Can a West Coast team win in Minnesota cold? Yes, if it's not the Rams

Can a West Coast team win in Minnesota cold? Yes, if it's not the Rams
Vikingskicker Fred Cox adds the extra point after a touchdown against the Rams during a playoff game Dec. 29, 1969, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minn. (Associated Press)

When the Seattle Seahawks take the field for their playoff game Sunday, they will become the third West Coast team to play an outdoor postseason game in frigid Minnesota.

The first two were the Rams and 49ers in the pre-Metrodome years, when the Vikings played at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington. After playing indoors from 1982 through 2013, the Vikings have returned to outdoor home games for the last two seasons at TCF Bank Stadium, making Minnesota weather a factor again.

The Seahawks face a game-day high temperature of 4 degrees, ESPN reports, which would make Sunday's game the coldest home playoff game in Vikings history.

So how did those California teams do back in the Bud Grant era? One team came away happy, the other repeatedly frustrated.

Dec. 27, 1969: Vikings 23, Rams 20

Weather: 10 degrees, wind chill minus-1

The Times headline: Rams let the big one get away, 23-20

The big play: Vikings defensive end Carl Eller sacks Rams quarterback Roman Gabriel for a fourth-quarter safety.

The weather factor: Times reporter Bob Oates, citing a dropped pass by tight end Billy Truax that would have given the Rams a first down on the Vikings' 10-yard line, said: "This was the one play of the afternoon that may have been clearly influenced by the cold weather. If so, that is reason enough for pro football to cease playing its big games in this climate."

Dec. 27, 1970: 49ers 17, Vikings 14

Weather: 10 degrees, wind chill minus-5

The Times headline: 49ers do it the Viking way -- with muscle

The big play: 49ers quarterback John Brodie scores a fourth-quarter touchdown on a 1-yard sneak to give San Francisco a 17-7 lead, putting victory out of reach for Minnesota.

The weather factor: According to Times reporter Mal Florence, "Unlike George Allen, who brought his Rams into the ice country a week before the 1969 title game, 49er coach Dick Nolan didn't elect to arrive until Friday. 'Why freeze for four days when you only have to freeze for three hours?' shrugged Brodie."

Dec. 29, 1974: Vikings 14, Rams 10

Weather: 28 degrees, wind chill 19

The Times headline: Vikings make the Rams pay for their mistakes, 14-10

The big play: In the third quarter, after marching 98 yards, the Rams have second-and-goal at the Vikings' 1-foot line. Tom Mack is called offside. Two plays later, James Harris throws an interception.

The weather factor: Not much. As Times reporter Bob Oates noted: "Both teams got a break on a wind free, 31-degree afternoon. They both like to pass and each defense excels at rushing the passers, all of which requires the kind of weather they had."

Dec. 26, 1976: Vikings 24, Rams 13

Weather: 19 degrees, wind chill 7

The Times headline: Vikings take advantage of L.A. mistakes, 24-13

The big play: Vikings cornerback Bobby Bryant returns a blocked field goal attempt 90 yards for a first-quarter touchdown.

The weather factor: "Football wasn't meant to be played on a day when it's under 20 and freezing," wrote Oates. "On the 90-yard touchdown play, the weather may have influenced Steve Preece's slow hold after Rich Saul's high snap." Oates noted that Viking linebacker Matt Blair's blocked punt in the second quarter came after punter Rusty Jackson dropped the ball. "Earlier this year, in football weather, Jackson had been [Coach Chuck] Knox's best punter yet. He still is, no doubt, but not in a Minnesota winter."


Stats from Times archives and