Our congratulations one last time to Antonio Cromartie and LaRon Landry for their participation in Sunday’s Pro Bowl at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.
Of course, it was a long Hawaiian afternoon for anyone associated with the AFC’s pass defense as the Nationals racked up 420 passing yards, six TDs to one INT and a Pro Bowl-record 62 points in the pullaway over the Americans. But Cro and LaRon, playing as secondary backups and on special teams, did make their positive contributions as well in the annual all-star game.
Cromartie had three first-half solo tackles in the game. The first came after a 5-yard first-quarter reception by none other than Giants WR Victor Cruz. The others came after receptions by Vincent Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald.
Cro also had an offside on a field goal attempt that wiped out an AFC interception-return TD, but that sounds a little more devastating than it was. He was premature in timing the field goal snap on the first play of the fourth quarter. NFC holder Thomas Morstead, with No. 31 closing in, picked up the snap and tried to pass to eventual Pro Bowl MVP Kyle Rudolph, but Eric Berry picked the pass and took off for an 86-yard score.
Cromartie also couldn’t handle a kickoff-return pitch from Joshua Cribbs late in the third quarter, with the fumble being charged to Cribbs and the NFC recovering at the AFC-11 to set up the above nullified field goal. But Cro also later took a lateral from C.J. Spiller on another kickoff return for 23 yards to start the drive that ended with A.J. Green’s third TD reception and the game’s last score.
Landry had one solo tackle, also after a Cruz catch, but otherwise had a low-key game.
Hot and Cold
The weather was a cloudy, breezy 78° for the Pro Bowl, a far cry from this morning in North Jersey, where it’s 28, snowing and with the threat of freezing rain continuing through midday. Last Friday it was 7° in the neighborhood surrounding the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center, and after a brief spring fling Wednesday with temps expected to rise to 60, it’s back into the freezer into and through Super Bowl Sunday.
Which naturally raises the question about the weather exactly a year from now, when the first outdoors Super Bowl in the Northeast will be played at MetLife Stadium. The NFL and the region did a little preview of Super Bowl XLVIII last week but what about snow, freezing rain, winds?
What about the cold? Let’s start with that. It seems Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league are embracing a cold-weather game most of all. It would harken back to the good old days of NFL championships on “the frozen tundra.” Here are the “unthawed three” big games in league history, along with some coincidental notes on wind-chill at each of the games (home teams in CAPS):
Dec. 31, 1967 — PACKERS 21, Cowboys 17, Lambeau Field.
Temp: –13° F. Wind: 14.5 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –48.
“The Ice Bowl” has always been the NFL’s cold standard, the game when officials shouted rather than tweeted so their metal whistles wouldn’t bond to their lips, a fan in the stands died of exposure and several players were treated for frostbite. The agreed-upon temp at the 1 p.m. CST kickoff has always been minus-13, may also have been at the end, and so it is altogether appropriate that Packers QB Bart Starr sneaked over the goal line with 13 seconds to play for the TD that won the NFL’s ’67 championship.
The 48-below-zero wind-chill is also legendary, although the National Weather Service switched to a more scientific and realistic wind-chill equation in 2001. In NOAA’s online feature on the game, the “new wind-chill” for the game was –36° at kickoff, and during the game it ranged from –37 to –33, getting slightly “balmier” in the third quarter.
Jan. 10, 1982 — BENGALS 27, Chargers 7, Riverfront Stadium.
Temp: –9°. Wind: Northwest, 20-35 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –59°.
”The Freezer Bowl” was the quintessential game demonstrating that West Coast teams don’t like traveling to the frozen Midwest/Northeast. This AFC title game has always been held up as the wind-chill winner at –59, but that had to be taken near the opening kickoff with a 27-mph wind gust. NOAA’s readings from the nearby Cincinnati airport showed temps rising slightly and the winds staying steady at 23 mph. Translated to the “new” readings, the wind-chill that day fluctuating between –37 and –23. Not cold enough to force those Bengals O-linemen to put on long sleeves, yet still, in NOAA’s opinion, “arguably the most brutal football weather in NFL history.”
Jan. 20, 2008 — Giants 23, PACKERS 20, OT, Lambeau Field.
Temp: –1°. Wind: West 12 mph. Recorded Wind-Chill: –23°.
On the way to their first Super win over the Patriots, the Giants had to vanquish Brett Favre and the Pack in their frozen Lambeau shrine. Favre played like a 78-year-old guy in search of his heated blankie rather than the 38-year-old master of the tundra that he used to be, with a horrid fourth quarter and a game-chilling interception to Corey Webster on the second play of overtime. The wind-chill for this game was listed as minus-23 but we’re not sure where that came from. The recorded temp and wind at kickoff produce a minus-19° wind-chill. Still pretty darned cold.
To bring it all home for the Jets, here are the three coldest games we know of in Green & White annals:
Dec. 26, 1993 — BUFFALO 16, Jets 14, Rich Stadium
Temp: 9°. Wind: WNW 23 mph, gusting to 30 mph. Stated Wind-Chill: –28°
This appears to be the Jets’ coldest game ever. Just ask Cary Blanchard, who tried three times to put a leather rock through the uprights, from 27, 41 and 42 yards away, for the points that might have won this game, only to have each kick pushed wide left by the Western New York winds. Again, not sure for the source of the official wind-chill. With the old formula, it would’ve been –32, with the gusts dropping it to –37. Under the new formula, the WC would have varied from –13 to –15.
Dec. 17, 1972 — Browns 26, JETS 10, Shea Stadium
Temp: 24°. Wind: WNW 40-45 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –15°
The season finale at Shea between the Browns, who had already clinched the AFC’s one wild-card slot, vs. the Jets, who were shooting for 8-6 but were out of the running. With Joe Namath and Al Woodall sidelined, Bob Davis started at QB and completed five of 12 passes for 44 yards (24 net after losing 20 yards on three sacks). Winning QB Mike Phipps was more effective in the gusts, although not much more accurate at 7-for-17. The new wind-chill hovered around 3° to 4°.
Dec. 23, 1989 — Bills 37, JETS 0, Meadowlands
Temp: 16°. Wind: NNW 13-20 mph. “Old” Wind-Chill: –11°
Another cold, frosty one poured against Buffalo, this one at home, and another bitter defeat, not only due to the atmosphere (new wind-chill from 1 to –2) as Joe Walton coached his final game for the Jets before being dismissed.
That regime change, to GM Dick Steinberg/HC Bruce Coslet, didn’t generate much more warmth in the ensuing four seasons. Now, after a 2012 season-finale loss to the Bills (15° wind-chill), it’s up to the semi-new regime of John Idzik/Rex Ryan to generate traction. Super Bowl XLVIII? Not even going there at this time. Let’s get through XLVII in balmy New Orleans (expected game-time weather inside the Mercedes-Benz Superdome: 70°, wind of 0 mph), then take on one day at a time, one game at a time in ’13 en route to becoming an all-weather perennial contender.
Tags: Aloha Stadium, Antonio Cromartie, Cary Blanchard, Joe Walton, John Idzik, LaRon Landry, MetLife Stadium, Rex Ryan
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Seasoned readers of New York Jets coverage in the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger will be saddened to hear that Don Williams, the team’s long-time beatwriter into the mid-Nineties, died Thursday after a short illness. He was 79.
I sat next to Don for a couple of seasons along the “Jersey wall” of the old pressroom at the Jets’ former Hofstra University headquarters when I started covering the Jets as a beatwriter in 1994. He was a venerable newspaperman of five decades, with the Long Island Press before coming to the Ledger. In the Sixties he covered the Giants, and so covered a certain young, hard-working tight end Joe Walton. Don moved on to the Jets beat and was there to cover Walton again when he took over as Jets head coach from 1983-89.
Don had a staccato writing style and a serious demeanor but he was a passionate man who had time to break me in with invaluable advice during a period when the Jets were headed down before they headed back up. He had a fondness for Leo Durocher and the Brooklyn Dodgers, Frank Sinatra, and the Island. He’ll be missed.
The Williams wake will be held Monday at Donohue-Cecere Funeral Home, 290 Post Ave., Westbury, N.Y., and the funeral will be held the next day at Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury. We send our condolences to Don’s family.
Tags: Don Williams, Joe Walton, Leo Durocher, Long Island Press, Newark Star-Ledger
Posted in Randy Lange | 24 Comments »