NFL braces for a snowy Sunday

Published: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 20, 2005 at 2:01 a.m.
Brrrr! There could be snow at both NFL conference championship games.
Forecasters are calling for gametime temperatures of 20 degrees and a chance of snow showers for Sunday night's Patriots-Steelers AFC championship game. There is a chance of heavier snowfall earlier in the day, but it is expected to stop by kickoff.
The weather could be worse across the state in Philadelphia for the NFC championship game between the Falcons and Eagles in the afternoon. Snow is predicted this weekend, with anywhere from a minimal amount to a major storm.
Similar conditions in Foxboro last weekend might have aided the Patriots in their 20-3 victory over the Colts, whose Peyton Manning-led passing offense was limited to a field goal on a snowy, cold day.
It was dry but chilly for the Steelers' 20-17 overtime win Saturday over the Jets, with gametime temperatures of 28.
NFL rules say the field should be covered on the day and night before a game if there is any chance of precipitation. The Steelers usually keep Heinz Field covered, though it was left uncovered during some recent warm days to encourage the grass to grow.
The weather could be a factor in Philadelphia, considering the Falcons play in a dome - although they went to Lambeau Field and beat the Green Bay Packers in snow two years ago in the playoffs.
Falcons quarterback Michael Vick said that was the only time he's ever played in snow. Eagles QB Donovan McNabb grew up in Chicago, so he's used to cold weather. ''We've come out on top when I've played in it, so hopefully we can continue that streak,'' McNabb said.
It was snowing and the temperatures were in the low 20s on Wednesday, but that didn't affect Eagles coach Andy Reid, who wore shorts.
''Sometimes I forget to put my sweats on before I go out,'' Reid said.
The Steelers stayed inside to practice on a snowy day in Pittsburgh.
''When the elements get bad, you have to make sure you're mentally sharp,'' Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. ''Fundamentals come back into play big time.''

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