Five great snowy moments in sports history

Unless you're a little crazy, or you're out training for the Iditarod, you're probably like me, sitting at home today in front of the computer. Sports usually takes a back seat to bad weather when it brings an entire region to its knees, and this week is no different. The Maryland-Virginia basketball game that was scheduled for tonight was canceled, as were countless high school contests and horse races at Laurel Park. But sports don't always shut down when bad weather strikes. Sometimes the games really must go on, and the result is some of the most memorable moments of competition. Before you head outside to reluctantly shovel out your car for the third time this week, here is a look back -- in no specific ranking or order -- at five iconic moments when sports and snow collided.

1. "The Tuck Rule/Snow Job" -- New England vs. Oakland, 2001-2002 Divisional Playoffs: When it comes to football in the snow, this is the game that comes to mind first. It's weird to think back to this game and wonder if the Patriots dynasty might not have happened had Tom Brady's "arm-moving-forward-fumble" actually been ruled a fumble. Remember, Brady was just a second-year quarterback at this point, and there was still a healthy debate going as to whether or not the Patriots should go back to Drew Bledsoe the following season. But once Brady led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory, a Hall of Fame quarterback was born. In case you've forgotten the details, Oakland was leading New England 13-10 with less than two minutes remaining. A heavy snowstorm was blanketing Foxboro Stadium. The Patriots were driving the ball down the field when Raiders cornerback Charles Woodson drilled Brady on a blitz, just as Brady was pulling the ball down. The ball came loose, and Raiders linebacker Greg Beikert recovered it. But after looking at the replay, referee Walt Coleman invoked the little known "Tuck Rule" (Rule 3, Section 21, Article 2, Note 2) which states:


When [an offensive] player is holding the ball to pass it forward, any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.

The Patriots retained possession, Brady hit David Patten on the next play for a 13-yard gain, and Adam Vinatieri kicked the game-tying field goal with 27 seconds left. The Patriots won the toss at the start of overtime, and Brady drove his team 61 yards in 15 plays, putting Vinatieri in position to kick the game winner. New England players scrambled to clear off the snow so Vinatieri could get his plant foot down. His kick was low but straight and true. As snow swirled, delirious Patriots fans began their transition from lovable underdogs to entitled whiners.

One aspect I always felt gets overlooked in all this: the Raiders had multiple chances to stop the Patriots even after the "Tuck ruling," but instead of continuing to fight, they folded up and pouted.

2. "Favre vs. Frostbite" -- NFC Championship Game, 2008-08 Lambeau Field: Two images from this game stand out, looking back. The first was seeing Brett Favre trot off the field after throwing an interception in overtime, snow piling up on his shoulder pads, in what would be his last pass as a Green Bay Packer. (At the time, it seemed like it might be his last NFL pass, period.) The second is Tom Coughlin's face, which looked like he had spent the evening riding a tauntaun through a snowstorm on planet Hoth looking for Luke Skywalker. It was so chaffed and pink, how he didn't have to have his nose amputated from frostbite, I have no idea. Maybe he really is a grumpy android.

Temperature during this game hovered somewhere around -4 degrees, with a wind chill of -25, and it seemed to affect Favre more than anyone. After all those years of youthful exuberance, he looked as stiff as an old man shoveling his sidewalk in a blizzard. Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes will likely be eternally grateful of Favre's poor decision making, considering he missed two field goals in regulation before kicking the game-winner in overtime, sending the Giants to the Super Bowl.

3. "The Ice Bowl" -- Packers vs. Cowboys, NFL Championship 1967: Probably the most famous, or infamous, cold weather game in the history of football. The official game-time temperature was -13 degrees, but with the wind chill, it felt like -48. It was so cold, referees' whistles froze and the entire game had to be officiated using voice commands and hand signals. The halftime show, a scheduled performance by the University of Wisconsin-Lacrosse marching band, was canceled when instruments froze to band members' lips. Seven of the performers were taken to the hospital with hypothermia.

The Packers trailed the Cowboys 17-14 with 16 seconds remaining, but had the ball at the 1-yard line. The Cowboys assumed the Packers would throw the ball on third down, knowing if quarterback Bart Starr threw an incomplete pass the clock would stop and Green Bay could still attempt a game-tying field goal to send the game into overtime. But Vince Lombardi, according to legend, decided it was so cold, he wanted the game to end one way or another, and agreed to a running play. Starr scored on a sneak, and Green Bay went on to defeat Oakland in Super Bowl II. The Ice Bowl is supposedly where the phrase "the frozen tundra of Lambeau Field" originated, but John Facenda, long-time narrator for NFL Films, denied ever uttering it.

4. "Snow-pening Day at Camden Yards!" -- Orioles vs. Indians, 2003: In one of the strangest beginnings to a season in team history, Baltimore defeated Cleveland 6-5 in 13 innings on a day when it was snowing so hard, players joked all they could do when they came to the plate was try to pick out the biggest white snowflake and try to hit it, assuming there was a good chance it was the ball. The snow flurries were swirling so much in the third inning, Birds starter Rodrigo Lopez looked like he was standing in a snow globe. It was impossible for the outfielders to see routine fly balls. Cleveland took an early lead when Orioles outfielder Jay Gibbons couldn't locate a routine fly ball by Ellis Burks amid all the falling flakes.

"I couldn't even see the hitter, that's how bad it was,'' Gibbons said. "I heard him hit it, and that was about it. I saw the umpire looking at me; I think he was waiting for me to make a move. That was crazy.''

Burks didn't know how he hit the ball either, much less where it landed.

"I couldn't even see it at the plate," he said. "I told the umpire I couldn't see it. I asked him if he could see it and he said, 'A little.' "

5. "Leon Lett's Thanksgiving Snow Blunder" -- Dolphins vs. Cowboys, 1993: It's sort of a shame Leon Lett is only remembered for two of the most public blunders in modern football because he was actually a pretty good defensive tackle, but his inexplicable attempt to recover a blocked field goal at the end of a Thanksgiving Day game against Miami added to his legacy of infamy. The game was, at the time, the most-watched regular-season NFL game in 19 years (34 million tuned in) but if you don't recall the details, let us review the scene. Despite the fact that the game was played in Dallas, snow trickled through the hole in the roof steadily throughout the contest, wreaking havoc on the two first-place teams. One player not affected by the slippery footing was Dolphins running back Keith Byers, who ran for a 77-yard touchdown and celebrated by doing snow angles in the end zone. All most people remember, however, was the wacky ending to the game. Miami kicker Pete Stoyanovich attempted a 41-yard field goal with his team trailing 14-13, but the kick was blocked. The ball skidded around the snowy field, and for some reason, Lett attempted to recover it, only to have it squirt from his grasp in the slippery conditions. The Dolphins recovered, and since Dallas had touched it, they earned a new set of downs. Stoyanovich kicked the game-winner from 19 yards minutes later.