Lambeau Field in December.
For football fans, those four words are enough to conjure up iconic images of football being played in the snow in one of the NFL's most storied venues. The home of the Green Bay Packers is an important place in football history first and foremost because it is home to a team that has won 13 championships, but Lambeau Field also has a certain mystic because when games are played there late in the season, weather can be a real factor.
"Going back there with the conditions and stuff, it's going to be a really fun football outing," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
When the Seahawks play the packers on Sunday, the weather shouldn't be too bad—by Green Bay-in-December standards anyway—but it could be a factor. As of Friday, the forecast for Sunday called for a high of 32 degrees, though with a 3:25 p.m. kickoff, it will be colder than that for most of the game, and a 90 percent chance of snow, with three to five inches expected to fall. Not surprisingly, the Packers would welcome such weather.
"That's the way a game is supposed to be played," Packers coach Mike McCarthy said when asked about snow games. "It's supposed to be played outside, on the grass, and this is December football. We love it."
While the Seahawks might not be as prepared as the Packers for snow, they did have the benefit an unusually cold weather in the Seattle area, and they did practice outside Thursday in freezing temperatures.
"We're going to take advantage to the fact that our weather is pretty similar to theirs and get out when we can here when it makes sense for us," Carroll said.
And perhaps most notably, the Seahawks aren't stressing out too much about this weekend's weather because they know that they have recently played in much more severe conditions when they played at Minnesota in the playoffs. On that afternoon, the kickoff temperature was minus-6 making it the third coldest game in NFL history, and it felt like minus-25 with the wind-chill factor.
"You can't get any worse than we had in Minnesota," said cornerback Richard Sherman. "Everything else in an oven compared to that."
Sherman noted that his contact lenses were freezing before that game, forcing him to wear a visor over his facemask to keep out some of the cold air. For linebacker Bobby Wagner, the cold would cause watering eyes to freeze shut.
"You can't top that," Wagner said. "What was it, negative-6? It's not going to be that, so I think we'll be fine. The only thing we need to get used to is it looked like they were slipping on film (last week), so we have to make sure we have the right cleats on."
And while Carroll won't let his team stress out over possibly playing in the snow this week—after all, both teams have to play in whatever weather comes along—he does like that his team experienced such extreme conditions last year.
"That's as extreme as you can get," Carroll said. "I love that that's happened and we've been through that and our guys know what that's all about. I don't think it's going to be quite like that, but it's good to have that in your background."
The Seahawks and the Packers have faced off 19 times, including three postseason matchups. The Seahawks currently own eight wins in the series and will play the Packers again this Sunday at Lambeau Field during Week 14.
Yet as cold as it was in Minnesota, it was dry, meaning traction wasn't an issue, and as Wagner noted, some players were slipping in the snow last week when the Packers hosted the Houston Texans. And if snow does come, that can have an effect on everything from traction on the field to ball security for runners to the ability to throw and kick a cold, slick ball.
"You have to take into consideration," said offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, who knows plenty about bad-weather football having played at Wisconsin and coached both in Green Bay and Minnesota. "There are certain things that you're taking into consideration, yes, and then you kind of have to see what happens when you get there… You have to be able to adjust. We know that the forecast is coming, but then if it's 55 and sunny, we'll go ahead and play it normal, and if it's 33 and snow, then we'll be able to make some changes. You have to determine how the field is, it could still be a fine field and guys are running around no problem in the snow, or it could get real slippery and have to make adjustments. We'll kind of go on the fly with that."
Bad weather can affect the quarterbacks more than just about any other player because they handle the ball on every play and are the ones trying to throw a cold and potentially slippery ball, but Russell Wilson, who played one season at Wisconsin, is looking forward to a potential snow game.
"I can't wait," Wilson said of returning to Wisconsin. "It's going to be awesome. Obviously I get to go back to Wisconsin. We know it's going to be a tough environment. We're really looking forward to it… We want a tough environment, we look forward to those types of situations and I'm hoping it's coming down, I'm hoping it's snowing. I'm hoping it's kind of a downpour of snow. That would be great.
"Knowing the state of Wisconsin, it will probably be snowing pretty good. Nothing really changes, you just have to protect the ball in terms of running it, same thing with throwing it, too. At the same time, you still have to have that aggressive mentality and make the plays. It's always harder in my opinion for the defense actually, because we know where we're going and they don't. So in terms of our runs, in terms of our passes, you want to take advantage of that."
Take a look at the Green Bay Packers players you can expect to see when the Seattle Seahawks take the field in Week 14 at Lambeau Field.