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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cold Weather Veterans

Can last week’s experience in Lambeau Field prepare the Bucs for the cold in Veterans Stadium


Head Coach Tony Dungy (left) could get a few tips about handling the Philadelphia scene from former Eagles player Herman Edwards

We're in Philadelphia, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers Head Coach is asked once again about the cold weather. Can his team handle sub-40 degree temperatures, comes the familiar query.

For Dungy, the answer is right outside his window.

"You go out anywhere around here and you'll see kids playing outside, playing in the park, in the snow, sledding, and they'll be having fun. They'll be feeling fine because they aren't trying to stay warm. They're having a good time.

"Then you'll see people waiting for the bus, and they're shivering and they're miserable, because they don't really want to be out there. They're waiting for the bus to come and they're freezing. The people that are out there doing something that they want to do, being productive, are fine."

And the lesson, as it relates to his Buccaneers on the football field?

"You have to want to win the game more than you want to stay warm," said Dungy. "If you do, you'll be fine."

Dungy says he learned this lesson while playing at the University of Minnesota, playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, coaching at Kansas City, et cetera. Even when he was the defensive coordinator for the Vikings, who play indoors, the lesson showed up in his family life.

"It's the same thing with my kids," said Dungy. "When we lived in Minnesota, on the first snow the last thing I want to do is be outside. But they're telling me, 'Dad, c'mon, let's go, let's go outside.' They're making snowballs. I'm out there five minutes and I'm ready to go inside, but they never want to come in. It's the same temperature for all of us, but I don't want to be out there. I'm not trying to accomplish anything."

The Bucs have tried to accomplish a victory in below 40-degree weather 19 times in their history, including the postseason and haven't succeeded yet. Dungy isn't exactly discouraged by this history.

"We've played about six cold games since (he and his coaching staff) have been here," said Dungy. We won in New York a couple of years ago, we won in Cincinnati. The games we've lost have been the same, 13-10, 17-14, we've had the ball with a chance to win."

The latest entry on that list was just seven days ago in Green Bay, a 17-14 overtime loss for the Buccaneers. But Tampa Bay had a 14-14 tie and a field goal try to win it in the final seconds of regulation. Stunningly, the Bucs' nearly-automatic kicker, Martin Gramatica, missed from 40 yards out. Dungy admits he was shocked to see the ball miss it's target.

"I really couldn't believe it," said Dungy. "We had – and still have – so much confidence in him, we just don't feel like he's going to miss. I was pretty sure we wouldn't have to talk about the cold, we wouldn't have to talk about Lambeau Field anymore. But it didn't work out that way."

Still, despite the disappointing results that sent Tampa Bay to Philadelphia instead of home for a bye week, the game in Green Bay was good practice for Sunday's playoff game.

"I think it's the best preparation that we could have had, really," said Dungy. "We played on a bad field in cold weather, hostile environment, a lot of noise. Really it was very similar, so it was good preparation."

Not that Dungy necessarily believes the Bucs' needed that warm up. All they need to do to survive and excel in the cold is remember the lesson above.

"You have a job to do, and you've got to do it," said Dungy. "Concentrate on the job, because the job is more important than the conditions."

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