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Contributed photo / Alex Armstrong, a 2014 graduate of Baylor School, was among the fans who endured a wind chill near zero to take in the Green Bay Packers' playoff game against the San Francisco 49ers on Saturday night.

It's not that Alex Armstrong and his buddy Andrew Castaneda didn't like the pizza they bought at Lambeau Field on Saturday night near the start of the Green Bay Packers' 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC playoffs.

The pizza was fine.

It's just that they didn't buy it for the pizza.

"We needed the pizza box," Armstrong, a 2014 graduate of Baylor School, explained Sunday. "We needed the cardboard from the box to put our feet on to give us a buffer between the concrete and our shoes, because the concrete is so cold."

It was reportedly the fourth-coldest playoff game in Packers history, the temperature starting out at 14 degrees, then dropping four degrees by game's end, the wind chill reportedly hitting zero at that point as snow blew sideways. The adventure may have begun as a bucket list moment for Armstrong and Castaneda, but it quickly became an ice bucket night.

"I had four layers of clothing, ski pants, ski goggles, and it still wasn't enough," Armstrong said. "I had on three pairs of socks and duck boots, and my feet were still freezing. But I'm 100% glad I went. It's an amazing place."

It all started when Castaneda — who was a fraternity brother of Armstrong's at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia — received two Packers playoff tickets from his parents for Christmas. He soon asked Armstrong to join him. So the two of them flew to Wisconsin on Friday, found an Airbnb to stay at in Appleton, 30 miles southwest of Green Bay, and readied for a full Saturday of experiencing the best game day atmosphere in the entire 32-team NFL.

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AP photo by Matt Ludtke / Fans tailgate outside Lambeau Field before the Green Bay Packers hosted the San Francisco 49ers in an NFC divisional round playoff game Saturday in Green Bay, Wis.

"We spent $50 taking an Uber from Appleton to Green Bay," Armstrong said. "It cost us $250 to get back after the game because the traffic was so bad. We didn't back to Appleton until 3 in the morning. But the area around Lambeau, they call it Titletown, is amazing. They have a ski rink. There's a snow tubing hill. Bars and restaurants. The surrounding atmosphere outside the stadium is so cool."

Armstrong has seen and done cool before. A standout baseball player during his prep days at Baylor, he got to take in a Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field last year, which would kind of be the baseball equivalent of visiting Lambeau.

"Yes, both are jaw-dropping moments when you first see them," said Armstrong, who now lives and works in Atlanta. "So much history there."

Unfortunately for Castaneda — "a diehard Packers fan," Armstrong said — Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers' history of facing the 49ers in the playoffs has not been a good one. Saturday's last-second loss on a Robbie Gould field goal dropped him to 0-4 against San Fran in playoff games.

Said Armstrong as he recalled the moment a few minutes before Gould's winner when the Niners blocked a Packers punt that became a touchdown to knot the game at 10-all: "I've never seen so many frozen faces. It's like the whole stadium blacked out for a second."

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AP photo by Morry Gash / Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers heads toward the locker room at Lambeau Field after Saturday's last-second loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the divisional round of the NFC playoffs.

Yet one thing that impressed him was the behavior of the crowd throughout.

"The Packers fans were some of the nicest people I've ever been around," Armstrong said. "They were almost too nice. I was at the Buffalo Bills-Tennessee Titans game in Nashville last fall, and I must have seen 12 fights between Bills fans and Titans fans. Not in Green Bay. Everybody was really friendly, even asking if we needed hand warmers or anything. Just great people."

As for Lambeau itself, "I don't think there's a bad seat in that stadium," said Armstrong, who was in the corner of the end zone in section 133, row 50, seat 18. "There are luxury boxes around the entire stadium at the top, which I don't think I've ever seen before, but every seat is a good one."

There was also some pretty good food to be found beyond the pizza.

"Fried cheese curds," Armstrong said of the Upper Midwest favorite. "I wish we had those in the SEC. Warm, gooey, perfect on a cold, cold night."

For a couple of Southerners hoping to experience the essence of a Packers game at Lambeau, right down to the snow-dusted frozen tundra, it was pretty much perfect excepting the final score and the beers they purchased that would freeze on top before they could finish them. They even bought and wore the Pack's distinctive cheesehead hats during the game.

"I'm still not thawed out," Armstrong said as he and Castaneda headed to the airport for their flight back to Atlanta on Sunday evening. "But it was the experience of a lifetime."

Especially when you consider they found a whole new use for empty pizza boxes.

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Mark Wiedmer

Contact Mark Wiedmer at mwiedmer@timesfreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @TFPWeeds.

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