Snowplow Game

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The Snowplow Game
Foxborostade.png
Schaefer Stadium, the site of the game
1234Total
MIA00000
NE00033
Date1982-12-12
StadiumSchaefer Stadium
LocationFoxborough, Massachusetts
RefereeBob Frederic
NetworkNBC
AnnouncersJay Randolph and Bob Griese
 
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The Snowplow Game
Foxborostade.png
Schaefer Stadium, the site of the game
1234Total
MIA00000
NE00033
Date1982-12-12
StadiumSchaefer Stadium
LocationFoxborough, Massachusetts
RefereeBob Frederic
NetworkNBC
AnnouncersJay Randolph and Bob Griese

In National Football League lore, the Snowplow Game was a regular-season game played between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on December 12, 1982, at Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The stadium's snowplow operator, Mark Henderson, cleared a spot on the snowy field specifically for New England kicker John Smith so he could kick the winning field goal to give the Patriots a 3–0 win.

Overview[edit]

The night before this game, heavy rains had soaked the Astroturf surface at New England's Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. This quickly froze over. To make matters worse, a heavy snowstorm had begun shortly after the game began. As a result, an emergency ground rule had been established for this game: the officials could call time-out, and allow the ground crew to use a snowplow to clear the yard markers. Despite this rule, the ground crew could not plow often enough to keep the field clear. The two teams remained scoreless late into the fourth quarter. With 4:45 left to go in the game and on-field conditions worsening, Patriots coach Ron Meyer ordered snowplow operator Mark Henderson to clear a spot on the field specifically for placekicker John Smith. At first, no one had thought it suspicious, assuming that the plow would go straight across, and allow for a more accurate measurement (which turned out to be 33 yards). Instead, the plow veered left, directly in front of the goal post, giving Smith a clean spot from which to kick. Matt Cavanaugh held for the kick. Miami coach Don Shula protested furiously but the field goal was good and the Patriots won the game by the final score of 3–0. The game ball was awarded to all-pro linebacker Steve Nelson, who subsequently donated it to his alma mater, North Dakota State University. Henderson also received a game ball from a grateful Meyer after the game.

1982 Week Six: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots – Game summary
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Patriots00033

at Schaefer Stadium, Foxborough, Massachusetts

  • Date: December 12
  • Game time: 1:00 p.m. EST
  • Game weather: 26°F, Snow
  • Game attendance: 25,716
  • Referee: Bob Frederic
  • TV announcers (NBC): Jay Randolph and Bob Griese
Game information
Fourth quarter
Top passers
Top rushers
Top receivers

Aftermath and legacy[edit]

Henderson, a convicted burglar on a work release program from MCI-Norfolk at the time of the game, was released from prison a few years later and currently works in the construction business. When interviewed years later about the controversy surrounding the game, Henderson jokingly remarked, "What are they gonna do, throw me in jail?"

The following year, the NFL banned the use of snowplows on the field during a game. In a 2007 interview for an NFL Network segment about the game, Shula recalled protesting the "unfair" act, to which Commissioner Pete Rozelle responded that, while he agreed wholeheartedly, without a rule explicitly barring such use of the plow, there was nothing he could do.[1]

The incident is commemorated with an interactive exhibit at the Hall at Patriot Place within the Patriots' current home, Gillette Stadium. The plow itself, a John Deere Model 314 tractor with sweeper attached, hangs from the ceiling at the exhibit.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top Ten Bad Weather Games: #7 The Snow Bowl". Youtube.com. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2012-07-28. 
  2. ^ McCarthy, Michael (2010-12-12). "Happy anniversary to NFL's 'Snowplow Game'". USA Today. 

External links[edit]