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Penalty recap: Miami Dolphins at Buffalo Bills is a snoozefest

Well, when it comes to penalties at least

I’m sorry everyone. I know how much you all look forward to riveting rules recaps. The Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins let us down. Hopefully you can forgive a much shorter recap than normal thanks to their complete disregard for this weekly column.


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Count

Just look at this! What the heck am I even supposed to do with these numbers? Even in a year when penalties were down across the board, both teams were roughly half the league rate.

At least we can discuss league rate. Last year the average team had 6.74 flags per game assessed and 8.09 thrown. This season was a massive change. How massive? In 2018 it was 6.73 assessed and 7.94 thrown. That means from 2018 to 2019 assessed flags lowered by 0.01 and total penalties went up by 0.15 per team each game. That compares to decreases of 1.11 and 1.52 respectively.

Penalty Yards

Just pathetic. Not only were both teams well and truly below league average, neither had the courtesy to negate any yards via penalty. At least we have the league rate to talk about again.

We see a similar pattern as above. In 2018 the league average was 57.47 yards assessed per game. In 2019 it was 57.30 yards. The 2020 rate of 48.70 yards per game is a major decline.

Penalty Harm

Miami Dolphins

Out of three flags, two are completely uninteresting. The false start on Durham Smythe was the usual yardage. Zach Sieler was called for being offsides. Josh Allen threw a touchdown pass to Isaiah McKenzie and to no one’s surprise the flag was declined.

Christian Wilkins’s flag for unnecessary roughness was the 15 yards assessed and that’s it. It was added to the play after a 16-yard gain from Stefon Diggs. Let’s take a look and see if it was at least warranted.

Diggs is running low to the ground before the slide and it appears Wilkins begins his tackle attempt at an appropriate time. That said, the end result was after the slide started and there was contact to the head. I understand why they called it but I also would have understood if they hadn’t.

The Dolphins’ total lands at 2.0 Harm. I can’t figure out just two! Let’s pretend they rated 200.

Buffalo Bills

Ed Oliver’s offsides flag came on a Dolphins touchdown so this one was definitely also getting declined. Siran Neal’s false start was on special teams. Corey Bojorquez managed a 67-yard punt and the flag wasn’t a huge deal (this was the one that was muffed).

Let’s check in on the defensive pass interference calls, starting with Levi Wallace.

Aaaaaand the one on Josh Norman.

Both are pretty similar and both are pretty obvious calls. The one on Wallace was yards only as it occurred on first down. Norman’s was on fourth down and turned a stop into a touchdown as the Dolphins scored on the next play (Oliver penalty strangely enough).

Three free downs and three yards comes out to the 3.3 Harm, which is higher than the Dolphins had as a team. Head coach Sean McDermott, who I assume reads and loves these articles, had this reaction...

The Bills had 4.6 Harm total, which is still a really nice day. There was one little fun fact. The Dolphins’ three penalties were the first three of the game, and the Bills’ four were the last four.