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Penalty recap: Buffalo Bills at Houston Texans

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Buffalo Bills have a much rougher day than Texans when it comes to flags

For the final recap of the season we have playoff penalties to review. The general belief is that penalties are less frequent in the playoffs...unless you’re the Buffalo Bills of course. Let’s take a look at how they did.


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Counts

This pretty much speaks for itself doesn’t it? While it’s easily argued that the Bills were pretty average when it comes to penalty counts, it kinda chaps the ol’ behind to see the big disparity in the two teams. But wait! There’s more.

Penalty Yards

This looks really bad of course, so let’s see if some math will make us feel better. Combining the last two charts, the Buffalo Bills had over nine yards per penalty on average. The Houston Texans had five. That did not help.

Let’s see if looking at the yards negated by penalty helps make it more...nevermind.

Penalty Harm

Houston Texans

This might be top-three when it comes to most boring charts in the history of penalty recaps. Laremy Tunsil tried hard to make it a little more interesting but false starts aren’t cutting it. Both were tiny flinches. Enough to justify the call for sure, but standard fare.

Both delay of games came on punts. And both punts landed inside the 20 (at the 10 and 4 to be precise). So they weren’t exactly game-breaking. And they both seemed pretty intentional to give room for the punt. Add all these up and you get 2.0 Harm for the entire game by Houston.

This last one was offset, so let’s take a peek and maybe we’ll finally have something interesting.

I have zero issue with the call on Nick Martin. While it could be argued that the ref blew the whistle early on the turnover, that’s another debate. The whistle is clear, Tremaine Edmunds gets up and is wrapped up by a whole lotta people and Martin comes in with a hit. It’s not particularly vicious but none of that should have happened. Jerry Hughes, who wasn’t on the field, comes in and starts tugging on something. We can’t see what, but he’s called for unnecessary roughness for grabbing the face mask. Did he? I dunno.

Buffalo Bills

We already covered the Hughes penalty and there’s several boo-boo ones such as the false starts on Ty Nsekhe and Dion Dawkins. Since this is it for game recaps, let’s do the rest of them in style. Cutting to the chase, the Bills accumulated 9.9 Harm, which is near the fringe of a bad day.

It’s the assessed yards only for this penalty for 1.0 Harm, and no real reason to discuss whether it was the right call.

Just the assessed yards here as well, and again an obvious call.

While just as obvious as the last two, this one has a more interesting calculation at least. Tyler Kroft wiped out a first down from 2nd and 11 with this hold. That’s 1 for the down, 1.0 for the assessed yards and 1.1 for the negated yards for 3.1 Harm.

I received an email suggesting that the ball was tipped on this play. By rule, a tipped pass does negate an intentional grounding call. I didn’t show the Jon Feliciano illegal touch because that too would be negated by a tipped pass. And it was clear he touched the ball. So the goal then was to make sure I had the best shot of the potential tipped ball as I could. I did look at every angle I had, which included the All-22.

The results are inconclusive. Matt Warren pointed out Josh Allen tried to make the case for a tipped pass and that can be seen in the broadcast film. This is the best angle I could find and the best framing and timing I could get as far as the software syncing up at the split second I needed. If I had to lean one way I’d say it was not tipped, but I’m not ruling out the possibility. The ball flops end to end, which is possible from rolling off the fingers but also could mean the ball was tipped.

I give this one a BS rating of 1 primarily because Devin Singletary was in the area-ish. Spot of the foul (14 yards) and a loss of down led to 2.4 Harm. Now then, are you ready to possibly hate me?

The most debated call of the game and I’m firmly on the side of the officials. First, here’s the exact wording of the rule:

“It is a foul if a player initiates a block when his path is toward or parallel to his own end line and makes forcible contact to his opponent with his helmet, forearm, or shoulder.”

Let’s break down the elements of the infraction:

  1. Player initiates a block—Check
  2. While his path is toward or parallel to own end line—Check
  3. Makes forcible contact to opponent—More subjective, but that’s why I have that final shot of Angle 3 in there. Elevating like that is pretty much always going to be seen as forcible. The defender’s body shows some signs of a good jolt as well
  4. Contact made with helmet, forearm, or shoulder—D. All of the above

I’ve already had a lot of discussion on this flag so why not some more. Feel free to debate this one in the comments, just be nice to each other. You already know my opinion. Cody Ford is trying to put a little extra oomph into a block than he needs, and is doing it toward his own end line. It might not be a play the NFL will put in its video rule book when it gets around to creating the blindside block entry but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it there either. The BS rating of one is a result of this. It’s not the worst example of the violation I can find, but it’s not fringe either.

As I’ve already noted, the game wasn’t perfectly officiated, but the penalties that were called were based entirely on merit.