Freezer Bowl II

BY GEOFF HOBSON

Bengals right tackle Willie Anderson, who didn't practice all week, walked into nine-degree temperature Sunday morning that was really 20-below wind chill.

But after moving around a little bit, Anderson decided to play anyway Sunday against Jacksonville with the left ankle he sprained last week in Tennessee.

How cold was it?

It's the coldest Cincinnati home game since the infamous "Freezer Bowl," when the Bengals beat the Chargers, 27-7, in the AFC championship game on Jan. 10, 1982 amid minus-9 degrees with a minus-59 degree wind chill.

Earlier in the week, Jacksonville running back Fred Taylor ripped the Paul Brown Stadium grass, calling it "a dirt bike track." But he got a skating rink instead, thanks to a massive dip in temperatures and Sunday morning snow showers.

The only lines visible on the white field were painted orange on the goal lines, end lines and sidelines.

Bill Connelly, Bengals business manager, said the club didn't cover the field with a tarpaulin Friday because the paint on the field had yet to dry.

During Saturday's all-day rain, the Bengals and referee Jeff Triplette agreed a tarp wouldn't help and kept it uncovered. Plus, there was fear more damage would be caused when the weather froze and the tarp had to be dug out of the field

The drop in temperature came overnight. Connelly said the field's heating system didn't adjust to such a huge drop and didn't generate enough power to melt the snow.

Last week had to seem like last year for Jacksonville. They rolled over Arizona, 44-10, last Sunday in 61-degree weather at home.

The closest thing to "Freezer Bowl," conditions came when the Bengals beat the Bears, 16-10, five years and a week ago on Dec. 10, 1995. Quarterback Jeff Blake threw a touchdown pass to wide receiver Darnay Scott and Doug Pelfeey kicked three field goals.

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