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Penalty recap: Terrible, no good, very bad Jaguars at Bills

Is thirty combined flags thrown bad?

Were you at the game? Then maybe you heard me yelling at the refs to stop tossing flags because “I have to recap this.” The Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars ran the ball almost two-thirds of the time, a trend that should have resulted in a very early end time for the game. It ran over the allotted time by 22 minutes.

Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Counts

I don’t think a whole lot of explanation is needed here. The two teams fell just shy of doubling the league rate. That’s really bad. Maybe you want to blame Walt Coleman and his flag-happy tendencies. Walt Coleman’s crew averages a full penalty BELOW the league average.

Penalty Yards

Considering the ludicrously high counts, the yardage isn’t too terrible. The Bills come out slightly ahead with assessed yardage, but fall behind when factoring in yards negated by penalty. And let’s be honest, 55 yards negated by penalty is a lot of yards.

Penalty Harm

Buffalo Bills

How bad was this game? I had to change the font size for both teams because the player names started overlapping. The Bills managed to have nine boo-boo penalties (1.0 Harm or under). The only interesting note is that Wyatt Teller’s ineligible-receiver flag wiped out a four-yard gain.

John Miller’s holding call wiped out a seven-yard pass that was also a first down (from third). 10 yards + 7 yards + 2 downs = 3.7 Harm. Not to be outdone, Russel Bodine’s illegal use of hands wiped out a 16-yard gain on the next play. That also would have been a first down. The Bills understandably had a tough time converting on 3rd-and-25.

The Bills extended a Jacksonville drive with a flag for too many men on the field during a punt. One of the more egregious times for a penalty, the three free downs is basically a turnover by penalty.

Taron Johnson was called for holding and extended another drive for the Jaguars. In addition to the standard five yards, he negated a nine-yard sack and it was on third down for 3.4 Harm. The Bills prevented a score (this was the fight and missed field goal drive) but the drive should have ended on this play.

It’s somewhat subtle and arguably no one would have batted an eyelash had this not been called. But it’s certainly not a bad call. Coleman and his crew called a long-winded but mostly straight game.

When the dust cleared, the Bills earned 23.5 Harm. This falls just shy of the 23.8 against Chicago but marks the fourth time this year they’ve cleared 20.

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars had six boo-boos but only had three penalties earn more than 2.0 harm (to the Bills’ five). However, two massive penalties shaped the course of the game (and we’ll chat about a third for fun).

Jalen Ramsey’s bad day began with a face mask call. Josh Allen, who Ramsey insists is trash, completed a 32-yard pass to Kelvin Benjamin with Ramsey in coverage. The penalty added 15 yards on top of that. Insult, injury, and salt in the wound for Ramsey.

Ramsey would go on to get his revenge though, intercepting a pass intended for Robert Foster. Except Ramsey was in position partly thanks to illegal contact. Negating a turnover is calculated as 4.0 harm as it amounts to negating four downs for your own team. To make matters worse, it had been third down for the Bills. While there wasn’t enough time on the clock to use all of the free downs, the formula puts it at 6.5 Harm. Let’s take a look.

Ramsey definitely earned this flag. Lowering the shoulder he may have gotten away with, but the extended arm is too much not to notice. It’s probable this ball is Ramsey’s regardless. A nearly-completed Hail Mary was set up by this very unnecessary penalty.

The Jaguars couldn’t get out of their own way later in the game either. After the fight and ejections, the Jaguars were sitting pretty with first-and-goal at the one-yard line. The Bills held up on first down, tackling Carlos Hyde for a loss of one. A false start then set the Jaguars back another five. Seemingly scoring a touchdown to take the lead, Keelan Cole was called for holding. In addition to the ten yards assessed and seven yards wiped out, we hold Cole accountable for the missing touchdown and extra point. Each point earns 1.0 harm. In total, that gives him a game-worst (10 yards + 7 yards + 6 points + 1 extra point) 8.7 Harm rating. This penalty was followed by a minimal gain and a sack. All told, it pushed the Jaguars back far enough to miss a field goal.

With the turnover-on-downs, the Bills completed two passes that were good for 24 yards on their own merits. The reeling Jags were hit with a face mask and roughness call to add 30 extra yards. A series of misadventures by the Jaguars following the brawl turned a surefire score for them into a touchdown drive for the Bills. This is one game where penalties truly did impact the outcome. All told, the Jaguars slightly edge out the Bills with 23.8 Harm.