On This Date in Sports December 1, 1985: Snowed Under
In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com
Steve Young's second NFL start with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers turns into a nightmare in a Winter Wonderland. Heavy snow fell throughout the game at Lambeau Field, with a foot of snow covering the field at the start as a blizzard helped lift the Green Bay Packers to a 21-0 win. Young completes eight of 17 passes for 53 yards, and he was sacked five times and had one interception while coming up with a face full of snow.
It was a dark time in Tampa; the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, in their tenth season, had returned to the bumbling ways of their early years. After playing in the NFC Championship Game in 1979, the Buccaneers had two more playoff appearances in 1981 and 1982 but failed to win in the postseason. In 1983, they plummeted to 2-14. The Buccaneers posted a 6-10 record for John McKay, who retired in 1984. His replacement was Leeman Bennett, who lost his first nine games in 1985. After a win over the St. Louis Cardinals, Tampa suffered a humiliating 62-28 loss to the New York Jets. Bennett decided to change quarterbacks, calling on Steve Young, who had previously played in the USFL. Young led Tampa to a 19-16 win in overtime over the Detroit Lions in his first start, as Tampa sat at 2-10 as December began.
The Green Bay Packers were also in an era of disappointing football. They had made just two postseason appearances since winning Super Bowl II. Under coach Forrest Gregg, they were out of the playoff chase at 5-7. Due to the blizzard, the Packers had a record 36,000 no-shows, as fewer than 20,000 fans were in attendance in the snow-filled seats. Heavy winds with gusts of 40 mph made conditions unbearable, as the wind chill made it feel like it was zero degrees.
Neither team was able to score in the first quarter. The Buccaneers made a foolish mistake in the second quarter, as they were called for running into the punter. This gave Green Bay a first down, and they would score a touchdown on a one-yard sneak by Lynn Dickey. It would be the only scoring of the first half, as the Buccaneers were held to 43 yards with one first down, looking like a team from Florida that was uncomfortable with the wintery conditions.
The Packers got a boost at the start of the third quarter, as Gerry Ellis returned the opening kickoff 40 yards. The Packers would need just four plays to find the end zone, as Ellis has a 35-yard touchdown run to make the score 14-0. The Packers dominated the game, as they had no issues moving the ball in the snow. However, four turnovers kept Tampa in the game. The Buccaneers had a chance to score, by Donald Igwebuike missed a 33-yard field goal attempt. In the fourth quarter, the Packers capped the scoring with a three-yard run by Jessie Clark, winning 21-0.
Steve Young was a star at BYU and spent one season with the Los Angeles Express of the USFL. When the team announced it would fold, Young signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who had his rights in the NFL. The Buccaneers had hoped Steve Young would be the quarterback of the future. However, he struggled badly, as the Buccaneers finished 2-14 in 1985 and 1986. This marked three times in four years that the Buccaneers went 2-14, one of the worst stretches in NFL history. The Buccaneers would trade Steve Young to the San Francisco 49ers before the 1987 season. In San Francisco, Young backed up Joe Montana for four years before becoming the starter. He would win an MVP and lead the Niners to victory in Super Bowl XXIX. Steve Young would go on to become a Hall of Famer.