NFL playoff game kicks off in ‘dangerous’ -19C weather with feels like temperature of -30C


The Chiefs and Dolphins have kicked off one of the coldest NFL playoff games in history, with temperatures sinking to -19C at kick-off at Kansas City’s Arrowhead Stadium.

An icy winter storm in the US already postponed the Bills’ clash with the Steelers by 24 hours after 50cm of snow was expected to fall in Buffalo — but the show went on in Kansas City after snow stopped falling earlier in the day.

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Instead, the National Weather Service has warned of “dangerously cold” wind chill that brought with it apparent temperatures of -30C.

Footage shared by fans before the game showed drinks freezing over the moment they were taken out of a fridge at a kiosk around the stadium.

There have been only four playoff games played in sub-zero temperatures in NFL history, the most recent in 2007 when it was -16C at kick-off between the Giants and Packers.

The visiting Giants won 23-20 in a game perhaps best remembered for the images of coach Tom Coughlin’s frozen face on the sideline.

The coldest game in league history remains -25C for the 1967 NFL championship, when the Packers beat the Cowboys in a game that came to be known as the Ice Bowl. The wind chill that day was -44C.

Groundstaff get the field ready after morning snowfall eased. Credit: Ed Zurga/AP

Nearly 60 years on and under-pitch heating will help Chiefs and Dolphins players while fans have received some small comforts.

The Chiefs have placed numerous warming stations throughout the stadium, and they bent some of their rules to help punters deal with the weather.

Fans have been allowed to bring in blankets, provided they had no zippers or compartments, and could use portable chargers to power heated apparel.

They were also permitted to bring cardboard to put under their feet, a useful tip that Chiefs safety Justin Reid passed along this week.

“The spectators need to be prepared. Think cold ski trip or ice fishing,” said Dr Sarah Spelsberg, who teaches in Northeastern University’s Graduate Program in Extreme Medicine.

“If it’s me, I’m wearing ski goggles, too. There would not be a millimeter of my skin showing in these temperatures. I had frostbite one time and I never wanted to have it again.”

Not every fan is such a diehard.

The prices for tickets on the resale market plummeted throughout the week as fans tried to unload their seats. The price to get in was less than $US30 ($A45) by Saturday, or about 10 per cent of what it would normally cost.

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) warms up before an NFL wild-card playoff football game against the Miami Dolphins Saturday, Jan. 13, 2024, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel) Credit: Charlie Riedel/AP

The weather almost certainly will put a chill into the Dolphins, whose loss to Buffalo last week cost them an opportunity to host a home playoff game this weekend.

They practised all week in warm Miami, and it was 30C on Friday, when they stepped on the plane to Kansas City — and it was -12C with a wind chill of -21C when they arrived.

“You can’t prepare for a game like that with that kind of weather, so it’ll be new,” said Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who grew up in Hawaii and played his college football in the relative warmth of Alabama.

The coldest game ever played at Arrowhead Stadium was -17C at kickoff, set during a game in 1983 and matched during another in 2016.

– with AP




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