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  • With the increased emphasis on penalties this season comes increased discussion on broadcasts. So just how often were penalties discussed during Monday’s Saints-Redskins game? We turned to our stopwatch to find out.
By Conor Orr
October 09, 2018

For those of you tuning in for coverage of Drew Brees becoming the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader, we have a special treat: Staff writer Ben Baskin breaks it all down for you over here. And the Saints throttled the Redskins, winning 43-19 in New Orleans.

Here at the Morning Huddle, we decided to use Monday Night Football for a little bit of an experiment; the start of something we’re going to keep an eye on for the next couple of weeks.

As we’ve mentioned a few times in this space, a renewed emphasis on certain penalties and altered focus on others has thrown the league into a tizzy. Games have been dramatically altered by flags this year. Announcers have spent a ton of time talking about it, occasionally saying stupid things in the process. Fans have complained not only about the muddled confusion as to what certain penalties are and when they’ll be called, but how much of the actual viewing experience is gobbled up by rulebook minutiae.

So we started the stopwatch at 8:16:04 Eastern time on Monday and decided to see how much time the broadcast spent talking about penalties last night.

The result was fortuitous for the NFL. Most of the attention was obviously on Brees. Washington was also throttled, which made a typically flag-happy fourth quarter fairly quiet. There were 10 total penalties called (six on Washington), which, given the penalty per game average of each team, is below average. Also, two of the 10 penalties—an unsportsmanlike conduct that occurred in the end zone during Brees’s record-breaking touchdown and a taunting penalty on a third quarter kickoff—were taking place during Brees monologues by Jason Witten and play-by-play man Joe Tessitore and were brushed over.

The final tally by my count? Six minutes and 36 seconds of air time. That also includes a bumbling cameo from former referee Jeff Triplette, who said that a catch turned fumble would be overturned and ruled incomplete (it wasn’t). While this was not technically a penalty, it was included in the overall penalty time given fan frustration with the whole What is a catch saga.

For reference, Brees’s record-breaking moment from snap to start of the two-point conversion attempt took three minutes and 14 seconds.

While the NFL is an undisputed ratings goldmine this season regardless of the actual content, it’s probably nice to sneak in a crisp, three-hour broadcast without digging into the intent behind a surging pass-rusher. Something tells us NBC, Fox and CBS won’t be that lucky every time.

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Now on The MMQB: The Monday Afternoon QB, on what Jets coaches are seeing in Sam Darnold after a resurgent performance…. A wonderful Tim Layden essay on Drew Brees, now the NFL’s all-time passing yards leader…. Why the Chiefs will be hard to stop all season long.

What you may have missed: The anatomy of a 200-yard rushing game, or how the Jets gashed the Broncos on Sunday with just 15 carries. … How do the Bills keep pulling off these upsets? The Texans must protect Deshaun Watson from himself.


1. What did Eli Manning think of Odell Beckham’s apology to the team on Saturday night?

2. Even when he tries to take the blame for things, Jon Gruden seems to expertly stick in pot shots at the Raiders’ personnel department.

3. The Giants ended a long and acrimonious relationship with maligned former first-round pick Ereck Flowers.

4. The Eagles are now without Jay Ajayi for the rest of the season. Let the Le’Veon Bell rumors ramp up.

5. Will Packers head coach Mike McCarthy stick to his rigid RB timeshare given the vastly different results?

6. Leighton Vander Esch is balling out in Dallas.

7. What the hell happened to the Texans in the red zone last week against Dallas?


Sometimes you need to take a break from football and watch a man eat a raw, $89 Japanese egg over rice.

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