I am so grateful that I don’t do all the data entry and calculations for penalties in the preseason. I mean... holy ****. Those of you who have been reading my penalty rants for years know I am almost always on the side of the officials — who typically do a great job in my opinion. That said, there’s one person who has somehow been at the center of many odd calls and games involving the Buffalo Bills. Land Clark. Or as I call him “Land. ****ing. Clark.”
Hopefully he got his fill of crapping on a Bills game out of the way for the year in preseason action, because it’s highly likely a Buffalo game or two will be officiated by the “Land. ****ing. Clark.” crew in the regular season. Let’s dive in, I guess.
This will be a short description as Pittsburgh was assessed four penalties for 26 yards. An illegal-use-of-hands flag in the second quarter called back a 20-yard pass. That 30-yard total swing was on third down and effectively killed the drive.
Aside from that they had an illegal formation, offensive holding, and a too-many-men-on-the-field flag. There’s been some hubbub about the Bills having a miscue on offense to start the game. Specifically, they only had ten players on the field. I point that out now in the context of this paragraph to point out all teams make some weird mistakes in the preseason.
Also, go check out my Kaiir Elam piece from this week. Why? Play 6 shows Elam “giving up” a touchdown. While partially true, it’s also what appears to be a pretty obvious offensive pass interference that wasn’t called.
The Bills had 13 penalties assessed for 93 yards. That’s... not a good day. The Pittsburgh Steelers had 17 first downs in the game. Five from penalties. To contrast things a bit, Buffalo had 20 first downs in the game. Six from rushing attempts and 14 from passing. Go ahead and do the math on that real quick to find out how many came from penalties. Did you get “zero?”
Even crazier is that 12 of the flags, and four of the first downs given to the Steelers all occurred in the first half. The only logical conclusion is that “Land. ****ing. Clark.” and his crew all ended up with rotator cuff injuries from throwing so many so quickly early on.
Buffalo had three penalties in a row with the first-team offense. An illegal block above the waist that wiped out five yards on a six-yard gain. Then a false start. Then an offensive holding call that wiped out a 35-yard gain. That’s 25 yards of penalties, and 40 negated yards. Buffalo officially went from 2nd & 10 to 2nd & 34.
Things were so bad that I was flagged for an illegal motion penalty when I failed to reset for a full second after shifting on the couch.
I think we’re all done with penalty talk for this week. I’ll leave you with one thought: I’ve been tracking Buffalo Bills penalties more thoroughly than probably anyone else on the planet. While Buffalo has been penalty prone during McDermott era, there’s no reason to think that this game is representative of anything.