Bills may have gone too far with pre-play stadium sounds
In the aftermath of the odyssey known as #DeflateGate and the short-lived phenomenon known as #HeadsetGate, two things were clear: (1) anyone who loses in Gillette Stadium can try to blame it not on their own failure to perform but on cheating; and (2) anyone who hosts the Patriots can take liberties with the rules and there’s nothing the Patriots can say about it.
The first example came in the first game after the Steelers suggested that something fishy happened in the regular-season opener at Gillette Stadium. (The NFL quickly concluded that nothing fishy happened.) The Bills hosted the Patriots at Ralph Wilson Stadium, and on multiple occasions the very loud third-down train horn blared when it arguably shouldn’t have.
In the memo sent last month reminding all teams of the NFL’s in-stadium noise policies, the league said this: “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.”
The Patriots used the no-huddle offense on multiple occasions, and on multiple occasions when the Patriots used the no-huddle offense the Bills were blaring the train horn.
It’s unknown whether the Patriots made an official complaint to the league regarding the apparent violation of the noise rules. If they were to make any suggestion of it publicly, they’d invite plenty of eye rolling and cries of “karma!” from fans of the Bills and the other 30 teams not named the Patriots.
It may not matter if the Patriots complain. By league rule, "[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.” So if the Bills went too far when the Patriots had the ball, the NFL easily will be able to figure it out.