METAIRIE, La. — New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton had time to check in on the NFL's snow day before his team's Sunday night game inside the climate-controlled Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
And even before the Saints capped a historic offensive day for the league in a 31-13 triumph against the Carolina Panthers, Payton figured the stage was set for some big numbers.
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"It's like when you're a kid out on a frozen pond," Payton said Monday.
"You're in tennis shoes, and you kind of inch your way along without slipping. When you're playing defense with that type of footing, it's awfully hard."
Ninety touchdowns were scored in 14 games Sunday, the most in a single day in NFL history, thanks in part to weather and field conditions that in many ways tilted the balance toward offenses and return games.
The four games that began under snowfall — Minnesota at Baltimore, Detroit at Philadelphia, Miami at Pittsburgh and Kansas City at Washington — combined for 30 TDs.
It was a reminder that wintry weather doesn't necessarily mean low-scoring football. And the postseason road to the Super Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J., appears headed through Seattle in the NFC and Denver in the AFC.
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"Some people don't understand that," Denver Broncos coach John Fox said. "That's why you saw a lot of those long touchdowns, particularly in the kicking game, as well, as when guys can't get their footing, they miss tackles, and that creates explosive plays."
Five of the 30 touchdowns in snow games came on kick and punt returns. Only one was a defensive score — Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu's 19-yard interception return — with nine on running plays and 15 through the air.
The worst storm was in Philadelphia, where the Eagles' Nick Foles and the Detroit Lions' Matthew Stafford combined for 21 completions. But there were five TDs of 38 yards or more, including kick and punt returns by the Lions' Jeremy Ross.
Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco had issues, throwing three interceptions before guiding two crucial drives in the fourth quarter.
The other five starting quarterbacks in the four snow games combined to throw for 11 touchdowns and two interceptions.
"Now, if it's windy or there's precipitation, heavy rain, it kind of shifts the other direction," Payton said. "But seeing some of the highlights and seeing some of the games yesterday, with the snow on the field and all that, I think you saw a lot of big plays."
The NFL doesn't track statistics by weather, and box scores only note the basics — general weather (sunny, cloudy, rain, snow, etc.), temperature, humidity, wind and wind chill — as recorded at kickoff.
No two storms are created equal anyway, just like not all offenses handle the elements equally. The Cleveland Browns beat the Buffalo Bills 8-0 in a snow game in 2007. Two years later, the New England Patriots routed the Tennessee Titans 59-0 under heavy snow at Gillette Stadium.
"It just negates the pass rush," said former NFL quarterback Jim Miller, who spent the bulk of his career with Pittsburgh and Chicago.
"You get more time to sit in the pocket. If a (defensive back) falls down, it could lead to a big play where a guy misses a tackle, and, lo and behold, footing's an issue where you get some big gainers."
The key to passing in the snow, Miller said, is to keep routes on the move — slants, flys, seams — and avoid any type of route in which the receiver must make a hard cut.
The big advantage for offensive players once the footing goes: They know where they're going, and the defense doesn't, making tackling a chore as well.
"That Detroit and Philadelphia game — I don't know how you even play in something like that," Saints safety Roman Harper said. "That snow was everywhere. They couldn't even kick the ball, right?"
No, but the Eagles ran it just fine, racking up 299 yards on 46 carries in a 34-20 win. Stafford's 40% completion rate and five fumbles (one lost) didn't help the Lions, who face the stigma of being a dome team that will struggle in the elements in the playoffs.
Payton long has dismissed that as a factor, though. And if Sunday was any indication, he might like his high-octane passing game's chances if the Saints' chance inside the snow globe awaits in January.
"It's pretty simple," Payton said. "If the footing is bad — and I'm not talking about wind, because that's a different deal — it benefits the team that wants to throw the football."