Saturday’s reignition of a long-time rivalry and the 50th-anniversary celebration of the Immaculate Reception between the Steelers and Raiders is much anticipated. But it is hard to ignore that the weather conditions could be at an all-time low for a game played in Pittsburgh.
Snow is already on the ground in Pittsburgh, and the forecast calls for winds that could reach up to 40 miles per hour, and temperatures that could go below five degrees. It will be the coldest game the Steelers have played since their game against the Browns on December 31, 2017, where the game time temperature was 11 degrees. Add a sprinkle of some possible flurries along with it, and wintry conditions are afoot.
But what is the coldest game ever played in Pittsburgh? That prestigious honor would belong to a 1989 game between the Steelers and the New England Patriots on December 17th that saw the Steelers play in three-degree weather on the day, although there was no snow to contend with that day. The coldest game Pittsburgh ever played came in 1977 in Cincinnati, when it was two degrees.
However, on that fateful day in 1989, a young Steelers team that was on the rise met with a bad Patriots team, and it led to a convincing 28-10 victory for Pittsburgh. A resurgent Tim Worley, who rebounded from a disappointing rookie season, scored the first touchdown of the game.
On this day, a cold weather game played out just as one would imagine. Pittsburgh scored all four of their scores on the ground. Louis Lipps took a reverse for 58 yards to the house, while Worley added a touchdown and Merrill Hoge added yet another.
All in all, Worley, Hoge, and Lipps combined for an impressive 219 yards and four touchdowns on 39 carries. Worley went over 100 yards on 19 carries. On the day, quarterback Bubby Brister threw just 16 passes for 158 yards, completing just nine of the attempts.
On the Patriots’ side, nothing worked. A staunch Steelers defense clamped down, for the most part, allowing just 3.5 yards per carry on the day. It forced quarterback Marc Wilson to throw the ball 56 times through 20 miles per hour winds, resulting in only a touchdown and two interceptions. Throughout the day, Pittsburgh held star wide receiver Irving Fryar at bay to shut down the offense.
All in all, this played out perfectly for the Steelers. In a cold game with windy conditions, the Patriots just could not pass the ball consistently and their run game was snuffed out. Meanwhile, the Patriots had no answer for the Steelers’ rushing attack. That is likely the gameplan yet again on Saturday.
While the game in 1989 is likely to be colder than Saturday night’s clash, the windchill for Saturday’s game could reach as low as negative twenty degrees. In 1989, it only reached negative 12 degrees. So, the players could be feeling even colder than they would have in 1989. But take a lesson from this game, if the Steelers want to win on Saturday, they have to win in the trenches.