AFC title game could be coldest game in Patriots history

John Tomase
January 14, 2019 - 3:53 pm
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The Patriots pride themselves on being able to win in the cold, but it's possible they've never faced what awaits them on Sunday in Kansas City.

According to multiple forecasts, the AFC Championship game has an outside chance of being the coldest contest in Patriots history.

An arctic blast is moving into Missouri this weekend and it will drop temperatures from the 30s and 40s into the single digits. Sunday's forecast low of 6 degrees would represent the third-lowest temperature in team history, trailing only a 1989 loss at Pittsburgh played in 3-degree temperatures and the 2004 playoff tilt against the Titans in Foxboro that was 9 degrees at kickoff. The Patriots won that one 17-14 after breaking up a desperation Steve McNair heave in the final moments.

If the current forecast holds, the Patriots will almost certainly play only their 10th game in the teens or lower, per footballreference.com. They're 5-4 in the previous nine efforts, including a 35-3 loss in Kansas City in 9-degree temps on Dec. 12, 1963.

The last time they appeared in a bitterly cold playoff game, they visited Pittsburgh on an 11-degree day in 2005 and whupped the 15-1 Steelers, 41-27. That game was memorable for Rodney Harrison's 87-yard interception return that sent the Patriots into halftime with an insurmountable 24-3 lead, but also for quarterback tom Brady playing through a 103-degree temperature and serious case of the flu.

Speaking of Brady, he's 5-1 in games played at 20 degrees or lower, but his numbers have understandably suffered. He has completed 125 of 223 passes (56.1 percent) for 1,307 yards, 10 touchdowns, and four interceptions while posting a QB rating of 80.7.

His wins have come in the regular season against the Jets (2017) and Broncos (2016) and in the playoffs against the Titans, Steelers, and Ravens. His only loss in the extreme cold came in a blowout to the Ravens during the 2009 playoffs. Ray Rice took the opening handoff to the house and the Patriots never recovered in a 33-14 loss with the mercury reading 20 degrees.

Brady went 23 of 42 for only 154 yards, two touchdowns, and three interceptions that afternoon. He has topped 207 yards only once in the extreme cold. In a wild 2015 playoff win over the Ravens, he threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns.

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