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Penalty recap: Buffalo Bills at Green Bay Packers

Were the Bills playing clean, or did the refs turn a blind eye to the field on Sunday?

The Buffalo Bills got beat up in Wisconsin but managed to keep the penalties down—way down. The Green Bay Packers also landed a little below league average. Arguably a few more penalties should have been called. A holding call on Tre’Davious White stands out. Or the one on Jerry Hughes right after White’s hold. Or the no-call on hitting a defenseless Kelvin Benjamin in the head. But hey, who’s counting...right? There’s also the clock thing right before the end of the first half and the Josh Allen “fumble” being upheld and the...

The refs didn’t have a good game either, folks. With that said, let’s analyze the penalties that actually got called.

Traditional and Advanced Metrics

Penalty count

The league averages fell this week. They’ve been slowly but steadily dropping since Week 1. Both teams fall comfortably under count and true count. The Bills had a tremendous week by these measures. There was only one declined penalty and zero offset, which is highly unusual.

Penalty yards

The Bills are about where you’d expect them to be based on their low count. If anything, their yardage might be a tad lower than anticipated. The Packers swing a little in the other direction, with maybe a little higher yardage than expected based on their count.

For true yards, the Bills negated 13 yards of offense via penalty in addition to their assessed yardage. Green Bay’s four yards negated weren’t a major shift away from the assessed.

Penalty Harm

Green Bay Packers

The offside occurred on a Corey Bojorquez punt. McDermott must have been satisfied with Green Bay back at their own 16 and the penalty was declined. Jimmy Graham’s false start was as expected. Bryan Bulaga’s holding call negated four yards to go with the ten assessed.

After an interesting exchange between the two teams, Blake Martinez had the audacity to remove his helmet. It gave the Bills two free downs in addition to the 15 yards for a total of 3.5 Harm.

Josh Jackson had a rough day, being called for a face mask and an unnecessary roughness call. Both came on first down so the harm was nothing more than the assessed yardage. Each earned 15 yards or 1.5 Harm. Let’s take a quick look at what earned that roughness call.

Personally, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen way more often. With the speed of the game it’s easy enough for a hand to slide to a different spot. This call bears a lot of similarities to most face-mask penalties in that it just kinda happens.

Buffalo Bills

With only three, we might as well recap them all. The false start from Khari Lee was nothing more than the yardage. His offensive holding call negated a 13-yard run from LeSean McCoy on first down that bumped this flag to 2.3 Harm. Taron Johnson’s holding call came on second down. Five yards + one down = 1.5 Harm.

Usually I try to stick to the called flags and the impact they had on the game, but it’s hard to ignore the volume of obvious non and bad calls. Let’s rewind a bit and look at what led up to Blake Martinez removing his helmet. How did they only catch one thing?