ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Snow was expected to be a factor in the Buffalo Bills' game against the Miami Dolphins on Saturday night, but it had an impact in a more unexpected way during the first half.
A warning had to be issued from the referees for fans to stop throwing snowballs onto the field.
With a lake effect snow warning in place for the weekend, at least seven inches of snow fell in Orchard Park prior to Saturday's 32-29 Bills win. Hours before the contest, crews went to work clearing the field at Highmark Stadium, leaving it free of almost any evidence that it had snowed.
But piles of snow were left in the stands for fans to clear themselves. Many made snowballs and threw them at other fans and also onto the field. Snow cascaded down from the upper deck to fans in the lower bowl, and snowball after snowball found its way into the end zone.
"Please stop throwing snowballs," referee Bill Vinovich announced to the crowd coming out of a commercial break in the second quarter. "We've just been informed that if a snowball hits someone, it'll be a 15-yard penalty against Buffalo."
The stadium had flashed messages onto the giant video screen prior to Vinovich's announcement asking fans to not throw any objects, including snow. Snowballs continued to be thrown after the decision to implement penalties was announced.
Snow also was used in celebration, with snowballs thrown toward the Bills' offense after the first touchdown of the game -- a 14-yard pass from quarterback Josh Allen to tight end Quintin Morris. Fans also threw snow up into the air.
Highmark Stadium tweeted, "For player and public safety, please stop throwing snowballs. You will be ejected and subject to arrest."
There was a 100% chance of precipitation for the remainder of the game, as announced in the press box.