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Penalty Recap: New England Patriots at Buffalo Bills low on laundry in Week 14

Maybe the refs wanted to get out of the cold

What a rollercoaster this season has been. The good news is that through the ups and downs of the tumultuous Buffalo Bills 2021 campaign, at least we’ve had lots of fun conversations on rules and officiating. WHEEEEEEEEEEEE! There’s lighter volume this week, which might be for the best.


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Counts

We’re not used to seeing results like this. The Patriots are hovering right around average in counts. The Buffalo Bills are way below. So we got that going for us. Which is nice.

Penalty Yards

Aaaaannnnnd...this is pretty much the same exact story. Everything wrapped up nicely. Earlier than usual.

Penalty Harm

New England Patriots

I don’t think the delay of game and false start merit any conversation, but let me know if you disagree in the comments. The neutral-zone infraction on Matt Judon was pretty straightforward. The bigger story is that there was a perception that the Bills got screwed out of a couple others.

I’m going to be candid for a second. It’s a short week and I’m not exactly looking forward to film review as much as I normally do. So yeah, there’s no way I’m re-watching the entire game looking for no-calls. The good news is that I recalled exactly when one of these occurred, so it was easy enough to GIF it. Here you go.

Yep. No screw job to see here. Unlike the offense, it’s not enough for the defense to be moving or “simulate the snap” (since they can’t simulate a snap). They need to actually cross into the neutral zone and from this angle there’s no evidence that this occurred. Does this mean every no-call was the right call? Of course not, but it’s one of the biggest controversial calls of the night and the refs got it right.

The horse-collar tackle was pretty blatant and a good call. It was half the distance to the goal only for seven yards or 0.7 Harm.

The offensive holding call on Jonnu Smith wiped out a 15-yard gain and a first down from second. That’s 10 assessed yards + 15 negated yards + 1 down. Or 1.0 + 1.5 + 1.0 = 3.5 Harm.

Myles Bryant’s late hit I thought was a bit iffy live. On replay I completely get it and think it’s a good call. It was assessed at the end of the run, which put the Bills just shy of the first on fourth down. That means 15 assessed yards + 3 downs for 4.5 Harm.

Finally, I had a ballpark recollection of a QB hit on Josh Allen that fans thought should have been roughing. I was able to find that pretty quickly (and didn’t see any missed neutral-zone calls on the way for the record). Here’s a look at this one, toward the end of the first half.

Disclaimer: I think it’s fringe enough where I wouldn’t go “nuh uh” if it had been called but I do like it better as a no-call. The refs often look for signs that the defender wasn’t trying to land with all their weight and there are several here. The wrap all the way around Allen means Matthew Judon’s hands hit the ground and there’s some ability for Judon to support his own weight on the tackle. Follow him to the ground. His arms are forming an “O” and if he’s trying to flop on Allen they should go pretty ovoid. They don’t, which means he did try to support his own weight/not flop on Allen. You can also see that he’s pushing right back up after the hit, suggesting his hands were already supporting his weight. In particular his left arm shows positive signs (yes, it’s impossible to tell precisely as it’s behind Allen).

Judon’s legs come off the ground. Initially that’s a check in the “He did flop on Allen” side of the ledger. However as he falls the legs wrap to Allen’s side and there’s some effort to curl up and use his knees to support his weight as well.

In all, the Patriots had 10.2 Harm, which is right on the fence between a good and a bad day.

Buffalo Bills

Not a lot to talk about here. Dawson Knox’s false start was typical for this flag type. It was also another in a long line of bad plays for him against New England.

The delay-of-game flag was one that had everyone up in arms. Rightfully. The broadcast team brought up what SHOULD have been a more official clock than the typical feed, so there’s really nothing remotely like an excuse there. The snap seemed simultaneous with the clock hitting zero and we’re all aware of the built-in “grace period” for this flag.

Spencer Brown’s holding flag had a good replay on the broadcast and I don’t recall anyone thinking it was a bad call so I didn’t take the time to make a GIF. Hopefully you can live with my decision. This penalty was assessed for 10 yards + negated 15 yards + wiped out 2 downs for 4.5 Harm. A literal drive killer.

All told though, Buffalo only had 5.5 Harm. It’s their cleanest game this season if that’s any comfort (Hint: No).


Weekly Trackers

The most-wanted didn’t change this week. At all. Just outside the top ten, Spencer Brown is trying to move up the ranks so maybe next week. As you can see, this ties the best week this year for count, but comes out ahead in yards and Harm.