Penalty watch: 2012 in review

January, 3, 2013
1/03/13
5:00
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In 2011, the Patriots were the fifth-least penalized team in the NFL with just 80 regular-season flags. That number jumped to 98 in 2012, an average of 6.13 per game.

That total was good for ninth-least in the NFL, a respectable figure and a sign of a disciplined group. In looking at the regular season totals, 39 of the flags thrown on the Patriots (including declined penalties) were pre-snap penalties (false starts, illegal formations, etc.) -- also a respectable total. Those are the kinds of penalties that coaches aim to avoid most specifically, as they can be tightened up with sound discipline and technique.

Another detail that sticks out from this list is that center Ryan Wendell, who played the most snaps in the NFL this season, logged just two penalties. That's yet another suggestion that his season has been stellar.

The full breakdown of the season (includes declined penalties):

Penalty count
[+] EnlargeRyan Wendell
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY SportsRyan Wendell played the most snaps in the NFL this season but committed only two penalties.
Brandon Spikes -- 8
Vince Wilfork -- 7
Kyle Arrington -- 5
Alfonzo Dennard -- 5
Aaron Hernandez -- 5
Jerod Mayo -- 5
Nate Solder -- 5
Sebastian Vollmer -- 5
Patrick Chung -- 4
Rob Gronkowski -- 4
Logan Mankins -- 4
Devin McCourty -- 4
Tom Brady -- 3
Ras-I Dowling -- 3
Daniel Fells -- 3
Dont'a Hightower -- 3
Chandler Jones -- 3
Stevan Ridley -- 3
Aqib Talib -- 3
Donald Thomas -- 3
Marquice Cole -- 2
Jermaine Cunningham -- 2
Nate Ebner-- 2
Julian Edelman -- 2
Niko Koutouvides -- 2
Sterling Moore -- 2
Ryan Wendell-- 2
Danny Aiken -- 1
Jake Bequette -- 1
Dan Connolly -- 1
James Develin -- 1
Justin Francis -- 1
Steve Gregory -- 1
Derrick Martin -- 1
Rob Ninkovich -- 1
Mike Rivera -- 1
Trevor Scott -- 1
Matthew Slater -- 1
Tavon Wilson -- 1
TEAM -- 5

Most called penalties
Defensive holding -- 13
Offensive holding -- 13
Defensive pass interference -- 12
False start -- 12
Encroachment -- 9
Unnecessary roughness -- 6
Offensive pass interference -- 5
Offside -- 5
Special teams holding -- 5
Illegal contact -- 4
Roughing the passer -- 4
Intentional grounding -- 3
Special teams illegal block above waist -- 3
Face Mask -- 2
Illegal motion -- 2
Illegal shift -- 2
Illegal use of hands -- 2
Low block -- 2
Special teams false start -- 2
12-men-on-the-field -- 2
Chop block -- 1
Illegal formation -- 1
Neutral zone infraction -- 1
Offside (special teams) -- 1
Personal foul -- 1
Special teams illegal formation -- 1
Special teams offside -- 1

Drawn holding penalties
Jermaine Cunningham -- 4
Wes Welker -- 4
Chandler Jones -- 3
Brandon Lloyd -- 3
Vince Wilfork -- 3
Kyle Love -- 2
Kyle Arrington (1 on special teams/KO coverage)-- 2
Justin Francis -- 2
Devin McCourty (1 defense, 1 special teams) -- 2
Trevor Scott (1 defense/1 special teams) -- 2
Rob Gronkowski -- 1
Rob Ninkovich -- 1
Mike Rivera - 1
Matthew Slater -- 1
Brandon Spikes -- 1
Malcolm Williams -- 1 (special teams/KO coverage)
(two drawn holdings on special teams vs. Rams unclear)
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.

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