The Pittsburgh Steelers were flagged a season-high nine times on Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles for accepted penalties. While most of them were rather minor in terms of severity—they only amounted to 60 total penalty yards, primarily on offense—they start to add up.
Both in-game and over time. The nine more penalties added on to that which they accumulated in the first seven weeks now gives them 51 on the season, which is certainly rather high, approximately in the top 10, but not near the most—the Denver Broncos have 70.
Still, we’re not concerned with the Broncos but rather the Steelers, and how their penalties are hurting their slim chances of success, one of the numerous reasons that they find themselves sitting at 2-6 through the halfway point of the season. Still, some wondered if it’s not all a bit much.
“Penalties were definitely a problem. You can’t do anything when you have eight penalties. That’s [screwing] up the whole drive”, guard Kevin Dotson was quoted in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as saying, by Brian Batko. Yet he added, “They were definitely calling stuff that other refs wouldn’t call…I feel like they were really on one today”.
The most peculiar variety of penalty on the season has been the ineligible man downfield infraction. The Steelers do in fact lead the league in such penalties this season now with five after adding yet another one of them yesterday, Dotson the violating player.
It’s not an aberration, however. The Carolina Panthers and Miami Dolphins have both been flagged for the same penalty four times this season. The New York Jets and Philadelphia Eagles have each drawn it three times, as well.
Data shows, however, that the trend toward this penalty being called more really began in 2019, with 2021 marking its highest rate to date. But the 2022 season is well on its way toward eclipsing that. Teams averaged 1.44 ineligible downfield pass penalties for the season last year, cumulatively.
We’re not even halfway through the season and that number is already up to 1.38 per team. At this rate, we could be looking at the average team being called for an ineligible downfield pass three times, more than double the next-highest rate on record, according to NFLPenalties.com.
Why so high? For football reasons, it obviously has a lot to do with the continued proliferation of the run-pass option, which can find linemen run-blocking down the field on a play that ends up being a pass, but it also certainly seems to be a point of emphasis.
Dotson wasn’t all about playing the blame game, however, even if he didn’t seem to agree with all of the penalties the Steelers were charged with—which seemed to be a common theme. “I mean, we’re gonna have to fix it regardless, if we had a bye week or not”, he said about addressing the undisciplined penalties. “We’ll do what we can. We’re all going to take more time during this off week. But we’ve got to get it done”.