The Green Bay Packers are famous for playing on the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field. The team’s history is full of home games played in the snow, wind and cold which is often referred to as “Packer weather.” But the Green and Gold have played some road games in the snow as well including a contest in 1984 that may have been the Packers worst road snow game.
It was only October 15th when the Packers headed west to take on the Denver Broncos at Mile High Stadium. Forrest Gregg was in his first season as head coach of the Packers and after winning in Week 1, the club had lost five straight. They were facing a 5-1 Broncos team led by John Elway.
Snow Follows the Packers On the Road
A mid-fall blizzard hit the Denver area. Snow covered the field with more than a foot of snow falling in the Denver area that night. While the wind chill was only 28 degrees, the swirling wind made visibility very difficult. A national television audience watching Monday Night Football got to watch the game being played in snow globe-like conditions.
The Packers had trouble with the weather early. In fact, before the game was one minute old, they were behind 14-0. On the Packers first offensive play, running back Gerry Ellis fumbled the wet football and Broncos defensive back Steve Foley scooped it up and ran 22 yards for a touchdown.
The Pack fumbled again after the ensuing kickoff with running back Jessie Clark doing the honors this time. Louis Wright of Denver ran this one back 27 yards and the Packers trailed by 14 points before the crowd could even get into their seats. In fact, Denver had scored two touchdowns on the Packers first two offensive plays of the game.
In the second quarter, barefooted Broncos kicker Rich Karlis kicked a 30-yard field goal and the Packers trailed 17-0 at the break.
The Packers Mount a Comeback
The Packers dominated the game statistically, but turnovers kept them from putting points on the board. The Packers committed five turnovers including a fumble by quarterback Lynn Dickey at the Denver four-yard line late in the second quarter. Dickey also threw one interception in the game.
But the Packers moved the ball so effectively against the Broncos, especially through the air. Dickey finished the game with 371 yards passing and completed 27-of-37 passes and one touchdown.
Ellis ran for a five-yard score in the third quarter to get the Packers to within 17-7. The touchdown was set up after safety Mark Murphy intercepted Elway deep in Denver territory.
Then Dickey found wide receiver James Lofton for a 54-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter to make it a three-point game.
Lofton had his finest game as a Packer, catching 11 passes for 206 yards which was a new career high for the future Hall of Famer. The Denver defensive backs couldn’t stay with the fleet Packers wideout, and he and Dickey torched the Broncos secondary all game long.
Unfortunately for the Packers, kicker Eddie Garcia couldn’t master the snowy, windy conditions. He missed both the field goals he tried. The first was from just 29 yards out, the second from 37. Had he hit even one of them, the game would have gone to overtime.
The Packers last gasp came with a little more than three minutes left in the game. They drove inside the Broncos 20, but Dickey was hit by Rulon Jones of Denver and fumbled. The Broncos picked up two first downs and ran out the clock.
Statistical Dominance Not Enough
The final statistics were one-sided. The Packers had 25 first downs to just 10 for Denver. They outgained the Broncos 423-193. Time of possession favored the Packers 33:36 to just 26:24 for the home team. But five turnovers doomed the Packers compared to just one for the Broncos.
The Packers started the season 1-7 under Gregg but finished with seven wins in their last eight games to finish 8-8. But in this game, sloppy play in the snow cost the Pack a crucial victory. This was a game that wasn’t soon forgotten by those who saw it.
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