Sunday's turf incident that caused the second half of the Bills-Steelers game to be delayed was the result of a user error on the Bills' end, according to the turf company's president.
But, he added, the piles of rubber that accumulated in the end zones and along the sidelines during snow removal represented only a small fraction of the field's total amount of rubber infill, making it safe to continue the game.
"While it was a bit unsightly, as a percentage of the rubber and sand infill in the system – almost 600,000 pounds, 300,000 pounds each of rubber and sand – what was brought on to the surface was a very small percentage," Jim Dobmeier, the president and founder of A-Turf, said in an email to The News.
"Very notably, the footing on the surface given the playing conditions was phenomenal. I was there and obviously watch both the game and the footing very closely every week. I saw one slip in the game and it was clearly caused by snow on the fibers."
— Nick Veronica (@NickVeronica) December 11, 2016
The second half was played without incident after the delay, and players said they didn't notice a difference in footing.
The line of turf the Bills use is known as the A-Turf Titan System. The rubber granules help keep the synthetic blades of grass upright and also help provide resilience and shock absorption, Dobmeier said.
He added that although proper equipment was used by the Bills to remove snow, there was an error in setting the height of the brushes on the tractor attachment.
"The brushes on the equipment are adjustable in height," he said. "They should have been set at a level by Bills' personnel where the brushes are just touching the fiber tips, thus removing snow but not disturbing the rubber infill. The brushes were set slightly low and thus brought rubber onto the surface, and this was compounded by the brief time the operators had to do the snow removal during half time."
The Bills, in a statement Sunday, said, "The brush on one of the tractors used for snow removal on the field was too firm which caused a build-up of the rubber pellets on the sidelines. Our field crew worked in conjunction with NFL officials to clear the sidelines to their specifications which caused a brief delay in the start of the season half."
The Bills declined a request for a pool reporter to interview a member of their field staff during or after the game, saying their statement covered the issue.
Several Bills players, including quarterback Tyrod Taylor and receiver Sammy Watkins, were asked about the playing surface in the second half, but none of them indicated they noticed an issue. The Steelers won, 27-20.
— Matthew Bové (@Matt_Bove) December 11, 2016