, there was the infamous statistic about never having won when the temperature was under 40 degrees. But in 1985, the Bucs played in the most incredible conditions of all in a December 1st game at Lambeau Field, one that has remained in a lot of players' memories since.
|The defense tries to keep its footing|
|That is actually Leeman Bennett on the left of Steve Young|
|Someone either makes a tackle or the back slips over again|
1985 was the first year of Leeman Bennett's reign as head coach of the Bucs and his team were on their way to a 2-14 campaign. Steve Young had arrived from the USFL and had the previous week, beaten Detroit in his NFL starting debut. The Bucs were optimistic for the umpteenth time that this was the start of the corner being turned in Tampa. Not so fast my friends as Lee Corso would say.
|Punter Frank Garcia had trouble even seeing the snap back to him|
|Steve Young nearly suffocated when he was sacked into a snowdrift|
|Scot Brantley (52) probably wishes he had started his radio career earlier|
Week 13 was a trip to Lambeau Field to play the Packers, not exactly world-beaters at the time themselves. And it was snowing in Green Bay. Hard. And getting worse. Six inches of snow fell the day before the game, six inches fell during the game and another foot and a half the following day.
It was the worst weather Lambeau Field had seen on a game day in 30 years. Total white-out conditions at times, grounds crew trying to sweep the lines between plays and coaches and commentators alike having difficulty in seeing on to the field. And the Bucs were in white.
The Bucs were outgained by the incredible margin of 512 yards to 61 and it was only two short missed fieldgoals by Al Del Greco of the Packers (basically because he couldn't stand up straight to kick them) and a pair of fumbles that stopped the game being a total annihilation on the scoreboard. A shade under 20,000 were in the stands to see the game although probably many more were unable to travel across snowbound Wisconsin to get to Lambeau Field that afternoon.
It was 30 first downs to five for the Pack and Lynn Dickey's passing performance was nothing short of unreal in the conditions. James Lofton had over 100 yards by half-time and Dickey's arm was every bit as good as Brett Favre who would follow him a decade later.
Steve Young threw one out pass that sailed on the wind and flew over the receiver's head. He tried again on the next play and the wind knocked it down to fall incomplete five yards from Kevin House's feet. Backs and linemen were slipping all over the place unless they had a Packer helmet on, in which case they seemed to be playing on perfect grass.
The 1985 Bucs were not a great team and they quickly realised that as soon as the Packers scored, any hope of success was beyond them. Thanks to a fumble recovery, they did get inside the Green Bay 20-yard line at the end of the third quarter but the incompetent Leeman Bennett didn't call a time out and hence had to attempt the kick at the other end of the field at the start of the fourth quarter when the teams changed ends. I don't know if Igwebuike missed left, right or short - you simply couldn't even see the ball flying off his foot.
The Bucs did get out of Wisconsin on a flight that evening but several of the players had staged a protest convinced it was not safe to fly. Eventually the pilot had to come out of the cockpit to convince them that he had a wife and family and wouldn't put them at risk by taking off in dangerous conditions. "Show us the pictures" LB and current Buc radio show host Scot Brantley remembers calling out. "You could hear a pin drop when we rolled down the runway" he added.
Of all the hundreds of games the Bucs have played, this one will go down as one of the most memorable. Images of the Bucs players huddled around the only heater on the sideline or the speed at which they ran off the field at half-time and the final gun. They probably would have lost if conditions had been perfect but at least this way, everyone got to remember a trip to Green Bay for something very special.