Sunday, December 28, 2008
No delay for Patriots-Bills despite wind
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Winds gusting up to 75 mph tore a strip off the Buffalo Bills' practice fieldhouse and tilted both goal posts inside Ralph Wilson Stadium before Buffalo's game against the New England Patriots on Sunday.
Though the blustery conditions didn't delay the start of the game, work crews used ropes and a forklift to re-secure and re-center the goal posts, which shook heavily in the wind.
The posts at the west end of the field then had to be adjusted late in the second quarter, with the Patriots lining up for a 26-yard attempt into the wind. The posts leaned to the right, and the game was delayed briefly to allow crews to straighten the uprights.
Didn't matter. Stephen Gostkowski's attempt started straight down the middle and then was immediately pushed wide to the right.
Bills kicker Rian Lindell didn't have any more luck at the other end of the field with the wind at his back. He was wide right on a 47-yard attempt. Lindell's kick started left and then veered wide right.
The winds caused both teams to all but avoid the pass. Neither team attempted a pass into the wind through the first 25 minutes. Matt Cassel went 2-of-3 for 31 yards through the Patriots' first three possessions.
The Bills opened with 14 straight runs into the wind, with Trent Edwards completing his one and only attempt -- a 13-yarder to Lee Evans -- to open the second quarter with the wind at his back.
Very strong gusts occurred at about 8:30 a.m., when they tore a strip 2 feet wide and more than 50 feet long off the metal roof of the 12-story fieldhouse across the parking lot from the stadium. There was damage reported inside the facility, but no one was injured. Pregame events inside the fieldhouse were canceled.
The winds also tore off part of a goal post on the Bills' outdoor practice field next to the fieldhouse.
The defending AFC champion Patriots (10-5) need to beat Buffalo (7-8) in the season finale, and require help -- with either a Miami or Baltimore loss -- to secure their sixth straight playoff berth.
The National Weather Service issued a wind advisory for the Buffalo region, with the strongest winds projected to occur from late morning through late afternoon.