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Bills vs. Chiefs Penalty Recap: A lopsided performance involving flags

Offensive offside is rare but fairly hard to fudge for the conspiracy theorists

Indianapolis Colts v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

There are so many things to talk about this week! An arrest. An article that fanned the flames on a seat many fans think should already be hot. A huge Conference win to keep the Buffalo Bills playoff hopes alive. What should we talk about? I know! Rules and numbers! I know a few of you sickos have been looking forward to this and for that I love ya.

Let’s get to it!


Standard and Advanced Metrics

Penalty Counts

This is fun. The Buffalo Bills rarely have this clean of a game with penalty counts, so let’s begin by basking in the glory of “lower than league average” for a minute. Now that you’ve appropriately basked, Kansas City was worse off than Buffalo, but the ref-hating KC fans won’t be reassured by the fact that their team was right around their season average. So far, advantage: Buffalo.

Penalty Yards

For the assessed yards on the left-hand side the teams were remarkably similar. Buffalo’s result seems in line with their counts. Kansas City’s seems a bit low but not terrible. It suggests that they overall steered toward procedural penalties.

On true yards, the Bills negated/impacted 24 yards, which is a decent jump. The Chiefs’ chart is wild as they more than double their yardage when considering negated/impacted yards. Bills Mafa will find it funny where most of that yardage came from.

Penalty Harm

Kansas City

For data lovers, it’s always special when one item on a bar graph throws the scale so far out of whack it makes everything else nearly impossible to compare. Thank you Kadarius Toney. We’ll come back to him in a minute. For now, let’s say there’s no point discussing the two false start flags or the neutral zone infraction.

Tight end Travis Kelce’s offensive pass interference was just the assessed yards as the pass was incomplete. He clearly pushed off, but not enough to make the catch. I’m not saying that so much to be petty as I am to make sure I start using the word “clearly” as soon as I can. Overall I felt Carl Cheffers’ crew did a great job and penalties were clearly the right call.

Center Creed Humphrey was called for offensive holding. In addition to the ten assessed yards, it wiped out a seven-yard gain.

Cornerback Jaylen Watson was called for illegal contact. This is a five-yard flag. It wiped out a four-yard sack on Josh Allen and gave up a first down from third (two free downs). That made it the second-highest flag on Kansas City at 2.9 Harm.

Last but certainly not least was the offensive offside flag on Kadarius Toney. I’m going to be slightly disappointing right now as this flag will be my Skarey Movies topic for this game. What I’ll stick to for the usual penalty recap is that the broadcast showed it clearly. Toney was offside and this was clearly the right call. If you’re looking for a deep dive into why Chiefs players, coaches, and fans should quit whining about this one I’ll more than deliver on that promise, so stay tuned.

As for the formula, the flag itself is a mere five yards. It wiped out 49 yards of offense. It wiped out a possible first down from second (for one impacted down). And of course, it negated the possible game-winning touchdown. For Harm that’s 0.5 for the assessed yards, 4.9 for the negated yards, 1.0 for the down negated, and 7.0 for the negated touchdown. The 13.4 Harm on this flag isn’t the record, but it’s way up there.

Kansas City would break the 10.0 “bad day” threshold with just the flag on Toney. With all of them together they had 20.5 Harm, which is rough for sure.

Buffalo Bills

The offensive holding on center Mitch Morse was declined as the result of the play left Buffalo with 4th & 7. Similarly boring, defensive tackle Linval Joseph was called for defensive holding, which was just the five assessed yards.

Tight end Dawson Knox, left tackle Dion Dawkins, and right tackle Spencer Brown were all called for offensive holding. Knox’s wiped out a one-yard run by Ty Johnson, which barely moves the needle.

Dawkins’ wiped out an 11-yard pass to tight end Dalton Kincaid that gained a first down from second. That’s ten assessed yards plus 11 negated plus one negated down for 3.1 Harm. After watching this one again, I don’t think Dawkins actually pulled his guy to the ground — so I don’t think he actually committed holding. In real time, this is a mistake that’s not uncommon from officials and isn’t a bad call.

Brown’s was worse than Dawkins’ was, as it negated a 12-yard gain by running back Latavius Murray and a first down on a third-down play. That’s 1.0 + 1.2 + 2.0 = 4.0 Harm.

On the day, Buffalo had 8.9 Harm, squeaking by on the good side of our rule of thumb.


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