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Penalty recap: Houston Texans vs Buffalo Bills

It was pretty lopsided in flags too...

The Buffalo Bills faced off with the Houston Texans this past Sunday in one of the most lopsided affairs in team history. That was reflected in more than the score, with most stats painting the same picture condemning the Texans and exalting the Bills. Penalties are no different, with Buffalo setting some season lows.


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Count

The NFL averages ticked down again this week as expected. Aside from that, is there any explanation needed? The chart says it all.

Penalty Yards

I’ll do a little more explaining here. The assessed yards tell a pretty clear picture. For true yards, the Bills added nearly twice the negated yards that Houston did (40 vs. 23) but it’s nowhere near enough to close the gap. Both teams averaged ten yards per flag, so really this is mostly a function of counts.

Penalty Harm

Houston Texans

A fair few of these were pretty straightforward. Laremy Tunsil’s holding, the face mask on Pharaoh Brown, holding on Max Scharping, and unnecessary roughness on Chris Conley were all assessed yards only.

The holding on Tytus Howard wiped out a four-yard gain to add 0.4 harm to the 1.0 on the assessed yards. A.J. Moore wiped out six yards on his. Jordan Akins was also flagged for holding (which Texan wasn’t? yeesh). His wiped out a 13-yard gain that was juuuuuust enough to get a first down from 3rd & 13. The only mitigating factor was that it was “merely” half the distance to the goal for eight yards. That’s 0.8 on the assessed yards, 1.3 on the negated, and 2.0 for the lost downs for a total of 4.1 Harm.

Tavierre Thomas was flagged for unnecessary roughness, which was half the distance to the goal and that’s it. The same applies to Lonnie Johnson Jr.’s flag, except that one will live on in Bills lore because of this...

This sounds dumb just typing it but here goes: The most interesting flag was the neutral-zone infraction on Jacob Martin. Bear with me here. The Buffalo Bills had the ball. It’s 3rd & 5. The Texans are flagged for a neutral zone infraction, and are assessed...FOUR yards. Bills accept the penalty and it’s now 3rd & 1. That’s all 100 percent accurate to the recorded play-by-play. At least a few times a year we see “rounding” errors in flags. While the play-by-play lists distances as whole numbers only, the refs do actually spot the ball between yards. The Bills were really more like 3rd & 5.5 and the penalty was assessed correctly. But due to rounding errors in the spot of the ball, it creates the appearance of a four-yard neutral-zone infraction.

The Texans had a pretty rough day, amassing 14.3 Harm in total.

Buffalo Bills

This should be quick. Both Siran Neal and Tyrel Dodson were flagged for holding on punts. Neal’s wiped out two yards on the return, but as a spot foul Isaiah McKenzie got to keep ten of his 12 yards. Dodson’s occurred as McKenzie was ending his six-yard return and he got to keep all of them. Both naturally also pushed the ball back from the spot by ten yards.

Darryl Williams had the worst flag of the day, coming after Devin Singletary had run for 41 yards. This one was a bit of an oddity as holding usually occurs early enough in the play to wipe it all out. Instead, three of Singletary’s yards counted, and “only” 38 were negated. Ten assessed yards = 1.0 harm and the 38 negated adds another 3.8 harm to the mix for the total of 4.8.

The Bills were on the right side of the ledger this week with 7.0 Harm. That’s a clean week in the grand scheme of things, but pretty high for only three flags.

Weekly Tracker

There were a few requests for this new addition, which I’m pretty happy to try out. I did look into adding league average trend lines, but on the couple charts that could use them it started to look a bit cluttered. When I have more time I’ll try to sort that out better. I was able to add the “most wanted” list, which should be easy enough to update each week. I have the list sorted by Harm because I’m self-centered, and with the time I put into calculating it I may as well pretend it’s the most important metric. I have assessed count and yards in there as well for quick perusal.