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Tim Graham: So many Bills story lines, but penalties keep getting in the way

Tim Graham

"Slow your roll," some readers said.

"Way too early," others claimed.

"Give 'em time, for cryin' outs," I heard.

My takeaway from the Buffalo Bills' preseason opener last week was their disconcerting penalty total. They committed 13 penalties. The Minnesota Vikings accepted 10 of them for 106 yards.

All those flags irked Bills coach Sean McDermott, but many fans seemed willing to give them a pass.

So I went into Thursday night's game against the Philadelphia Eagles intent on finding an angle to write about aside from penalties even though the referee was the magnificent Ed Hochuli.

How about veteran receiver Anquan Boldin's debut? He dressed for the first time since signing as a free agent and ...

Before Boldin can take the field, cornerback Leonard Johnson gets flagged for holding on a Bills punt return 97 seconds into the game.

Back to the action. Oh, dear. Tyrod Taylor, against a corner blitz, throws a pass that's tipped skyward and falls into linebacker Mychal Kendricks' mitts at Buffalo's 9-yard line. Philly kicks a field goal, and Taylor goes three-and-out the next possession.

What if Taylor struggles and rookie Nathan Peterman plays well? Maybe I could write about ...

Well, I'll be. The Bills flagged for two penalties on the same play again. They pulled off the feat twice last week. Two illegal blocks above the waist on a punt return. One from running back Jonathan Williams and a second from linebacker Tanner Vallejo.

One of these days we might see the Pegulas open a new theme park: Six Flags Over the Opening Kickoff.

With 6:46 left in the first quarter, Taylor's passer rating breaks 0.0 with a pass to Charles Clay. The heretofore disappointing tight end might be worth ...

Whoops, that's holding on tackle Seantrel Henderson. But it's declined.

And now defensive lineman Adolphus Washington jumps into the neutral zone on a third-and-2 play to give the Eagles a first down. One snap later, linebacker Preston Brown is called for holding and another Eagles first down.

On the next play, Bills linebacker Lorenzo Alexander forces a fumble, and Washington recovers it. Washington sure has been a compelling subject, and Alexander is having a terrific game. Perhaps ...

Holy smokes, Taylor throws a terrible interception to Ronald Darby, the cornerback the Bills traded last week. The Bills get caught holding, which obviously is declined with 2:13 left in the first quarter.

Tim Graham: Bills fans should hope all those penalties aren't a red flag

Yet the quarter can't end without another flag. Buffalo fullback Patrick DiMarco, holding, the eighth penalty, fifth accepted, for 35 yards.

But I'm not going to write about penalties.

Hey, there's Boldin with his first Bills reception 1:28 into the second quarter. That's a ...

Boldin kills the next play with an illegal motion penalty.

The Bills' first-team defense did OK against the Eagles' starters, especially given the turnovers and penalties. Taylor's six drives ended with interception, punt, punt, interception, field goal, punt. Three of them gained nary a yard ...

Buffalo's special teams get zapped again. It's cornerback Jumal Rolle with another illegal block above the waist on a punt return.

Deep into the second quarter, the Eagles have only six points, which is ...

Oy, and there's a personal foul on defensive end Eddie Yarbrough. Leverage is the call on a 30-yard field-goal. But instead of three points, the Eagles' extended drive ends with a 6-yard Corey Clement touchdown run.

Five seconds later, Henderson collects his second holding penalty.

Let's go ahead and spare ourselves the monotony and fast forward through the second half, which wasn't much sharper.

The Bills finished with 21 penalties, 15 of them accepted for 131 yards and four first downs.

Their two-game total is 34 penalties, 25 accepted for 237 yards and six first downs.

Buffalo's special teams committed five penalties for the second straight game.

Tight end Logan Thomas committed two penalties within three plays, a false start and pass interference.

Rookie cornerback Greg Mabin committed two in a four-play span, defensive holding and pass interference in the end zone to set up the winning touchdown with three minutes to play.

But penalties weren't the story this week.

Nope. Instead, I think I'm going to write about Cordy Glenn's foot.

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