Well, that game sure sucked.
Luckily, there’s always penalties to talk about, and what could be more exciting than that? Although, there aren’t that many penalties to talk about from the Buffalo Bills’ 20-17 loss to the New York Jets. Really, this whole game was a bust, wasn’t it? Maybe I can work in a no-call this week, too, in order to spice things up.
Standard and Advanced Metrics
This is a snooze-fest, with the only curiosity that both teams performed identically when it comes to both count types. That number is well below the league rate, suggesting that things went well for both teams on the penalty front.
From an assessed standpoint, the teams remain in deadlock. There is some separation in the True Yards metric, as Buffalo elected to wipe out more of their own yards than the Jets did. Spoiler: It was Stefon Diggs’ catch at the end of the game.
New York Jets
With so few flags, you’d think I’d just talk about them all, but **** false-start flags.
Cornerback Justin Hardee was called for unnecessary roughness on a fourth-quarter Jets punt. It tacked on 15 yards to the, uh...fair catch.
Linebacker Marcell Harris was called for holding on a kickoff from Tyler Bass. That call wiped out 18 yards of a 40-return by wider receiver Braxton Berrios. 10 yards plus 18 yards = 2.8 Harm.
All told, the Jets only had 4.8 Harm, which is pretty dang low. Let’s discuss a non-call that I’m likely going to get yelled at for in the comments. Especially with so few other words to bury my opinion under.
Yes, I’m talking about why pass interference wasn’t called on rookie cornerback Sauce Gardner while defending against wide receiver Gabe Davis at the end of the game. Before we go on, let’s quote some language from the rules. Pass interference is an action that “significantly hinders an eligible player’s opportunity to catch the ball.” Examples included contact that “restricts the opponent’s opportunity to make the catch,” or playing through the opponent’s back, grabbing an arm, shoving, etc.
All examples reiterate the concept of action that “restricts” the other player from making the catch. Contact itself is not illegal. It’s restrictive contact. Now that we have that cleared up, let’s take a look.
Gardner played this nearly flawlessly. I say “nearly” because Davis had an opportunity to make a catch. But to the point, there’s no restriction of Davis whatsoever. The closest thing we have to a restrictive movement is when Davis gives a little shove, seen best in the first angle. This was a good no-call.
This is also mostly boring. Defensive tackle Tim Settle’s encroachment was quite obvious, and is nearly as boring as a false start. Safety Jaquan Johnson was called for a face mask. The Jets had already gotten their first down with yardage, so this was tacked on at the end for a straightforward 15 yards or 1.5 Harm.
Dion Dawkins orchestrated the other controversial moment at the end of the game. The holding call wiped out a 26-yard gain that would have set the Bills up at midfield needing a field goal to send the game to overtime (or a touchdown to win). It was a 36-yard swing in total, with the assessed yards added in and part of the back-breaking end to the game. But was it the right call?
You’re not gonna like my answer here either. As above, let’s get the rules out of the way before the viewing. Offensive holding requires the player to create a “material restriction” that alters the opponent’s “path or angle of pursuit.” The rulebook examples are:
1. grabbing or tackling an opponent;
2. hooking, jerking, twisting, or turning him; or
3. pulling him to the ground.
I saw a few people on social media call this a pancake, and that is not remotely correct. A pancake is where the offensive lineman pushes the defender forcefully enough to make them flat. Like a pancake. Dawkins doesn’t do that. He’s backpedaling. Also, his arms never extend. There’s zero “push.”
Instead, he twists and pulls his opponent. You might say he pulled him to the ground. Those words match the words in the rule book. There’s an argument that he’s helped to the ground by offensive guard Rodger Saffold, but it’s not a great one. I’m not saying Saffold didn’t potentially impact things, only that it’s not definitive enough to completely negate the holding call.
Of course, I wouldn’t have minded if this was a no-call, even if it weren’t a critical moment for Buffalo. It’s not an egregious flag by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s also a far cry from a bad call.
The Bills ended their day with 5.6 Harm, which is a good day when it comes to penalties.
Thought I was done? One more thing...
It wouldn't be a Land Clark game without at least one strange call. It wasn't simultaneous possession. Tremaine Edmunds had the ball first.