By SCOTT M. JOHNSON
DENVER – And you thought the Pacific Northwest was cold …
Weather reports in Colorado call for a low of 0 degrees today and the likelihood of snow, which could wreak havoc on the roads and do even worse damage to the Seattle Seahawks’ productivity.
History has shown that when it gets cold, the Seahawks usually fly south for the winter.
The last time Seattle won a game in temperatures below 40 degrees, the other George Bush was president. It was 1989, and the Seahawks eked out a 24-17 win at Cincinnati. There have only been four games in sub-40 conditions since then – all losses – and just 20 all-time, only five of which the Seahawks won.
Talk about your warm-weather team.
“I would guess it’s more of a psychological thing,” defensive end Michael Sinclair said. “In a dome, you don’t worry about the adjustments, you just show up and play.
“It makes you prepare. Make sure you have the right cleats, you have the right clothes on. But the games still have to be played.”
Of course, this used to be a dome team. Not anymore. This year, the Seahawks have already played three homes games in rainy conditions that dipped below 50 degrees at Husky Stadium.
That’s nothing compared to what the team will face today. The conditions could realistically make it the coldest game that has ever involved the Seahawks. The current low mark for a Seattle game was 26 degrees against Pittsburgh in 1992. During last season’s overtime loss at Mile High, the temperature was 27 degrees.
“It was cold, really cold,” wide receiver Sean Dawkins said of the Broncos’ 36-30 home win 356 days ago. “But I’m sure it’s going to be worse than that (today). Last year, it was a pretty nice day for that time of year. It’s going to be cold.”
There were even worse conditions in Cincinnati 13 years ago, when then-Seahawks coach Chuck Knox had shirts made up for a playoff game with the Bengals that read: “Turn up the cold.” The Cincinnati fans did exactly that, throwing snowballs at the Seahawks defense during a 21-13 Bengals win.
Preparing for today’s game – Seattle’s last game ever at Mile High – meant the team practiced outside last week, instead of inside the bubble at their Kirkland complex. The temperatures weren’t as bad, but the players got used to wearing layers under their uniforms and being able to see their own breath.
“That’s why you practice in it, so you get used to it,” cornerback Shawn Springs said after one workout last week. “If you’re a football player, you’ve played in it at some point – unless you went to one of those Florida schools.”
Added Dawkins: “Some guys are out there with no sleeves? Shoot, I’m trying to put on a parka, anything I can find.”
The parkas will have to stay on the sidelines today, but at least there have been recent advancements in protective clothing as well as heaters built in to the benches on NFL sidelines. Other than that, the players will have to brave out the elements.
“You can’t put on every piece of clothing you own, because you’ll go out there looking like the Michelin Man,” said Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren, who grew accustomed to freezing temperatures while coaching the Green Bay Packers for seven years. “You can’t do that. I can, but the players can’t.
“It’s going to be chilly, but we practiced in chilly weather all week. You just go out and play. Everyone’s got the same football, the same field and the same weather.”
No matter how much the coaches and players try to downplay it, the weather should have some effect on today’s contest.
“It’s not something you can game plan, you just deal with it,” Seahawks defensive tackle Riddick Parker said. “The reality is, (the Broncos) play in it week to week, but I’m sure they don’t do their recreation outside and they don’t enjoy the cold weather any more than we do.
“Once we run around a little bit, it won’t be that much of a factor. Hopefully, they’ll be nice enough to have some heaters or something for us.”
Once a dome team, the Seahawks are going to have to figure out how to win in the cold. They have two more games at Husky Stadium this season, and as Sinclair aptly pointed out: “It’s not like Seattle’s had tropical weather the last two months.”
Certainly not tropical. But not the Rocky Mountains, either.
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