ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Highmark Stadium lost power during the second half of Sunday’s Bills-Texans game, causing some technical difficulties on the CBS broadcast. The game appeared to proceed without incident.
TV screens suddenly went blue around 3 p.m. as the Texans were punting with about 5:20 left in the third quarter. CBS cut to commercial and was able to regain its game feed shortly after, but could not immediately get broadcasters Beth Mowins and Tiki Barber back on the air.
The CBS studio crew, led by James Brown, offered commentary over the video feed. CBS appeared to be adding in fake crowd noise, similar to what networks did during games with empty stadiums during the pandemic.
News 4’s Chris Horvatits reported that New York State Electric and Gas Corporation told Erie County officials that the power outage was a result of a nearby auto accident earlier Sunday, not a problem at the stadium during rainy conditions.
UPDATE: NYSEG said Monday that after restoring power due to the accident Sunday morning, crews later noticed additional wire damage. “Crews were finalizing the repairs to this section of wire when a momentary 11-second power disruption occurred, which briefly interrupted power at Highmark Stadium,” NYSEG said in a statement.
While power was restored to the stadium quickly, the broadcast systems to longer to get back on line. Mowins and Barber weren’t able to get back on the air until there were about 8 minutes left in the game, missing 12 and a half minutes of game action.
It’s unclear whether a challenge by Bills coach Sean McDermott was affected by a lack of camera angles.
Bills quarterback Josh Allen reached for the pylon with 14:19 left in the fourth quarter but was ruled short of the goalline. The Bills challenged, but the call was upheld. Referees appeared to have some additional views on their Microsoft tablets, which the broadcast cameras were able to zoom in on.
CBS also lost access to its score bug without power but was able to keep the Bills-Texans game on the ticker, which gave viewers the score and the clock. They brought a regular-looking bug back on the screen early in the fourth quarter.
The Bills won 40-0, marking their second shutout of the season and the second-largest victory in franchise history.