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Penalty recap: Ravens at Bills, Divisional Round

Bills win in the flag department too

One of the most heavily penalized teams in the league during the regular season, the Buffalo Bills are keeping their nose clean in the postseason. It could be argued that the refs are keeping it in their pants for the playoffs, but this week contradicts this as the sole factor. You’ll see precisely below, but the Ravens did not appear to gain a playoff benefit.


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty counts

Neither team had any penalties declined or offset flags so aside from the league averages, the left and right side are identical. Speaking of league averages, these both dipped slightly, which is significant after remaining stable for the later part of the regular season.

Not much explaining is needed here. If you’re going to quadruple your opponent in something, penalties probably aren’t a good choice.

Penalty yards

The assessed yards closely follow the counts. When we add in negated yards, the Bills decrease by one yard (more on that in a minute). Baltimore adds 18 yards. A rounding anomaly is to blame for Buffalo’s assessed yards. They were given two five-yard flags but, due to the exact placement before and after, the official play-by-play shows a six-yard difference. We’ve seen that a few times this season.

Penalty Harm

Buffalo Bills

These are about as interesting as an offsides flag can get. Which is to say, “mildly intriguing at best.” The one called on Ed Oliver was the five-yard one, but it negated a one-yard Lamar Jackson run for a difference of four yards.

A.J. Klein’s could have been more significant. The Ravens were going for it on 4th-and-1 and the Bills stopped them cold. Klein’s flag was the one rounded up, plus it gave Baltimore three free downs. The drive ultimately ended in Baltimore’s first missed field goal of the night.

The Bills’ total of 4.1 Harm on the night reinforces their clean outing.

Baltimore Ravens

Most of these are pretty straightforward. Two of the false starts were in a row and half the distance to the goal (Andrews and Bozeman for three and two yards respectively). They were also right after the holding call on Flowers, which was five yards and wiped out an 18-yard gain from Lamar Jackson. The Ravens converted but the drive stalled shortly after.

Jackson’s intentional grounding was for 23 yards and the lost down, or 2.3 + 1.0 for the 3.3 Harm.

Justin Madubuike was called for this year’s newest penalty. It’s called “Josh Allen selling it like it was roughing the passer.” There was a bit of a late shove, but Allen continues to try to earn awards, even if they’re in a different career arc.

The big one from the night was on Malik Harrison. Punting crimes are the worst kind of crimes when they give up chances. This one did. To understand the high rating for these, they’re assessed for every down “flipped” as a result of the call. That’s three that the Bills got back, and four that the Ravens lost.

None of these flags was controversial enough for a GIF, but for the rules nerds out there like me, the big difference here is that Harrison ran into the kicking leg, not the plant leg. And Bojorquez was also in the air at the time. This happened right at the two-minute warning in the second half. Had the game been closer it would have given the Bills a free shot at a two-minute drill. In this case, it just allowed Josh Allen to take a knee and let the defense get an early start on some much needed rest.

The Ravens ended up with 15.7 Harm, which is a fairly rough day.