Fog Bowl (American football)
An image taken during the game.
|Date||December 31, 1988|
|Stadium||Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois|
|TV in the United States|
|Announcers||Verne Lundquist and Terry Bradshaw|
In American football, the Fog Bowl was the December 31, 1988 National Football League (NFL) playoff game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Chicago Bears. A dense fog rolled over Chicago's Soldier Field during the 2nd quarter, cutting visibility to about 15–20 yards for the rest of the game. Philadelphia moved the ball effectively all day and Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham had 407 passing yards despite the low visibility; but they could not get the ball into the end zone. Many players complained that they could not see the sidelines or first-down markers. The Bears ended up winning 20–12. The game eventually was named #3 on NFL Top 10's Weather Games.
The game was also notable in that it involved head coaches who had been previously worked on the same staff of a Super Bowl winning team. Eagles coach Buddy Ryan had been the defensive coordinator for Mike Ditka on the Bears when the team won Super Bowl XX. An NFL Network special on the game highlighted how unusual the conditions were: the fog was caused by a very rare late-December mix of cold and hot air in the atmosphere, and the fog itself covered a very small part of Chicago (less than 15 city blocks) for a very short amount of time (less than three hours). If the game had been played in the late afternoon or at night, there would have been no fog during the game at all.
Chicago scored first with quarterback Mike Tomczak's 64-yard touchdown pass to Dennis McKinnon. The Eagles responded by driving to the Chicago 26-yard line, but kicker Luis Zendejas missed a 43-yard field goal. Philadelphia quickly got the ball back after linebacker Seth Joyner intercepted a pass from Tomczak, and this time they managed to score with Zendejas' 42-yard field goal, but only after committing two costly mistakes: twice on the drive Philadelphia had touchdowns nullified by penalties. The Bears then drove to the Eagles 33-yard line on their ensuing drive, but it stalled and kicker Kevin Butler missed a 51-yard field goal attempt, giving the ball back to Philadelphia with great field position. Randall Cunningham then led the Eagles inside Chicago's 5-yard line but on 4th and inches Cunningham was stuffed for no gain and the Eagles turned the ball over. However, on Chicago's ensuing possession, Cap Boso fumbled the ball, and Philadelphia's Wes Hopkins recovered, giving the Eagles excellent field position at Chicago's 15-yard line. But the Eagles' drive stalled and Jackson dropped a perfectly thrown pass by Cunningham in the end zone and thus Philadelphia had to settle for a Luis Zendejas 29-yard field goal to cut the team's deficit to 7–6.
The Bears drove 44 yards on their ensuing possession and scored with Neal Anderson's 4-yard touchdown run to give them a 14–6 lead. Both teams scored another field goal before halftime, and they went into their locker rooms with Chicago leading 17–9.
In the third quarter, Tomczak left the game with a shoulder injury. Each team could only score a short field goal in the second half. The fog was so thick that both teams were forced to use their running game because receivers could not see the long passes thrown to them. TV and radio announcers, and the fans in the stadium had trouble seeing what was happening on the field. CBS color commentator Terry Bradshaw, who was working the game, later said he was more frustrated than at any time when he was a player. Referee Jim Tunney ended up announcing the down and distance for each play on his wireless microphone. The NFL was monitoring the conditions but never considered postponing or delaying the game, because the fog posed no danger to fans or players, unlike situations that involved lightning or high winds (conditions were analogous to heavy rain or snow accumulations in that regard).
Still, the Eagles gave themselves a chance to tie the game. Late in the fourth quarter, Cunningham drove them into the Chicago red zone, but on a play from the Bears' 16-yard line, he threw his third interception of the day to cornerback Maurice Douglass. Most of the Eagles' offensive players were unaware of what had happened until they actually saw Douglass barreling toward them out of the fog, carrying the ball.
Cunningham finished the game with 407 passing yards, but was unable to lead his team to a single touchdown and was intercepted 3 times. Fullback Keith Byars rushed for 34 yards and caught 9 passes for 103 yards. Tight end Keith Jackson caught 7 passes for 142 yards. Other than his 64-yard touchdown pass, Tomczak was dominated the rest of the game by the Eagles defense, completing only 10 of 20 passes for 174 yard with 1 touchdown and 3 interceptions. McKinnon finished the game with 4 receptions for 108 yards and a touchdown.
*Completions/Attempts aCarries bLongest play cReceptions dTackles eForced Fumbles fLongest field goal
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