For the first time in his career, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will lead his team into an NFC Championship Game on their home turf. However, having the home-field advantage does not guarantee success against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, even at Lambeau Field. After all, for Sunday afternoon’s game, the quarterback on the other sideline is Tom Brady.
Tom Brady: Snow miser
When you spend nearly two decades as a starting quarterback for a team in Massachusetts, you’re bound to rack up a few cold-weather wins every now and then. That’s exactly what Tom Brady did at the helm of the New England Patriots from 2001 to 2019.
As a Patriot, Tom Brady started 29 games where the temperature was 29 degrees or lower. His record in those games is 25-4, and only one of those losses has come in the playoffs.
The most memorable — and controversial — of those wins came in the final game at the old Foxboro Stadium in 2001. In a driving snowstorm, the Patriots faced the Oakland Raiders in the AFC divisional playoff. With the help of the infamous “tuck rule” and two clutch kicks from Adam Vinatieri, New England survived. They went on to win their first Super Bowl that season.
Just before the 2018 AFC Championship against Kansas City — which marked Brady’s 25th cold-weather win — CBS NFL analyst Jay Feely asked him about the secret to his winter success. Brady supplied him with the perfect answer.
My mind doesn’t shut down in the cold, but their bodies do.Tom Brady, former New England Patriots QB
What about the rest of the Buccaneers?
The Buccaneers’ franchise history of dealing with cold weather is not as bright. According to the Boston Globe, the Bucs have played in only 11 games in franchise history where the air temperature was 29 degrees or lower at kickoff. They have not won a single one of those games.
The team’s most iconic winter victory came at Veterans Stadium in the 2002 NFC Championship Game against the Philadelphia Eagles. There, the Buccaneers upset the heavily-favored Eagles 27-10 to reach the Super Bowl in the final game ever played at “The Vet”. Even for that game, the air was slightly above freezing at kickoff.
This season’s Buccaneers have not had to face anything like they are prepared to face Sunday afternoon at Lambeau. While Tom Brady has experience with the cold, most of the rest of the team does not — and Brady will not be on the field 100% of the time. The rest of the time, it will be up to the Tampa Bay defense to adapt and learn quickly.
This is easier said than done when the quarterback they are facing is presumptive league MVP Aaron Rodgers, who will have the scattered home crowd behind him.
Weather conditions for the NFC Championship
It won’t exactly be the Ice Bowl in Green Bay, but it won’t be very pleasant for either team. As mentioned above, the temperature is expected to reach 29 degrees at kickoff. The wind will reach as high as nine miles per hour blowing out to the west, knocking the temperature down to 21 degrees.
Snow has fallen early Sunday morning in Green Bay but is expected to taper off by kickoff time. The skies should clear entirely by halftime, while temperatures fall to around 24 degrees by the game’s end. With wind chill, this would come out to 17 degrees.
Weather information courtesy of the Weather Channel.