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Patriots vs. Bills: Bills May Have Broken the Rules

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Did the Buffalo Bills cheat against the Patriots? Is the integrity of the league tarnished once again?

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

In their efforts to become the loudest stadium of all time, the folks manning the PA system over in Buffalo may have crossed the line.

This past August, the NFL sent a memo to all 32 teams reminding what was and was not allowable regarding artificial noise pumped on through a stadium's loudspeakers. After the Atlanta Falcons were caught generating artificial crowd noise when the opposing team was on offense in order to gain a competitive advantage (you may remember reading about it nonstop for months on end) and fined $350,000 and a fifth round draft pick, the league made a special point to let all teams know that there were guidelines in place regarding what you can and cannot do to visiting offenses in terms of stadium noise.

According to the memo:

"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."

On Sunday, however, there were multiple occasions when Buffalo's 3rd down horn, which comes in the form of a loud, piercing train whistle, was playing when it should not have been playing. Several of those occasions came when the Patriots were utilizing their no-huddle offense and were already in the process of lining up for the next play. According to the memo, Buffalo's usage of that horn violates the language of the memo and is thus breaking the rules, ruining the integrity of the game, and disgracing an entire city and fanbase with shameful, disgusting tactics.

Does any of this matter in the slightest? Nope. Does anyone care in any capacity that the Bills were blaring a train horn while the Patriots were in no-huddle? Absolutely not. In all honesty it was probably just a minor miscommunication with the stadium sound guys who thought they had more time to blow the whistle and were caught off-guard when the Patriots went no-huddle and lined up quickly. Should anyone be upset or angry over any of this? No. Is it a complete non-story? For sure. But would this be a national scandal if the Patriots were the ones doing it? You can take it to the bank. Just another example of everyone screaming rules and integrity while consistently moving the goalposts for anything and everything New England does. Asking for the NFL to exercise consistency isn't an unreasonable demand, and things like this - and the fact that we now all seem compelled to point out these little inconsistencies each and every week - once again prove just how badly our beloved commissioner has botched things.