The Buffalo Bills are back-to-back AFC East Champions! As a bonus, they had just a few flags on their way to besting the New York Jets to finish the season on a high note. This should be a shorter recap as a result and I don’t recall much officiating controversy. There is one oddity to stick around for so let’s dive in.
Standard and Advanced Metrics
In Mortal Kombat, prior to facing the real bosses you needed to confront yourself in the form of a mirror match. For the Buffalo Bills, before they tackle the playoff bosses, they decided to have a penalty mirror match against the Jets. Not only are the counts/true counts identical, but the flag for each team that wasn’t assessed was due to being offset, so on the same play. Making it even more silly, it was the Reid Ferguson and Nick Bawden scuffle that was offset where both were called for the same penalty (unnecessary roughness).
This is certainly less mirror match but no worries as both teams kept it pretty clean. The biggest discrepancy is on the true yards side. The assessed yards was a pretty small gap of 13 yards, which is more than doubled when you factor in yards that Buffalo erased due to penalty. To be fair, you have to move the ball in order to negate yards so I’m not sure how the Jets could have been expected to keep up here.
New York Jets
With only five flags it’s easy enough to discuss them all. But I won’t. Forget false starts. The Bryce Hall defensive pass interference occurred on third down, and was assessed for ten yards. With one Harm point per down and 0.1 per yard that lands at 3.0 Harm. Occurring at the very end of the second quarter, the actual result was a slightly easier field goal attempt for Tyler Bass.
Brandin Echols was also called for pass interference for ten yards. The big difference was that this one occurred on second down. More specifically, 2nd & 12 and an incomplete pass. The Bills could have converted, sure, but it made the touchdown drive easier.
Nick Bawden’s unnecessary roughness was offset. I was going to do a GIF of this because Reid Ferguson had a pretty sweet takedown that earned HIS flag to draw the offset. I won’t bore anyone with the details but the year of crappy Game Pass continues.
Hamsah Nasirildeen was called for unnecessary roughness as well. This one counted and you likely remember it. Late hits on our QB1 are never appreciated. This one was minimal damage in the yardage with only two yards gained, but it did give a free down to Buffalo, assisting in another touchdown.
Overall, the Jets had 6.7 Harm. That’s on the right side of things, which isn’t much of a shock given the low count.
We already discussed the flag on Reid Ferguson. I can’t show it to you but I can point out that Ferguson gets one flag every two years. So no worries about a long snapper penalty for the 2022 season.
Siran Neal’s holding call came on a return. It wiped out five Isaiah McKenzie yards, in addition to the ten assessed, for 1.5 Harm.
Tommy Doyle’s call negated an 11-yard run from Devin Singletary. That run also earned a first down from second. For the formula junkies that’s 1.0 Harm on the assessed + 1.1 for negated yards + 1.0 for the negated yard for 3.1 Harm.
I refuse to make a GIF of the Tyrel Dodson flag though I could for this one. Five yards is a pretty inconsequential penalty. Unless of course it happens on arguably the worst (not-blocked) punt of the season. This was the one where Matt Haack botched the snap, recovered and was able to get a kick off. Of seven yards. SEVEN. YARDS! The Jets returned it two yards and the Dodson flag was five. Pretty easy math but if you weren’t following along the Haack/Dodson combo play resulted in a zero-yard punt.
Ryan Bates was called for a low block, which is pretty rare. I don’t have the replay on this one but from the main angle it does look like he dives to make a block so it’s likely legitimate. This occurred on a downfield block during an Isaiah McKenzie end-around gain of 11. This was spot of the foul so McKenzie kept ten of his 11 yards. That means Bates was called for 15 and negated one yard for 1.6 Harm.
The Buffalo Bills ended up with 6.7 Harm. If you didn’t realize that the Mortal Kombat reference was foreshadowing...SURPRISE!
For the weekly tracking data, I think the charts will hold up with a few extra games added so we’ll let it ride. As far as notes, the three numeric measures (count, yards, Harm) have been up and down for Buffalo. There’s a decent chance they’re due for a more heavily penalized game. It is the playoffs though and there does seem to be some validity that there are less flags tossed. In the Most Wanted list, the only change in the top ten is Siran Neal moving ahead of Emmanuel Sanders.