The Buccaneers will be on the road for the NFC Championship game, with expected conditions that might feel a bit like quarterback Tom Brady’s old home.
The forecast for the game against the Packers at Lambeau Field Sunday afternoon includes temperatures below 30 degrees, an environment Brady became very familiar with as a member of the Patriots for 20 seasons.
According to Stathead, during his tenure in New England, Brady played in 29 games with a kickoff temperature of 29 degrees or lower. The Patriots went 25-4 in those games, losing three times in the regular season and once in the playoffs.
On the other hand, in franchise history the Buccaneers have played in only 11 games (most recently in 2016) with a kickoff temperature of 29 degrees or lower, losing all 11.
So, what would Brady tell his teammates that may have less experience with football in cold weather?
“Just got to have some mental toughness and wear some warm clothes and be ready to go,” Brady said Saturday after the Buccaneers eliminated the Saints in the divisional round. “It’s chilly, man. That’s January football in the Northeast, Midwest. We’ll be prepared.”
Asked Wednesday if he’s operating any differently in preparation for the frosty temperatures, Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians brushed off any concern.
“I don’t really consider 28 degrees cold,” Arians said. “I grew up in the North. We’ve got a lot of guys that have played in Green Bay and played in colleges up north. The weather won’t affect the ballgame, I don’t think, at all.”
The conditions, at the very least, won’t catch Brady off guard.
Brady’s first sub-30 game was a memorable one in January 2002, when he led the Patriots to a 16-13 overtime victory over the Raiders in a divisional-round matchup now known as the “Tuck Rule Game.”
Among Brady’s other winter highlights are two postseason games en route to the Super Bowl in the 2004 season. He and the Patriots first knocked off Peyton Manning and the Colts, 20-3, in 25-degree weather at Gillette Stadium. Then, a week later, they beat Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, 41-27, in 11-degree weather at Heinz Field.
Brady also was the Patriots’ starter for the coldest game in franchise history, a 17-14 win over the Titans in the divisional round in January 2004, in which the temperature at game time was 4 degrees.
Brady’s most recent sub-30 game came in January 2019 at Arrowhead Stadium for the AFC Championship. In 19-degree conditions considered to be an “Arctic blast,” Brady and the Patriots edged Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs, 37-31, in overtime.
In 14 playoff games with a kickoff temperature of 29 degrees or lower, Brady is 13-1, his only loss coming against the Ravens in January 2010. In those 14 playoff games, he completed 63.1 percent of his passes, averaged 260 passing yards, and threw 28 touchdown passes along with 15 interceptions.
Brady is not the only quarterback with experience in the cold. Aaron Rodgers of the Packers has played in a comparable number of games with a kickoff temperature of 29 degrees or lower. Since Rodgers took over as the starter in 2008, the Packers have played in 32 such games with a record of 23-8-1.
Six of those games were in the playoffs, with Rodgers posting a 5-1 record, the loss being 23-20 to Colin Kaepernick and the 49ers in a wild-card matchup in January 2014.
In those six playoff games, Rodgers posted numbers in line with Brady, completing 63.7 percent of his passes, averaging 251 passing yards, and throwing 11 TD passes along with just two interceptions.
With both quarterbacks performing well in the cold in the past, Arians noted the element to watch is the wind. As of now, winds are only expected to be 4 miles per hour at game time.
“The wind is a much, much bigger factor,” Arians said. “I don’t consider it cold unless it’s single digits. It’s not going to affect the game at 28 degrees, but the wind really affects the game.”
Regardless, Brady seems to be embracing the circumstances.
“This is one of the coolest stadiums in the league to play in,” he said. “I know they’re excited, we’ll be excited, and it will make for a great football game.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.