The Electric Commentary

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Michael David Smith

on EC favorite, Ed "Hercules" Hochuli:

The league admits that penalties decline in the playoffs but claims that’s because good teams don’t commit penalties and good teams make the playoffs. That’s just not true. In reality, there’s no statistical correlation between the number of a team’s penalties and its winning percentage. Good teams are more aggressive, and aggressiveness leads to penalties. Winning teams also tend to be smarter about taking penalties at the right times; it’s often advantageous to take a delay-of-game penalty rather than waste a timeout.

In truth, each year the NFL has 11 referees working 11 playoff games, and each year Hochuli gets more face time than any other ref. Maybe that’s because he’s the only one who doesn’t back off from making the tough calls in the playoffs. Maybe he’s too anxious to throw his flag. Or maybe he just wants a wide audience to see his bulging pecs. Whatever the reason, Hochuli and his crew consistently call more penalties than any other group of officials in the NFL at playoff time.

Consider some of the numbers. Saturday’s Chargers-Jets game had 17 accepted penalties for 124 yards, all in regulation. This weekend’s other three games all had fewer penalties for fewer yards, with an average of 12 for 84 yards.

Last season, the 12 playoff teams averaged 6.3 penalties for 51.6 yards a game during the regular season. In the playoffs, those same teams averaged 4.6 penalties for 34.5 yards a game. That was a drop of 27% in terms of penalties per game and 33% in terms of yards per game. Then Ed Hochuli refereed the Super Bowl and promptly gave us a game in which the teams combined to accept 20 penalties for 133 yards.

Read the whole thing.


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