Buffalo Bills fans were threatened by the game officials on Saturday night for enjoying themselves just a bit too much in the cozy winter wonderland confines of Orchard Park, NY. With a heavy lake effect snowfall in Western New York overnight, the seats at Highmark Stadium were full of snow when spectators entered the arena. Bills fans took advantage, throwing snowballs onto the field during the first half until the hammer was dropped.
With just over eight minutes left in the second quarter, referee Bill Vinovich announced to the crowd that if the snowballs continued, the home team would be assessed a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“Please stop throwing snowballs. We’ve just been informed that if a snowball hits someone, it’ll be a 15 yard penalty against Buffalo,” said the ref.
The NFL network broadcast reported that the Miami Dolphins sideline was being pelted from behind, noting it could be a “safety issue” with ice flying through the air.
It made for great TV when the Bills were scoring touchdowns in the early going. When tight end Quinton Morris caught his first TD of the season, the snowballs rained down. Right tackle Spencer Brown even picked one up and sent it back to the stands.
Earlier in the game, the team’s stadium operations unit tried to get Bills fans to stop with more subtle tactics. They put a notice up on the scoreboard, but it didn’t work.
Multiple players addressed it in their postgame press conferences, as well.
Bills safety Jordan Poyer mentioned in his press conference that he’d never seen anything like what happened in the first half, with fans throwing snow. He said he was hit by a snowball. After the officials warned the fans about the snowballs, he wondered how you could differentiate between Dolphins fans and Bills fans throwing the next chunk of snow.
Thankfully for the Bills and the Dolphins, it wasn’t a problem going forward and the refs didn’t have to intervene.