The Fog Bowl; December 31, 1988

Eagles Head Coach Buddy Ryan peering into the fog.

I don’t know why but I felt nostalgic the other day for the Fog Bowl, that NFC Divisional Playoff game played on New Years Eve 1988 in Chicago.

This was the much anticipated showdown between Bears Head Coach Mike Ditka and his former Defensive Coordinator Buddy Ryan who was now head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

The game started off under warm sunny skies but the air coming in over the cold waters of Lake Michigan quickly began filling the inside of Soldiers Field with a thick curtain of fog that made it impossible for the fans either at home or in the stands to follow the action on the field.

Even the players on the field had trouble following the action, straining to read the plays being sent in from the sidelines.  A game that saw 26 points scored in the first half saw only six scored in the second.

 I remember watching the game straining to see what the heck was happening on the field, something the announcers weren’t able to help with.  A switch to the field level cameras gave a little clearer view but not much.

In football most passing patterns are all about timing and that keen instinct gave an offensive edge to the receiver expecting the ball vs. the defender who could barely follow it.

No game had ever been called for fog and the NFL was hesitant to pull the plug on this one.  The feeling on the field was so long as the refs were able to see both endzones the game would go on but the way it looked on television, that wasn’t the case.

The Bears would triumph in this game and Buddy Ryan would never win a

playoff game during his time in Philadelphia despite always having one of the leagues best defenses.  But it is this game that for me will forever define his time in Philadelphia and go down as one of the most unique in the history of the NFL.

Buddy’s two sons are Rex Ryan the head coach of the Buffalo Bills and Rob Ryan a defensive coordinator with many teams.

The following are two reports I posted to youtube that aired that night on the CBS and ABC evening newscasts.

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