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Penalty recap: Kansas City Chiefs at Buffalo Bills is short on laundry

Hey, at least there weren’t a ton of penalties

If you can’t win the game, winning the penalty battle is a good consolation prize right? It isn’t? Ah, crap. Well the Buffalo Bills had less laundry than the Kansas City Chiefs anyway. Let’s take a look for the heck of it. There’s a few fun facts to be had.


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty counts

See? The Bills have a clear edge, with only half the penalties of the Chiefs. Let’s get to some weird facts. There were no declined or offset penalties, which is pretty rare. The first five penalties were all on Kansas City, which is also pretty weird. The first penalty didn’t occur until over three minutes into the second quarter. The Bills didn’t have a penalty until the fourth quarter. Speaking of the fourth quarter, eight of the 12 flags occurred in just the final period. That’s a lot of wacky.

For league averages, assessed flags remained exactly the same as last week. There was a slight downtick in thrown flags but we could be nearing the plateau for this season. This is nearly one full flag lower per team each game.

Penalty yards

The yardage is about as expected based on the counts noted above. The Bills didn’t negate any yardage via penalty, while Kansas City wiped out a mere six yards. League average dropped about a half-yard again this week, which is a pretty big swing. The likely reason is a shift toward more procedural penalties at five yards a pop.

Last year’s teams were getting flagged for roughly an additional six yards per game.

Penalty Harm

Buffalo Bills

This is...really boring. You probably should have read a different article. Too late now. You’re invested in flags. The two unnecessary roughness calls on Tre’Davious White and Jordan Poyer don’t need an explanation because they were both pretty obvious calls. White’s was yardage only as the play had earned a first down. Poyer’s tacked on a free down because it was second down and the play was actually stopped for a loss. So yes. They both ****ed up, but Poyer ****ed up way worse.

Mitch Morse’s false start is mildly interesting because the Bills got off a 4th-and1 play before the flag hit the ground. Cody Ford exited with an injury on this “no play.” It was also one of those weird rounding errors that results in the flag being less than the normal amount. The Bills were at their own 34 so it wasn’t a “half the distance to the goal” deal.

Stefon Diggs wasn’t set for a full second when the play started and due to some obscure rules from the Necronomicon it was a false start rather than an illegal shift. Diggs is credited, but Josh Allen could have waited a half-second to avoid the penalty as well. Now if you’re thinking that they needed to move fast you’re right, but the ten-second run off is far worse than a half-second of patience.

Overall though, the Bills only had 4.9 Harm—which is a really clean day.

Kansas City Chiefs

A lot of these were pretty straightforward. Charvarius Ward and Bashaud Breeland both were called for illegal hands to the face. On both plays the Bills were five yards from a first down. On both plays Josh Allen scrambled for six yards. So neither flag gave up any free downs.

Ward’s defensive pass interference on the other hand was on third down and the pass to Stefon Diggs was incomplete (potentially thanks to the pass interference mind you). The 24 yards assessed and two free downs results in 4.4 Harm. Bashaud Breeland wanted to get in on this penalty action too but his flag was only eight yards and one down for 1.8 Harm.

Breeland was a “one-upper” in the end though, also finding himself on the wrong end of an illegal contact call that gave up two more downs in addition to the five yards. Five flags on two players is odd to say the least. Let’s take a look at the Ward DPI for fun.

Mike Remmers got a false start for the usual yardage. Thakarius Keyes was called for offensive holding. It was on a punt, but as a reminder holding on punts and kickoffs is always considered the offensive variant. This was a half the distance flag to explain the 0.6 Harm from six assessed yards.

Nick Allegretti was called for offensive holding on an actual play by the offense. The play was on 3rd-and-1 with Kansas City moving the ball six yards for a touchdown. The assessed yards + negated yards + downs + points negated = whoops. For the actual math that’s 1.0 + 0.6 + 2.0 + 7.0 = 10.6 Harm.

If the Bills had stopped them on the 3rd-and-6 after the flag, a field goal would have been likely creating a four-point swing based on this flag. This potential is why these plays are rated so harshly so as to draw attention to these penalties and take a real close look. The real close look turns up that Kansas City scored the TD anyway.

So uh, you’re not gonna like this. Kansas City had a cumulative 21.4 Harm. That’s a really bad day for flags. One could argue that they hand-delivered multiple opportunities to the Bills. Salt meet wound.