American Football Database
The Snowplow Game
File:Snow plow game.jpg
The snowplow being used to clear a spot for a field goal attempt.
1 2 3 4 Total
Miami Dolphins 0 0 0 0 0
New England Patriots 0 0 0 3 0
Date 1982-12-12
Stadium Schaefer Stadium
Location Foxborough, Massachusetts
Network NBC
Announcers Jay Randolph and Bob Griese

In National Football League lore, the Snowplow Game refers to a regular-season game played between the Miami Dolphins and New England Patriots on December 12, 1982.


The night before this game, heavy rains had soaked the Astroturf surface at New England's Schaefer Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. This quickly froze over. To make matters worse, a heavy snowstorm had begun shortly after the game began. As a result, an emergency ground rule had been established for this game: the officials could call time-out, and allow the ground crew to use a snowplow to clear the yard markers. Despite this rule, the ground crew could not plow often enough to keep the field clear. The two teams remained scoreless late into the fourth quarter. With 4:45 left to go in the game and on-field conditions worsening, Patriots coach Ron Meyer ordered snowplow operator Mark Henderson to clear a spot on the field specifically for placekicker John Smith. At first, no one had thought it suspicious, assuming that the plow would go straight across, and allow for a more accurate measurement (which turned out to be 33 yards). Instead, the plow veered left, directly in front of the goal post, giving Smith a clean spot from which to kick. Matt Cavanaugh held for the kick. Miami coach Don Shula protested furiously but the field goal was good and the Patriots won the game by the final score of 3–0. The game ball was awarded to all-pro linebacker Steve Nelson, who subsequently donated it to his alma mater, North Dakota State University. Henderson also received a game ball from a grateful Meyer after the game.

Aftermath and legacy

Henderson, a convicted burglar on a work release program from MCI-Norfolk at the time of the game, was released from prison a few years later and currently works in the construction business. When interviewed years later about the controversy surrounding the game, Henderson jokingly remarked, "What are they gonna do, throw me in jail?"

The following year, the NFL banned the use of snowplows on the field during a game. In a 2007 interview for an NFL Network segment about the game, Shula recalled protesting the "unfair" act, to which Commissioner Pete Rozelle responded that, while he agreed wholeheartedly, without a rule explicitly barring such use of the plow, there was nothing he could do. [1]

The incident is commemorated with an interactive exhibit at the Hall at Patriot Place within the Patriots' current home, Gillette Stadium. The plow itself, a John Deere Model 314 tractor with sweeper attached, hangs from the ceiling at the exhibit.


External links

This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Snowplow Game.
The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with American Football Database, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.