MINNEAPOLIS –They say Minnesotans are tough. That may be an understatement after 52,090 fans showed up at TCF Bank Stadium Sunday to watch the Vikings-Seahawks Wild Card showdown.
At minus-6 degrees Fahrenheit (wind chill of minus-25), the game came in as the coldest in Vikings history and third-coldest by wind chill in NFL history. It tied for third-coldest in air temperature.
View images of fans tailgating before Sunday's Vikings-Seahawks game.
"I thought the fans were outstanding today," said Vikings Head Coach Mike Zimmer following the 10-9 loss. "They sat in the coldest game in Vikings history, they were loud, they were educated, and I thought they did a great job."
A stadium nearly full of Vikings fans, with a few Seattle supporters sprinkled throughout, not only endured the cold but embraced it. Crowd noise was robust, and a sea of twirling white playoff towels in the stands further enhanced the atmosphere.
"The crowd was awesome," said Vikings running back Adrian Peterson. "Seeing those white towels, you know, twisting around, the crowd noise – it was definitely energized."
It's not uncommon at home games to hear the crowd cheering for Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, and this contest was no different. Several times throughout the afternoon, chants of "Teddy! Teddy!" reverberated through the icy air.
From Vikings jerseys over full snowsuits, to purple ski masks and goggles, to fur capes and Norseman helmets, fans found ways to show their team spirit atop layers and layers of clothing. And, of course, some wore no layers at all. One fan braved the sub-zero temperatures shirtless.
Vikings fan Brent LaBathe said he initially worried the stadium would only be half full after hearing the forecast, but he was pleasantly surprised at the level of dedication by the Minnesota fan base.
"The fans were into the game from the first snap, especially after seeing [former Vikings Head Coach] Bud Grant in a short-sleeved shirt at midfield for the coin toss," LaBathe said. "The flyby of the jets prior to kickoff was tremendous, and you could tell the players had high energy – which fed the crowd."
Ultimately, the players and fans fed off each other, and the result was an environment that spoke volumes to the team.
"Negative-6 degrees at kickoff and still filled the stadium. It speaks volumes about our fans," said Vikings defensive end Brian Robison. "We've got the best fans in the country. I don't care what anybody says. I don't think there are a lot of teams out there that in negative-6 degrees are going to be out there screaming and yelling to give us energy. That's what they did today."
Vikings fan Luke Widbin attended the game with his brother-in-law, Peter Freeburg, and the two braved the extra wind in the upper level.
"When it's this cold, you just have to tell yourself, 'It's fun to be a part of history,' " he said.
Widbin said after watching 88-year-old Grant walk across the field in a polo, no one mentioned the cold again.
"We just talked about how it wasn't that bad," Widbin explained. "I wore about a fifth of my wardrobe to the game. My mom wasn't too pleased I was even going. She texted me a few times to remember extra blankets – I'm 26 years old. I guess some things never change."
Despite the disappointing outcome and ultimate one-point loss for Minnesota, it's safe to say Vikings fans will continue to support and be proud of their team … staying positive even when the temperatures are negative.