Football is back! And with it comes penalty recaps. For the preseason games, we’ll be looking at things a little more casually, but never worry. Penalty Harm will return for the regular season games with all the chart-y goodness you’re accustomed to.
The Carolina Panthers came to town to kick off the 2018 NFL season against our Buffalo Bills and well, it was pretty bad in the penalty department. Carolina was assessed eight penalties for 67 yards, while Buffalo got dinged with ten for 69 yards. Don’t read too much into high counts in the preseason though. Last year’s week one was even worse (ten for 106 yards). The Bills did just fine when the games counted.
A lot of this is pretty standard affair, but a few highlights are worth mentioning. Kevon Seymour said “hello” to his former team by committing the first penalty of the night. The interference call bailed out Nathan Peterman’s worst pass of the night and led to twelve free yards. Even when Peterman was off (which was barely at all), good things happened.
Ladarius Gunter was flagged for defensive holding. It’s only five yards on the stat sheet but it gave the Bills a first down from third.
Vernon Butler didn’t cause and direct harm to the team, as the roughing the passer call was offset. Indirectly though, it negated an offensive pass interference that would have made the Bills’ first touchdown quite a bit more difficult.
Buffalo had more interesting penalties, which is good for this article but less so on the field. Rod Streater would have rather had a touchdown than an offensive pass interference call for instance. “Offsetting” looks fine on the stat sheet but the missed opportunity stings.
The declined illegal formation call was on the same play as the lowering head to initiate contact flag against the Panthers. You might ask yourself, “Why would the Panthers decline the penalty and eat the 15 yards?” Well, they didn’t. The refs correctly called a pretty rarely used rule referred to as “Five vs. 15 enforcement” in the rule book. There’s conditions to it, but the idea is that a major foul for 15 yards shouldn’t be offset by a minor foul. The term “declined” is what goes in the play-by-play but the correct term would be “disregarded.”
A few penalties had a deeper story to tell. Kelcie McCray’s face mask penalty could have been worse. Half the distance to the goal is never fun, but 4 yards isn’t a back breaker. Julian Stanford’s illegal contact flag was only five yards, but it came on third down and the pass was incomplete. His lowering the head penalty was also on third down and the play was stopped for -2 yards.
Someone must have been sitting on their fob, as Ford had two false starts. Rookies try to get noticed to land on a roster but it’s not a good luck to collect yellow laundry. Feel free to add your own dad jokes in the comments.
If the crowd reaction at the game is an indicator, fans are still coming to terms with the new rule about lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet rule. Don’t worry that it’s being glossed over here. We’ll be bringing you a more in depth review in the near future. With the potential impact to the game, they deserve to be a focal point and that’s just what will happen.