The temperature only reached 4 degrees and with the wind chill it was 7 below zero.
And I was there.
I will go to playoff games in ANY weather.
Regular season games are different story. I am a in full blown woos mode.
I rather sell these games than sit in the rain or cold.
But the playoffs are for all the marbles.
The Patriots faced the Titans in a divisional playoff game on January 10, 2004.
Of course the game was on a Saturday night so the sunshine wasn’t an option to heat up our frozen backfields.
It was going be cold. Or in Boston speak, Wicked Friggin’ Cold!
My friend, who hasn’t gone to many Pats games never mind games that had arctic temperatures, showed up to my house like he was going on a job interview.
I looked at him and said you got to be kidding me.
I redressed him. I gave him socks. My dad’s down Air Force jacket.
If I didn’t take hold of the situation, my friend would have died from frost bite next to me. I didn’t want that on my conscious!
After my friends was properly outfitted, we met my other friend and headed down to chilly (understatement of the year) Foxboro.
Did we go right before game time? Hell no!
We did the mandatory 4 hours of tailgating that any Pats fan must abide by.
After applying hand/foot warmers and enough layers that I looked like the little kid in Christmas Story, if I fell over I wouldn’t be able to get up.
The Tailgate captain, my friend who organizes every tailgate, had the tents and propane heaters ready to go. However, even these amenities didn’t really save us from this Frozen Hell.
Beers froze solid! Yes, our beers froze solid and we had to thaw them out by the fire. We turned to the hard liquor to try to heat up our chilly insides.
After surviving the below zero tailgate, we entered Gillette stadium. We looked like a pack of mummies. All you could see was our eyes through the slits between our jackets and knitted caps.
My friend and got to our frozen plastic seats that felt like a cold toilet in the middle of the night. We wrapped ourselves in blankets. This is the first and LAST time that we will ever get this close again!
We all made sure our gloves were always on. Bathroom. Buying a beer. It didn’t matter. If you exposed any part of your skin it would feel like 2 million pins and needles.
The Patriots game was hard faught. The Titans and Pats were trading blows and it would come down to whose defense would make a play in the “Ice Bowl”.
New England had a 14-7 lead going into the third quarter highlighted by a 41 yard bomb from Tom Brady to Bethel Johnson.
Co-NFL MVP Steve McNair connected with Derrick Mason on an 11 yard touchdown to tie the game at 14.
Both teams were not making it easy on the fans. Why couldn’t this game be a blowout either way?
I was losing feeling in my right foot. Would I sacrifice my limb for the Patriots?
Hell yes, it’s the playoffs!!
Adam “Mr. Clutch” Vinateiri came through yet again for New England. He connected on a 46 yard field goal which must have felt like kicking a bowling ball in sub zero temperatures.
The Titans were far from dead. McNair led Tennessee to the 33 yard line in the waning minutes of the game.
Those who braved frozen Gillette stadium, must have been saying, “You guys can’t lose this game because I can’t feel my legs (or insert any applicable body part)!”
After a few penalties, McNair threw a jump ball to Drew Bennett on 4th and 12. The ball bounced out of his hands and fell to the rock solid ground.
The Patriots held and saved 68,000 from certain hypothermia.
Everyone jumped in the cars happy and thawed on their way home.
However, there were some causalities after the “Ice Bowl” concluded.
I was diagnosed with “frost nip” which is a mild form of frost bite on my right foot.
My buddy, who isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, applied a foot warmer to his skin and sock rather than his sock and shoe!!
He ended up getting severe burns on his foot and almost had to get a skin graph. He avoided the graph but had a limp and scar for a souvenir.
My friend wanted to write the foot warmer company to complain. And I said, “You might as well write it on construction paper with crayons!” “The directions are on the package and its only common sense, hello!”
We survived the Ice Age and the Patriots survived the playoffs.
They would go on to win their second Super Bowl in three years.
Joe Gill is a featured blogger for Boston Sports Then and Now .