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Minnesota Vikings brace for one of coldest games in history

MINNEAPOLIS -- Conversation starters were easy Wednesday in the Minnesota Vikings' locker room since everyone was talking about the weather and potential misery factor at TCF Bank Stadium in Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against Seattle.For...

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MINNEAPOLIS - Conversation starters were easy Wednesday in the Minnesota Vikings’ locker room since everyone was talking about the weather and potential misery factor at TCF Bank Stadium in Sunday’s NFC wild-card playoff game against Seattle.
Forecasts of zero degrees for the 11 a.m. kickoff include wind chills plunging to minus-20 or more throughout the afternoon. It would be among the coldest games in NFL history.
“This is nothing,” scoffed defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd. “This is what we do. This is why we’re in Minnesota in the first place. It’s just an element we’ve got to get through. We can’t make it an advantage. Mother Nature did that. We’re just embracing it. It’s a mind-set.”
Brutal conditions are part of postseason lore. The Vikings burnished theirs playing in the snow, ice and wind at Metropolitan Stadium from 1961-81 before moving indoors to the Metrodome.
Barring a string of upsets and the Vikings playing Green Bay in the NFC championship game, Sunday will be their final outdoor game in two seasons at the University of Minnesota. U.S. Bank Stadium is scheduled to open later this year on the site of the old Metrodome.
“I see it as an advantage for us, being used to it,” right guard Mike Harris said. “For me, it is. I normally wear long sleeves. It doesn’t bother me. I sweat enough. I have a high body temperature. I’ll be fine.”
The Vikings practiced outdoors Wednesday at Winter Park. One of their practice fields was preserved under a heated tarp late this season to keep the team acclimated to the cold.
It was 24 degrees at kickoff Sunday night at Lambeau Field, where the Vikings clinched the NFC North division by defeating the Green Bay Packers 20-13.
In their 49-17 blowout of the New York Giants on Dec. 27 at TCF Bank Stadium, it was 13 degrees with a minus-10 wind chill.
The coldest game during Minnesota’s two-year tenure there was 12 degrees on Nov. 30, 2014, against Carolina. The Vikings won 31-13.
“We’ve luckily been in some of these element games before,” said Vikings coach Mike Zimmer. “It’s just something that we’ll deal with.
“The first thing we need our fans to do is make an advantage for us. They need to be loud and make sure they have some tailgating beforehand so they stay warm.”
Severe cold can impact play calling, according to Zimmer.
“The wind affects things more than anything does,” he said. “The cold is the cold. The ball’s going to be harder, a little more slippery. It’s going to (take) a lot of concentration when guys are on the field. Don’t really worry about the cold; worry about playing. Tackling will be big because of that.”
Per their rental agreement, the Vikings paid to install heating coils underneath the FieldTurf playing surface at TCF Bank Stadium to prevent it from freezing. A tarp was rolled out Wednesday in anticipation of snow and sleet this week.
Both teams have heated benches that include blowers for helmets. The Vikings claimed the east sideline for their home bench because that part the stadium retains the most sunlight The Seahawks will be in the shade throughout Sunday’s game - assuming the sun comes out at all.
“It’s a lot better than college,” said Vikings receiver Adam Thielen, who played at Minnesota State-Mankato. “We didn’t have heated benches and all the heaters on the sideline.”
The coldest game in NFL history was minus-13 for the NFL Championship on Dec. 31, 1967, between Green Bay and Dallas at Lambeau Field, famously dubbed “The Ice Bowl.”
According to NFL.com, the coldest game in Vikings history was minus-2 for a Dec. 3, 1972, regular-season clash between Minnesota and Chicago at Met Stadium.
“You just deal with it,” said Minnesota defensive end Everson Griffen. “There’s no way to get out of it.”

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