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Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2012 season

10.02.12 at 9:00 am ET
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Through four weeks, the Patriots have been flagged for 22 penalties (26th in the league) for a total of 173 yards (29th in the league). Here’s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots this year, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
TE Rob Gronkowski: three penalties (two offensive holding, false start), 20 yards
CB Devin McCourty: two penalties (defensive holding, defensive pass interference), 32 yards
WR Julian Edelman: two penalties (false start, offensive pass interference), 15 yards
Team: two penalties (illegal formation, illegal block above the waist), 15 yards
ST Niko Koutouvides: two penalties (defensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 14 yards
LB Jerod Mayo: two penalties (defensive pass interference) 8 yards
S Steve Gregory: one penalty (personal foul), 15 yards
S Tavon Wilson: one penalty (offensive holding–punt return team), 10 yards
CB Ras-I Dowling: one penalty (defensive pass interference) 9 yards
LB Brandon Spikes: one penalty (defensive holding), 5 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: one penalty (defensive holding), 5 yards
DE Chandler Jones: one penalty (defensive offsides) 5 yards
LS Danny Aiken: one penalty (false start) 5 yards
OL Donald Thomas: one penalty (false start) 5 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: one penalty (encroachment), 5 yards

Most penalized by position:
Cornerback: Four penalties for 46 yards
Specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper, kick/punt units): Four penalties for 29 yards
Tight end: Three penalties for 20 yards
Linebacker: Three penalties for 13 yards
Team: Two penalties for 15 yards
Wide receiver: Two penalties for 15 yards
Defensive line: Two penalties for 10 yards
Safety: One penalty for 15 yards
Offensive line: One penalty for five yards

Most frequently called penalties on the Patriots:
False start: Four
Defensive pass interference: Four
Defensive holding: Three
Offensive holding: Three
Illegal block above the waist: Two
Defensive offsides: Two
Illegal formation: One
Personal foul: One
Encroachment: One
Offensive pass interference: One

Notes: By way of comparison, through four games last year, the Patriots had 28 penalties for 268 yards. … The Patriots were likely happier than any team in the league to see the regular refs back, as they were called for just one penalty on Sunday against the Bills. The last time they were flagged for just one penalty was the AFC title game last season against the Ravens (1/22/12). It’s also worth noting that Sunday’s nearly penalty-free performance comes on the heels of the 10-penalty game the previous Sunday night against Baltimore. … The one penalty that was called on New England on Sunday was offensive holding on safety Tavon Wilson, who was working on the punt return team — that’s why we have it labeled as a special teams penalty and not as a penalty to the safeties. … No team in the league has seen their penalty numbers fluctuate over the last two weeks like the Patriots. In the wake of the flag-filled loss to the Ravens, New England jumped from 24th in the league in total penalties against to 15th. In addition, the Patriots went from 28th in total penalty yardage lost to 20th. After Sunday’s disciplined victory over the Bills, New England dropped back to 26th in the league in total penalties and 29th in total yardage lost. … In what is clearly a sign the Mayans were right about the impending apocalypse, the Raiders — annually one of the most penalized teams in the league — have just 19 penalties for 143 yards (both 31st in the league).

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