Not all of the Los Angeles Chargers’ defining moments have a happy ending.
Fresh off defeating the Miami Dolphins in the game forever known as the “Epic in Miami”, the Chargers went from sunny Florida to a place that may have been colder than Antartica on January 10, 1982.
The Chargers ventured into Riverfront Stadium that day to face the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Championship Game. The Bengals had defeated the Chargers by 23 points in an earlier meeting that season, but that wasn’t the biggest worry in this game. It wasn’t the Bengals defense that threatened to slow down the league’s most high-powered offense most.
It was the weather and more specifically, the bitter cold.
Factoring in wind chill, this was the coldest game ever played in NFL history and to this day, still is. The temperature that day was -9 degrees but with the wind chill, it felt like -59. A far cry from the warmth in Miami just one week earlier.
The coldest air temperature game in NFL history is still the Ice Bowl, the 1967 NFL Championship Game between the Green Bay Packers and Dallas Cowboys. It was -13 on that day.
Amazingly, Forrest Gregg, the head coach of the Bengals at this time, played on that Packers team. He would get the same result here that his Packers got in 1967.
The Bengals jumped out to a 10-0 first-quarter lead in this game and never looked back. Kellen Winslow, the hero from the week before, caught a 33-yard touchdown to draw the Chargers within three points, but the Bengals answered with another score to take a 17-7 halftime lead.
It was clear that the Chargers were affected by the cold and at one point, the beard of Dan Fouts even had icicles forming on it.
Bengals quarterback Ken Anderson played an efficient game, passing for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He outdueled Fouts, who threw two interceptions in the game.
When you look at the box score, there are no crazy stats in this game. In fact, most of the statistics are identical, all except for one — turnovers.
The Bengals turned the ball over just once while the Chargers coughed it up four times. All of this led to a 27-7 Bengals victory and the Chargers falling short of their first-ever trip to the Super Bowl.