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New rule added to address snow removal in wake of Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts Snowvertime game

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The Bills may have not had to go into overtime if this rule was able to be enforced.

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Buffalo Bills Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

In Week 14 of the 2017 NFL season, the Buffalo Bills played a game in a blizzard against the Indianapolis Colts. The game was low-scoring (as expected) and it came down to the wire in overtime. With the Colts scoring late in the fourth quarter, they only needed to make the extra point to tie the game. In conditions like that, there are no guarantees.

Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri and other players from the sideline rushed onto the field to kick away snow to create a workable surface for the extra point that would keep them in the game. At the time, creating a surface for the kicker wasn't allowed but no penalty yards could be enforced because it was a policy, not an official rule. Sideline personnel could be told to leave the field, but no penalty could be accessed.

Recently that rule has been added. On page 54 of the, “Official Playing Rules of the National Football League”, rule number 13 says:

“It is impermissible for the grounds crew or other team personnel to clear away snow for a Try kick, field goal, punt, or kickoff.”

If this were the case for the 2017-2018 season, the Colts would have been penalized 15-yards and the extra point to tie the game would have been 48-yards, a little more difficult in the conditions they were in.

This isn’t the first time it’s been an issue in an NFL game. In 1982, the New England Patriots beat the Miami Dolphins when a groundskeeper used a snow plow brush to clear a spot for the kicker, who put through the only points in a 3-0 Patriots victory.