Memorable Football Games – The Ice Bowl
The Ice Bowl – I
December 31, 1967: NFL Championship – Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
Saturday, December 30, 1967, brought a "brilliant winter sun" and temperatures near 35 in Green Bay WI.

The visiting Cowboys were confident as they worked out at Lambeau Field.

  • E Frank Clarke recalled: Practice was great, the sun was shining, it was beautiful, 35 degrees. The field was fine. God, we were high. We just knew we were going to play well. When we met the Packers the year before [in the NFL title game in Dallas], we thought we could win. This time we knew we were going to win that game. No doubt whatsoever. We didn't have an ounce of doubt that we were going to play well and win.
  • DT Bob Lilly: We had our meetings. We were in great spirits. We were fi­nally relatively healthy. The Packers were beat up pretty bad. We hadn't had a great year, but we had become better and better as the year went on. ... We all knew a cold front was coming, but it wasn't supposed to get there until after the game, sometime the next night. So we weren't concerned about that.
  • Cowboys coach Tom Landry told reporters, I don't expect the cold to both­er us. All I want is a good field to play on. But he based his comment on the mid-30s predictions for Sunday's game.
But the weather forecasters were dead wrong.
  • Clarke couldn't believe it when he answered his wake-up call Sunday morn­ing and heard the operator say it was 13 degrees below zero.
    Thirteen degrees below zero? Ow, God. We weren't prepared for that, so it was demoralizing. ... It was almost like, "Are the heavens against us again? What is this? How could this be - to go from such a fantastic day?
  • Lilly: George Andrie, my roommate, got up and went to Mass ... and he came back about 7:30. I was up, watching TV. He came in and didn't say a word. ... He got a glass of water and threw water on the plateglass window. Half the water froze before it got down to the windowsill. We were pretty somber at breakfast.
  • RB Don Perkins thought the operator was joking. Then I opened the blinds, saw the ice caked on the windows, and decided maybe she wasn't.
  • The owner of Paul's Standard Oil service station was busy that morning start­ing dead cars with his jumper cables. One of his cli­ents was Willie Wood even though the Packer S from USC didn't think he'd need his car. They're gonna call this game off. They're not going to play in this.
  • Sportswriter Dick Schaap came from New York to cover the game. As he and his wife drove to breakfast, he saw a tempera­ture reading of -13 on a bank marquee. "Look, it's broken." De­spite a lifetime spent in the north, he had never seen a negative temperature.

But it wasn't broken. The temperature had actually risen to -13º once the sun came up. The wind chill was given at the time as -46º but re­calculated many years later with a revised formula at -38º.

  • Packer coach Vince Lombardi went to Mass early that morning as he did every Sunday. He said nothing to his family about the weather.
  • Steve Sabol and his father Ed, the founder of NFL Films, arrived at Lambeau Field early to position eleven cameras around the stadium. One of the came­ramen didn't appear for the pregame meeting. He had taken a few swigs of bourbon from his flask to keep warm and passed out at his post behind the scoreboard. During the game, the focus wheel on the telephoto lens of Steve's camera froze, rendering it useless.
  • The parking lots began filling up by 11 am, two hours before kickoff. Not as many tailgaters as usual but a surprising number. Amazingly, hundreds of fans occupied their seats long before kickoff.
  • Lombardi had spent $80,000 the previous spring to install a General Electric heating system that consisted of 14 miles of heating coils under the field. If ever the new device were needed, this was the day. Yet the head grounds­keeper Chuck Lane learned from his assistants after they re­moved the tarp that the field was frozen. Telling that to Lom­bardi would be like "telling him that his wife had been unfaithful ..." But he did so anyway and was met with disbelief. The system had been tested Saturday and functioned fine when the two teams had worked out. But apparently the coil system had mal­functioned in the extreme conditions. The GE salesman, who just happened to be the nephew of Bears' owner George Halas, in­sisted afterwards that the controls had been mishandled, which probably led to the rumor that Lombardi had ordered the heat turned off. In any event, the field was hard as a rock in most places and slippery in spots where ice had melted.

For both teams, nature would be the primary opponent.

  • In the Packers locker room, Wood reluctantly changed into his uniform, still not convinced the game would be played. A trainer passed out long under­wear to everyone, including the coaches. Lombardi had OKed wearing it but didn't want players to put on too much clothing to the point that they couldn't move freely. Several players requested gloves, but Vince vetoed the idea except for linemen who would not handle the ball. LB Dave Rob­inson got a pair of brown gloves and wore them without the boss noticing since they matched his skin color.
  • Andrie told his roommate Lilly when they went out for warmups (a misno­mer that day): You and I are going to have to be leaders out there today. I grew up in this weather. He talked Bob into not wearing any longhandles or warm-up jacket to show their teammates the weather was not that bad. But Lilly's resolve didn't last long. I walked out that door, and ... I said to myself, "You fool." ... I looked at George and said, "Don't ever ask me to do any­thing like this again." I froze to death. I had icicles hanging out of my nose about four inches. ... I just barely got through warmups. We went back into the locker room, and I put on everything I had. I got my longhandles out, put Saran Wrap on my feet, put an extra pair of socks on. Ernie Stautner [D-line coach] wouldn't let us wear gloves. Ernie said, "Men don't wear gloves in this league." We went back out, and every guy on Green Bay had glvoes on, and as a result we all got frostbite.
  • During warmups, players from both sides kept their hands tucked in their pants. Breathing actually hurt, burning the throat and lungs. Even the guys from the Big Ten and other northern schools had never played in conditions like these. Players likened the field to a stucco wall turned on its side or, in some spots, a glass surface.
  • Because of injuries to both Elijah Pitts and Jim Grabowski, Lombardi had signed FB Chuck Mercein in mid-season after he was cut by the Giants and Redskins. The Yale product, who would play a crucial role in the title game, looked at the Cowboys during the pregame ritual and thought they "looked like earth­men on Mars. ... Most of them had hooded sweatshirts on under­neath their helmets, which looked silly as hell. And a kind of scarf thing around their faces with the eyes cut out. They looked like monsters in a grade B movie."
  • As the crowd filled in for the kickoff, a haze of breath covered the stands. As the game progressed, some broadcasters and repor­ters had increasing diffi­culty seeing through the fog outside and the condensation on the press box windows.
  • The officials' whistles froze quickly after the kickoff forcing them to rely on hand signals. They tried again after halftime, but line judge Bill Schliebaum had his whistle freeze to his lips and lost a layer of skin yanking it loose.
  • Dallas LB Leroy Jordan: I went out there at the start of the game to show them how to be tough. In warm-ups and the first series I didn't wear any gloves, because Ernie Stautner wouldn't let the linemen wear gloves, and I was one of the leaders on defense, and I wasn't supposed to do anything to show the guys I was a pansy. But about the second series I went to the equipment manager, and I said, "Where are the gloves? I don't care what it shows. I want a pair. I'll be a pansy if you want me to. I got to have some gloves. My hands are killing me."
  • For most of the first half, one Cowboy's reaction to the cold would give the Packer defense an advantage on every play. WR Bob Hayes would tuck his hands into his pants for running plays but pull them out if a pass was called.
    WR Pete Gent regretted that he could not play against the Packers. Had I not been injured, the Ice Bowl is one game I would have played, because I knew Bob Hayes couldn't play in that cold. The nature of his hands were that he had no moisture in them. His hands were extremely dry, and that cold just split his hands open. A lot of the guys got frostbite real bad, and it still bothers them to this day. (Hayes caught three passes for 16y in the Ice Bowl.)

For the first quarter and a half, it appeared the Cowboys had capitu­lated to the elements and simply wanted to go home.

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Frank Clarke

Bob Lilly

George Andrie

Brave Ice Bowl Fans

Ice Bowl Breath Haze
Breath Haze

Dallas Warms Up for Ice Bowl
Cowboys Come Out for "Warmups"

Dallas Coach Tom Landry
Dallas Coach Tom Landry, not as
nattily dressed as usual

Packer Coaches
Icy patches on field visible in this picture of Vince Lombardi and Packer coaches

Bob Hayes, Cowboys
Bob Hayes
The Ice Bowl – II
December 31, 1967: NFL Championship – Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
Starr passes in Q1.
Starr passes in first quarter.

LeRoy Jordan and Bob Lilly in Ice Bowl

Mel Renfro

Herb Adderley

Boyd Dowler catches touchdown pass.
Dowler catches Starr's pass behind Renfro.

Starr being sacked by Cowboys.
Starr being sacked
DB Willie Wood
Willie Wood

Cowboys QB Don Meredith
Don Meredith

Packer LB Ray Nitchske
Ray Nitschke

As could be expected, the Packers adapted to the elements quicker than the visitors. The home team drove for a touchdown on its first possession.

  • After receiving a punt on the 18, Starr directed an efficient 16-play drive. He threw six passes, called eight running plays, and was helped by two penalties on the Cowboys, one for interference, the other for holding. WR Boyd Dowler caught the 8y touchdown pass.
  • Dallas DT Bob Lilly recalled: The field wasn't totally frozen when we started, but by the first quarter I had already taken my cleats off and put on my soccer shoes. We were starting to slide around. I was really having a field day then because Gale Gillingham had on his cleats, and he was trying to figure out what was going on, because I was getting around him so fast. So he put on his soccer shoes, and by the time the end of the game came, we were on a solid sheet of ice, all the way from the 20-yard line.

In the second quarter, Starr struck again.

  • Facing third-and-one on the Dallas 43, Bart did what the opponent should have expected him to do on third-and-short – go for broke. He faked to FB Ben Wilson, then fired a perfect pass to Dowler breaking past S Ray Renfro into the end zone.
  • Shortly afterwards, the Packers wasted a Herb Adderley interception.
    Dan Reeves cut his lip in the first half but didn't know it until he stood next to a heater on the sideline. The blood had to become warm enough before it would drip. Several players suffered a permanent lack of feeling in fingers and toes.
    Frank Clarke
    : I can't begin to tell you how cold it was. There was nothing warm about me. Nothing. Our hands couldn't get warm. They had these hot air blowers that seemed to blow hot air on you, but you had to be standing right in front to get any sense of beginning to warm up, and the second you stepped away from it you were cold again.
    Midway through the second quarter, a few minutes before the end of the half. I was lined up in my tight end spot, and I ran down this frozen field. You can't imagine what it's like to play on concrete in cleats - so many of the things you did well and easily were totally negated. Hell, you were just trying to stand up, just trying to stay on your feet, let alone throw a block or make a catch. I ran a play where I threw a block at a safetyman ... and I was walking back to the huddle, and I got about two feet away from Ray Nitschke, and he turned, and he started screaming at me, "Get away from me, you son of a bitch. I'll break your f****ing neck." And I looked and he had white froth in the corners on fhis mouth, and I could see this glare through his face mask. It was like Nitschke was going to literally rip me apart merely because I was so close to him. Willie Davis came over, and he put both his hands on my shoulders, and he turned me away from Ray, and he said, "Don't worry about it, man. Just go on back to the huddle." ... I thought, "What in the world is with this guy? He is really strange."
Down 14-0 under extreme duress from the conditions, the Cowboysneeded a break. They got it with four minutes left to halftime.
  • The Packers had first-and-10 on their own 26. Starr dropped back to pass, but the Doomsday Front Four broke through, causing him to retreat away from Bob Lilly into the arms of DE Willie Townes.
  • His bare hands numb, Bart dropped the ball, which George Andrie scooped up and carried into the end zone.
    Years later, Andrie recalled his fumble return touchdown: I never thought I would get into the end zone. I would run a couple of steps, slip, slide, and finally fell in. It was unreal. But at that point, it gave us a lift, and I was pretty elated about it.
    George also said, The weather was no real factor so far as I was concerned. Being from Michigan, I knew what it was like and had, in fact, played in similar conditions. But a lot of our players, particularly our offensive guys, weren't prepared to cope with the conditions.
    He also said that, while he didn't suffer frostbite in his fingers as some teammates did, it was sev eral weeks before normal feelings returned to his finger.
  • As it would turn out, Green Bay would not regain the momentum until it was almost too late.
Andrie Picks Up Starr's Fumble
George Andrie picks up Starr's fumble.
One of Lombardi's gloveless ball-handlers gave Dallas still another gift before halftime.
  • Wood, who had fumbled a punt only once in eight seasons – and that in a driving rain, watched Danny Villanueva's punt fade away from him. Willie signaled for a fair catch but muffed it. Frank Clarke pounced on the pigskin at the 17.
  • After failing to gain a first down, the Cowboys called on Villanueva for a 21y field goal to trail only 14-10 heading to the locker room despite the fact that they had managed only three first downs – none in the second quarter – and only 42y for the half.

Contrary to reports that he gave the team a tongue-lashing, Lombardi had little to say at halftime.

  • The assistants met with their subgroups. One coach told Starr that the linebackers were dropping straight back on pass plays to double team the wide receivers, open­ing up short completions to backs. Bart would remember the suggestion late in the game.
  • The Cowboys changed some blocking patterns to confuse the Packer defense.
  • QB Don Meredith, who had missed open receivers because his hands were so cold, cut a hole in his jersey where he could tuck his right hand between plays.

Bob Lilly heads for ball carrier.

The weather won the third quarter.

  • Ray Nitschke, the Packers all-star middle linebacker, lived up to his tough guy image by refusing to stand near the sideline heaters. Instead, he knelt on one knee near the coach as was his custom. But this day he began to get frostbite in one of his toes.
  • Chuck Mercein's left tricep still felt numb from a hard hit in the second quarter.
    One of the chain gang had to pull off his ski mask after part of it froze to his mouth.
    Reporters in the first row of the press box battled freezing typewriters.
    Ray Scott
    , one of the announcers for CBS-TV, insisted on keeping a window open in the broadcast booth, much to the consternation of cohorts Jack Buck and Frank Gifford. "You don't have the feel of the game otherwise," he told them. Gifford made a comment on-air that epitomizes the after­noon: "I think I'll take another bite of my coffee."
  • The contest had become a game of survival. According to Cowboys RB Don Perkins, Our game evolved to, "OK, who can keep his balance and who can't?" I remember seeing Ray Nitschke at the corner and knowing if I cut in fast, he might skid right past me - or I might slip on my ass.
    Nitschke had a different view of the game. I played pro football 15 years, and that was the greatest game I ever played in. There was so much on the line for the Packers. We were going for that third straight NFL title, and we were coming to the end of an era. Because of the emotion of the game, I was numb all over. I never even thought about my feet. But a couple of hours after the game, we were partying and all my toes blistered off. I couldn't keep my shoes on. I had the flu for a week after the game and lost 10 pounds. But it was worth it all to win like we did that day.
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The Ice Bowl – III
December 31, 1967: NFL Championship – Dallas Cowboys @ Green Bay Packers
Although neither team scored in the third period, the Cowboys' momentum carried over from the last few minutes of the first half.
  • The Doomsday Defense held the Packers to a mere 10y in the period.
  • On its first possession of the half, Dallas marched to the 13 where LB Lee Roy Caffey caused a Meredith fumble to end the threat.
  • The Cowboys threw Starr for a 16y loss and got the ball back in good field position after the punt. But that drive ended on a missed field goal from the 47.

As the final period began, Dallas had second-and-five at the 50 after a short punt.

  • On the first play, Meredith handed to RB Dan Reeves. The former South Carolina quarterback started a left end sweep but stopped and fired a touchdown pass over S Tom Brown to WR Lance Rentzel. After the PAT, Dallas led 17-14.
    Reeves had told Meredith in the huddle, Don, these guys force hard on the run. Let's try fire pitch. Dan, who played quarterback at South Carolina, had executed the play successfully several times during the season.
    Dan: Bob Jeter and Willie Wood were the cornerback and free safety on that side, and they would come up fast when they saw a run coming their way. That made it easier for Lance to get way behind them. Rentzel angled across from his flanker position as if to block Wood. Noticing that Jeter had moved up to stop the run, Reeves cocked his arm and threw downfield. He heard Jeter curse loudly as he threw. Knowing he had been suckered, Bob could only watch as Rentzel caught the ball and easily ran into the end zone.
  • The tables had turned completely. Now Green Bay's prospects seemed as bleak as those of the visitors midway through the second quarter. Between Dowler's second touchdown and Reeves' touchdown pass, the Cowboys had held the Packers' offense to -18y in 23 plays.
  • On their next two possessions, the Packers gained only 21y, 14 coming on an interference penalty. Don Chandler's field goal try from the 40 missed badly.
  • Dallas picked up two first downs to run off five minutes before punting to the GB 31 with 4:50 left.

Starr led his troops onto the field for what might be their last chance.

  • The last ten times the Packers had the ball, the most they gained on any possession was 14y.
  • Before trotting out, Bart talked to Lombardi. Vince cautioned against anything fancy. "Just try to keep moving the ball."
  • As Nitchske left the field, his feet numb and his voice almost gone, he yelled, "Don't let me down!" as he passed the offense.
  • Noticing that the Dallas LBs, Howley and Edwards, were dropping back to help on pass coverage, Donny Anderson, Paul Hornung's replacement at halfback, told his quarterback: "If you dump me the ball, I can get eight or 10y every play." This advice reinforced what Starr had heard at halftime.
  • According to the Packers, everyone was calm in the huddle, especially the Field General. "We're going in," he said.
    Starr: The look in the eyes of the players in the huddle said more about the character of that team than words can express. They were tired. They were frozen. But they knew that they could do it.
    Bowman: Bart looked at everyone in the huddle, and he didn't say anything. We knew this was it, that it was make or break time, that it was probably the last time we were going to see the ball, and nobody had to say anything. We broke the huddle and went to work.

What transpired was arguably the finest clutch drive in NFL history.

  • Starr starts with a short pass to Anderson for six after faking it to the halfback. Then Mercein angles at right end for seven and a first down.
  • Starr hits Dowler for 13. First-and-ten at the Dallas 43.
  • Then a setback as Townes throws Anderson for a 9y loss on a sweep.
  • Starr, finding no one open downfield, lobs to Anderson for 12 and hits him again for nine. Donny does an excellent job of keeping his footing as he picks his way through defenders. 2nd-and-19 has become 1st-and-10 at the 31. Two minutes left.
  • With Anderson attracting attention, Mercein tells Starr he's open on the left. As Starr drops to pass, he sees Dowler and Anderson covered but, as promised, Mercein is available. So Bart floats the ball to his fullback who catches it while backpedaling, then runs past the linebacker and cornerback before ca­reening out on the 11 to stop the clock.
    Mercein on telling Starr he was open: I'd never done that before, but I knew I was open in the flat, and I knew that the linebacker (Dave Edwards) was taking kind of a steep drop back. So sure enough, I said to Bart, "If you need me, I'll be open over on the left after I check for a blitz pickup." That was your first responsibility as a back, to check for the blitz. If they didn't come, you go out on a pattern. So when Edwards dropped straight back again, I just did a little flare, and Bart laid it out there. I was so open I think he kind of pulled the string on it a little bit, that the ball actually kind of drifted to my outside shoulder instead of catching it on my inside shoulder, which would have been easier. So I had to turn a little bit and snatched it with my hands, which is what I tried to do all the time. I've got pretty big hands and can catch the football. It wasn't a problem catch, but it looked a little more difficult.
  • For years to come, Starr will consider the next play his best call of the game: GIVE 54 or the "sucker play" (although Lombardi didn't like the word "sucker"). During the week, Vince told his quarterback to pick a good spot to use it. The formation and start of the play shout sweep, with LG Gale Gillingham pulling to influence All-Pro T Bob Lilly to move laterally. LT Bob Skoronski has to block George Andrie, whom Starr expected to try to cover the area Lilly had left. Starr fakes the pitch but hands to Mercein, who bursts through the hole Lilly vacated to the three.
    Starr: We decided to use Lilly's tremendous quickness and anticipation to our advantage. We pulled our guard, Gale Gillingham, to the right, hoping that Lilly would try to beat him to the point of attack. This would take Lilly out of the play, which was going to be run in the spot where he originally lined up. This was a risky call, but I believed the time had come to try it, as the adrenaline was running full tilt, and Lilly would likely try to make a decisive play for their defense, which he had done so many times.
    : I recognized the sucker play, but I couldn't get back. It was a play we normally could have made easily, but I slid down, and George slid down.
  • Anderson dives ahead for first-and-goal less than a yard from the goal line. If instant replay had been available, he might have been given a touchdown, which would have obviated the drama to come. The Packers call their second timeout of the half with 0:20 remaining.
  • Anderson tries the middle again but slips as he takes the handoff, losing his momentum. No gain. Starr uses his final timeout with 16 seconds left.
    Bowman: Bart turned around, and Donny was like a young colt, his legs were going all over the place. He didn't even make it to the line of scrimmage. We might have actually lost some ground on that one.
Starr jogs to the sideline for one of the most famous coach-quarterback dialogs in foot­ball history.
  • Neither suggests kicking a field goal. After nine years, Starr thinks like his coach, which is why Vince gives his quarterback so much latitude.
  • Starr wants to go with a wedge play, the running back knifing between center and guard. But he needs RG Jerry Kramer to get good footing to drive Jethro Pugh backward. The Packers have noticed from films that Pugh stands high in his down position, making him the easiest defender to cut down.
  • Starr remembers Anderson's slip on the earlier play. He tells Lombardi there was nothing wrong with the plays the Packers had run. It's just that the backs couldn't get their footing. So he suggests, "Why don't I just keep it?"
  • "Run it, and let's get the hell out of here," yells Lombardi, just as frozen as everyone else. After Starr returns to the huddle, Director of Player Personnel Pat Peppler walks over to Lombardi and asks what Starr will call. "Damned if I know," snaps Vince.
  • On the field, Mercein is "100% positive" his number will be called for an old-fashioned dive play.
    Years later, Landry recalled: We thought they would throw. We thought they probably would go to an option, a rollout run or pass so they could stop the clock [with an incompletion] if it didn't work.
    During the timeout, CBS director Tony Verna consulted his announcer about what he thought Green Bay would do. Pat Summerall voted for a rollout pass. As Summerall recalled, We had a camera in each end zone, and so what we wanted to do was isolate one on each wide receiver. Tony said to the cameraman behind the Cowboys, "You get Dowler." But at that point the cables behind the camera were frozen, and the cameraman couldn't turn it. So he had to leave it behind the Cowboys defense." So by accident the TV audience got the best view of the final play. If it hadn't been for those cables freezing, we wouldn't have had the shot, said Sum­merall.

The stage is set for one of the most historic plays in NFL history.

  • In the huddle, Kramer assures Starr he can get good footing.
  • So Bart calls "Brown right, 31 wedge." Brown right is the formation, 3 means the fullback, and 1 means the hole between center and right guard.
  • Even though the Packers have no quarterback sneak in their playbook to audible to, Starr has decided he will follow Kramer himself.
  • On the sideline, Wood and Willie Davis can't bear to watch. Out of timeouts, Lombardi wonders if there'll be enough time to run the field goal unit on if the play fails.
  • As the Packers break the huddle, the fans come to life and start to cheer.
  • Pugh and the other defensive linemen kick at the frozen field like batters digging in at the plate. But Jethro's toes are numb and he can't get a good foot­hold as he lines up for the snap. Kramer does the same next to C Ken Bowman and finds a patch of relatively soft turf for his right (pushoff) foot.
  • Kramer gets off the snap so quickly some think he was offside. With Bowman's help, he cuts Pugh down and back as ordered.
  • Mercein starts forward expecting the ball only to see Bart drive into the end zone. As Chuck falls onto the pile, he throws his hands up to make sure the officials don't call him for aiding the ball carrier. Spectators interpret his gesture as the touchdown signal.
    Bob Lilly, Pugh's counterpart on the right side of the Dallas line, recall­ed in 2015: The thing was. We were standing on ice. ... That particular area was just like ice. The only thing we could have done, we talked about it in the huddle, calling timeout and getting a screwdriver and trying to dig some footholes. We knew that they had more people to put up against us. They were gonna run up the middle cause they tried Donny Anderson on a little slant play a play or two before, and he slid down. We could tell by the way they lined up. There wasn't much you could do, 'cause they had 500 or 600 pounds vs. 270 pounds. Jethro took that. ... That wasn't Jethro's fault. It's just the way it was.
  • As Tex Maule wrote in his Sports Illustrated article: "Suddenly, for 50,000 people, spring came."
  • Don Chandler's PAT kick made the final score Green Bay 21 Dallas 17.

Starr sneaks over behind Kramer and Bowman.

Dan Reeves, as coach of the Broncos years later, said: I still don't think it was a smart play. But maybe that's the reason Lombardi won all those championship, and I haven't won any.
Mercein: Bad is only bad if it doesn't work. To me, success justifies a lot of questionable calls.
Of course, a questionable call can still produce a successful play if an offensive lineman beats the snap count. Films show that a split second before the ball was centered, Kramer picked up his right hand and started moving forward.
Since the Cowboys never watched the game films, they didn't discover that secret. So Jethro Pugh kept to himself his memory of the play. In a goal-line situation like that, you key the football. And I could visualize Kra­mer's hand moving an instant before the ball did. My first thought [after the play] was, "We got 'em. He's offsides, and that'll cost 'em five yards." I was shocked when I didn't see a flag. I kept looking around for one.
Years later, The Guy Who Got Blocked On Starr's Sneak finally got a chance to view the game films. I saw it, and I said, "My goodness, I was right."
Kramer was coy about his alleged edge. In his 1968 best seller Instant Replay, he wrote: I wouldn't swear that I didn't beat the center's snap by a fraction of a second. I wouldn't swear that I wasn't actually offside on the play.
The block made Kramer famous, which led to his book. Few acknowl­edged the contribution of the man next to him, C Ken Bowman. His role was to stay low and clog the middle to keep MLB Lee Roy Jordan from making the tackle. Kramer's job was to lift Pugh up so Bowman could get a low shot at him. Together, the two drove Pugh out of the hole. Bowman is upset that Kramer got all the attention. The older I get, the more it bothers me. I was young and stupid, and he [Kramer] patted me on the shoulder as he went up to the [television] podium after the game and said, "Let an old man have his moment in the spotlight. You've got 10, 12 more years." What I didn't realize was that blocks like that come along once in .... hell, it's been two decades now.
Kramer: My feeling is that I don't know how much he contributed. I did say to him, "You tell them about what you did because you've got a few more years. I'm talking about what I did."
Pugh: Kramer had good position, but Bowman did more of the blocking. ... I saw Kramer several months after his book came out and had become a big seller and asked him if he had any plans to give me a percentage since I had helped makehim a star.
Andrie gave the Packers credit for a great drive. I can't say enough about that drive. Under those conditions, it was an almost impossible accomplishment. They didn't drop a pass, no penalties. But he added, In my career, I went through some emotional peaks and valleys, but there is not question but that I felt worse after that loss than any I was ever involved in.

Players, media, and spectators all sensed they had just witnessed one of the greatest sporting events ever.

  • Maule on the final drive: "For the next 4 minutes the Packers bur­rowed deep into that reservoir of experience and determination that has accumlated in their unequaled three-year reign as champ­ions of the world."
  • OT Bob Skoronski, his face "marked and bloody," commented in the locker room: "This game was our mark of distinction."
  • Of the last play, Lombardi remarked, tongue in cheek, "I was thinking of the fans. I couldn't stand to think of them sitting in those cold stands for an overtime period."
  • Kramer attracted a larger-than-usual contingent of reporters and used the occasion to talk about Lombardi: Many things have been said about Coach. And he is not always understood by those who quote him. The players understand. This is one beautiful man.
Starr reflected on the game and its finish in 1987: Twenty years later, I get cold thinking about it. That day probably condenses all the feelings of playing for Coach Lombardi in one game and one moment. Before the last play, despite all the noise, it was like being in a vacuum. It was eerily quiet. All I could hear was breathing. All I could see was steam.
Anderson: My fondest reflection is of how that drive was what Vince Lombardi stood for. It was almost dark, and everyone was frozen, but we moved 68y and won the game on our last chance. Vince Lombardi coached discipline. To play for him, you must execute under tremendous pressure. You could think only of how great it would be when you won. If you lost, you were going to have to face him.
Two weeks later, in balmy Miami, the Packers easily dispatched the AFL champion Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl II, 33-14. It was the last game Lombardi coached for Green Bay.

QB Don Meredith fumbles in Q3.
Meredith fumbles in the third quarter.

Lee Roy Caffey

Ice Bowl: Cowboys Offense
Cowboys on offense

Dan Reeves

Lance Rentzel heads for the end zone.

Packer QB Bart Starrr
Bart Starr

Packer HB Donny Anderson
Donny Anderson

Packer FB Chuck Mercein
Chuck Mercein

Bob Skoronski

Packer G Jerry Kramer
Jerry Kramer

Dallas DT Jethro Pugh

Ken Bowman

Starr scores winning touchdown.
Starr(15) sneaks over as Mercein (30) raises his hands. Kramer (64) has Pugh (75) down.

Lombardi exults on sideline.

Packers fans tear down goal posts

10 minute video of game highlights - includes the two second quarter touchdowns
This 3-minute video shows the three plays right before Starr's sneak
NFL Films: #1 Worst Weather Game of All Time

References: "The Old Pro Goes in For Six," Tex Maule, Sports Illustrated, January 8, 1968
Journey to Triumph: 110 Dallas Cowboys Tell Their Stories, Carlton Stowers (1982)
"Ice Bowl remembered: What happened in the Cowboys' last playoff game at Green Bay," Dallas Morning News, December 31, 1987
The Pro Football Chronicle, Dan Daly & Bob O'Donnell (1990)
When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi, David Maraniss (2000)
Landry's Boys: An Oral History of a Team and an Era, Peter Golenbock (2005)
Black & Blue: A Smash-Mouth History of the NFL's Roughest Division, Bob Berghaus (2007)
Breathrough 'Boys: The Story of the 1971 Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys, Jaime Aron (2011)




1967: Ice Bowl – I

1967: Ice Bowl – II

1967: Ice Bowl – III


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