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Penalty recap: Buffalo Bills avoid costly penalties, still lose to New York Jets

The penalty department ended up looking pretty good despite a rough first half

The New York Jets came to town and beat the Buffalo Bills, officially closing the door on the team’s playoff hopes and dreams for the 2018 season. Such matters are trivial next to the all-important penalty data of course. In that regard, the Bills had an excellent day.

Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Count

After a couple weeks of high penalty counts, it’s almost weird seeing teams around league average. For assessed counts, both the Bills and Jets fall in at seven, which is right at the league rate. For thrown flags, the Bills had no declined/offset, which puts them below league average. The Jets’ two declined puts them a little above.

Penalty Yards

For yards, we have very different stories. The Bills were flagged for ten yards less than league average, which should be the result of having more minor, procedural penalties. Despite the same count, the Jets were more than 30 yards over average. That’s usually a sign of a high rate of personal fouls and/or some bad defensive pass interference.

When it comes to yards negated or impacted by penalty, neither team was egregious. The Bills added eleven yards to their total while the Jets added 13.

Penalty Harm

New York Jets

Good news! I was able to increase the font size on the player names to where it was earlier in the season. Four of the nine penalties called against the Jets were boo-boos. Interestingly, the unnecessary-roughness call on Jordan Jenkins falls into this category as the Bills were at the Jets’ twelve-yard line when it occurred. As hinted at above, a couple more personal fouls and a 33-yard defensive pass-interference call accounted for most of the penalty yards.

An absurdly blatant hit on Stephen Hauschka to end the half should have been a flag but wasn’t. I mention that no-call as it wasn’t just Hauschka the Jets’ weren’t kind to—that foul on Jenkins was a bad hit on Josh Allen. This isn’t the kind of shot you want to see anyone take.

Buster Skrine was a little nicer and just hit Josh Allen’s head with his hand and forearm. This isn’t an especially violent strike, but it’s certainly the right call.

Thankfully, Leonard Williams was kind enough to just shove Allen. The collision would likely have been overlooked, but the arm extension at the end warrants the flag.

Despite a few bad penalties, the Jets weren’t too terrible for harm. At 14.8 Harm, it’s a bad day but not catastrophic.

Buffalo Bills

It’s mostly boo-boos for the Bills. Tre’Davious White’s holding call was half-the-distance-to-the-goal on first down. Robert Foster was called for pass interference twice. The first wiped out a four-yard gain, and the second wiped out a two-yard gain (1.4 and 1.2 Harm respectively).

Dion Dawkins’s chop block wiped out a five-yard gain and led to Jordan Jenkins threatening to kill him if he did it again. Jenkins called Dawkins “classless” for the move and later in the same drive launched helmet-first into Josh Allen’s face (seen above).

Buffalo’s formation and procedural woes continued as Jordan Poyer was called for an illegal formation penalty during a free kick. Let’s peek in.

It’s illegal formation rather than illegal motion—there is no “legal motion” to be had. By stepping off where he was set, Poyer is no longer in the right formation. While the five yards isn’t a big deal, it’s yet another sloppy penalty in a long line of them for the Bills this year.

The silver lining is that the Bills had only 6.0 Harm for the entire game. They haven’t been under a rating of ten since the last time they played the Jets (6.8 Harm). The Bills have been boom-or-bust so far with penalties. In 13 games they’ve played, they’ve been under ten harm seven times. Contrasting that, they’ve been over 20 in five contests.