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Penalty recap: Washington at Buffalo made my job easy this week

Pretty boring penalties this week, but it gives me the chance to try out a new feature!

Look everyone. I know how much you all look forward to penalty recaps as it’s in no way a niche topic and is, in fact, exceedingly popular. But this week is kinda boring. I’m really sorry, but it’s not my fault. Washington and the Buffalo Bills flat out REFUSED to be heavily penalized. So with all the extra time I had avoiding data entry, I elected to try out a new feature I’ll explain below. Maybe we can salvage this thing.

Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Counts

The good news is that the league average continues to decrease for both assessed penalty count and the true count, which includes declined and offset. Buffalo and Washington were well below average in both measures. The only fun thing is that they had a normal amount of declined penalties (two each). But the ratio of assessed/declined is really weird.

Penalty Yards

It’s hard to get dinged for a lot of yards without a lot of flags so these charts should come as no surprise. Despite the higher count, Washington had the lower assessed yards with three five-yard penalties. Both of Buffalo’s were of the ten-yard variety.

True yards tacks on yards negated by penalty. Buffalo negated five while Washington negated ten. They end even using this measure.

Penalty Harm


The two offensive holding calls were declined. The one on Morgan Moses came on a second-down stop where Adrian Peterson ran for no gain. The Bills preferred letting the down lapse rather than allowing another shot at it. The Donald Penn call was on 4th-and-4 where the Bills escorted Wendell Smallwood to the sideline after only a two-yard gain. The Bills wisely elected to take the victory here as there was only 1:21 left in the game.

Since we have so few penalties that “counted” let’s try out a new feature called “Skare’s bull$#!% meter!” One of the hottest things to discuss with penalties is whether or not they were called fairly. On a scale from 0-10; with 0 being a “textbook flag” and 10 being “New Orleans Saints getting screwed out of a Super Bowl trip,” I’ll tack a number on all five assessed penalties. And then you get to tell me what an idiot I am in the comments!

This penalty rated 0.5 harm for yards only. On the new BS meter I rate it a 1. Jeremy Sprinkle has clearly committed a penalty—I just don’t agree they called the right one. He’s allowed to motion/shift, so his actions don’t simulate the start of play. He is, however, supposed to reset for a full second before the ball is snapped. As Sprinkle does not, this should have been called illegal shift. The end result would have been the same.

The penalty above gets a “???” non-ranking on the BS meter because I can’t definitively tell if he did or didn’t report in. He made sure to do so the rest of the game though. For the usual rating, it comes out at 1.5 Harm as a result of 5 assessed yards + 10 negated yards.

This defensive holding call rated 1.5 Harm as well. The 5 assessed yards count for 0.5 and the one free down is the rest. It rated zero in the BS meter because the rules specifically prohibit tackling dudes that don’t have the ball. This one is textbook.

Washington accumulated 3.5 Harm total. That translates to an incredibly clean game.

Buffalo Bills

Mitch Morse was called for holding but Washington had sacked Josh Allen so it’s an easy decline on that. Similarly, Quinton Spain’s illegal block in the back was on a pass to Devin Singletary that lost seven yards.

Another textbook penalty as Andre Roberts blocks from behind. It’s not an egregious shove, but on the other hand an egregious shove might have made a good case for unnecessary roughness. The harm lands at 1.1 as the 10-yard penalty wiped out one yard of the three that Singletary gained.

This flag wiped out a four-yard gain in addition to the 10 assessed yards, totaling 1.4 Harm. It rates a three on the BS meter as holding is a rare penalty that’s only supposed to be called if the official clearly sees every element of the infraction. I think this one is pretty nitpicky at best. There’s a possible grab/tug and maybe it causes the slip but I’m not convinced. I can understand it being called in real time to some degree but it’s kinda BS.

The Bills landed at 2.5 total Harm which is even better than Washington. Bills fans wouldn’t mind more games like this one. Finally, since I guarantee it would have come up, here’s a look at the non-call on the defensive pass interference late in the third quarter.

Is it defensive pass interference? Probably. Contact occurs before the ball arrives, for sure. There are two mitigating factors, however. The difference is about two frames or 1⁄10 of a second. That’s really darn close to simultaneous. Additionally, pass interference isn’t called for any contact—it’s only for contact that “significantly hinders” the opponent’s chance to catch the ball. I don’t think the contact pushed John Brown enough to significantly hinder him in the short time between the two events.

I gotta be honest, I was 100% fine with the no-call in real time. It rates as a two in the BS meter because it’s also one that I wouldn’t hate if it had been called. It’s a good no-call but one where, with evidence, it could have been called differently and still have been fair.