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Penalty recap: AFC Championship, low count doesn’t tell the tale

Fun game for flags at least

I know the Super Bowl woulda been fun. One more chance to see some penalties, amiright? The Buffalo Bills’ tilt against the Kansas City Chiefs at least provided us with some intriguing ones to end the season on. Let’s dive in!


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Count

Both teams kept it below the league average, though the “playoff average” would likely be a bit lower than 5.55 flags per team each game. Both Buffalo and Kansas City had offset penalties raising their true count, though the Bills had a couple more.

Penalty Yards

The yardage plays out similarly to the flag counts. Both teams were able to stay under the league average with Kansas City narrowly edging out the Buffalo Bills. Neither team negated any yardage via penalties.

Penalty Harm

Kansas City

There’s so few of these we might as well discuss them all. Bashaud Breeland’s unnecessary roughness was pretty clear cut when he gave Stefon Diggs a belly to back suplex after a catch. The catch came on second down and didn’t gain a first. The 15 yards and free down results in 2.5 Harm.

L’Jarius Sneed was called for defensive holding on third down. The extra free down means it matches Breeland’s roughness call.

Alex Okafor had himself a bad day for flags. He was called for roughing the passer on this very obvious call.

That one was assessed at half the distance to the goal. The Bills would go on to score a touchdown and recover an onside kick. Exactly one game minute later, Okafor was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for a very late hit that started some shenanigans.

Kansas City had 6.2 Harm total, which is a pretty good day.

Buffalo Bills

Nearly half the Bills’ flags were in retaliation to the second Okafor flag. Not that I’m saying teams SHOULD pile on, but note that the Bills racked up three flags to Okafor’s singular one and ALL of them were offset. So here’s what Josh Allen, Jon Feliciano, and Dion Dawkins did to earn their 0.0 Harm.

For the sake of diplomacy I won’t say Okafor deserved all that, but I also won’t say he didn’t.

Quinton Jefferson was later called for unnecessary roughness, which was probably warranted. Also, Levi Wallace could have been flagged as well for shoving the same player, which put him in Jefferson’s range.

Finally, since I’m theoretically supposed to be using this as a semi-educational platform let’s discuss the defensive holding on Tre’Davious White. Before we take a look, Buffalo’s total harm was 6.8, just slightly above Kansas City’s and also a good day. Now let’s take a peek.

I actually haven’t seen any real chatter on this play as there’s a couple other things that might be on the mind of fans right now. It does provide us a nice look into the rule book though. While contact is allowed in the five-yard zone off the line of scrimmage, defenders are no longer allowed to block once the eligible player becomes even with the defender. The slide asking you to memorize it shows clearly that this occurred and you can see the flag closely follows.

Don’t worry penalty lovers, there’ll be some end-of-year trend stuff still. But for the weekly recaps, I’ll see you in late summer.