Did Bills violate rules with pre-play stadium noise vs. Pats?

The Bills may have run afoul of NFL policies by pumping in noise before the Patriots ran plays on offense.
Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

By Ricky Doyle

The Buffalo Bills might have gone overboard in their quest to distract the New England Patriots.

The crowd at Ralph Wilson Stadium was rocking Sunday as the Bills hosted the defending Super Bowl champions. But, as ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio pointed out after the Patriots’ 40-32 win, it’s possible the Bills actually violated NFL rules with their in-stadium sounds while New England was on offense.

Consider the following, per Florio, from a memo sent by the NFL last month regarding the league’s in-stadium noise policies:

“The home team is permitted to play audio while the visiting team is on offense and the play clock is running. The audio must cease by the time the play clock reaches 20 seconds, or when the visiting team’s offense reaches the line of scrimmage, whichever occurs first. Pursuant to this policy, the visiting team’s offense is considered being at the line of scrimmage when the center touches the ball.”

According to Florio, a very loud third-down train horn blared when perhaps it shouldn’t have.

The Patriots used a no-huddle offense several times, and the Bills reportedly blared the train horn on multiple occasions when New England used its no-huddle offense. That could be interpreted as a violation of NFL rules, though it’s unclear whether the Patriots will pursue the matter. After all, they won the game and a formal complaint likely would tick off a lot of people given the Patriots’ reputation.

According to Florio, “(a)ll clubs must submit a recording of the video board feed paired with the PA system audio by the Wednesday following a home game.”

Bills fans failed in their attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records’ mark for crowd noise Sunday. It still was a crazy atmosphere in Orchard Park, N.Y., though.

Perhaps a little too crazy?

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