Plug pulled on Ralph

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- The air went out of the balloons outside of Ralph Wilson Stadium yesterday, but nothing could deflate the Buffalo Bills and a sellout crowd of 71,602 inside.

Electricity was knocked out for a good 45 minutes at the Ralph after three helium balloons got tangled in power lines across the road.

The power outage forced NBC, which had its top crew of Greg Gumbel and Dan Dierdorf, off the air and also cut off the scoreboard and communications between coaches and players.

But the show, and the Bills' remarkable start to this NFL season, went on.

"At first it felt like a scrimmage without having the music and lights," Bills safety Donte Whitner said.

"But you still have your fans."

"Honestly, it felt like high school," Chargers linebacker Marques Harris said. "There was no scoreboard, we didn't know how much time was left in the game."

The power returned with 11 minutes left in the second quarter and the Chargers leading 7-3, but was knocked out again later on.

While it was out, there were some wild scenes in the crowded hallways and washrooms of the Ralph, but other than a delay-of-game penalty by each team, the troubles had little effect on the outcome.

"The play clock was my biggest problem and I did get frustrated with it," Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers said.

"I thought we handled it pretty well, or as well as we could."

The outage led to all kinds of wisecracks, including some from the thousands of Canadian fans in attendance that the lights won't got out when the Bills play the Dolphins in Toronto on Dec. 7.

"Some guy with a beer said: 'Why don't you pay your electricity bills,' " Bills owner Ralph Wilson said, with a laugh. "I said: 'I knew it would be my fault.' "


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