The Seattle Seahawks set themselves up for a Week 17 shot at the playoffs with their win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and during the game Michael Bennett gave himself a shot at leading the league in penalties.
With three penalties against the Cowboys – two offsides penalties and a neutral zone infraction – Bennett moved into a tie with Garett Bolles for the second most penalty flags drawn this season with 15. The penalty parade on Sunday for Bennett gives him eight flags drawn in the last five games, with his last penalty-free game coming in the loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11.
Meanwhile, Germain Ifedi managed to play a penalty-free game against the Cowboys, leaving his league leading flag count at 19. It would be a difficult task for Bennett to make up those four penalties in the New Year’s Eve game against the Arizona Cardinals, however it is entirely possible.
What is likely to be a closer race to watch will be Bennett and Bolles. If Bennett draws one more flag than Bolles in their respective Week 17 matchups, Bennett and Ifedi have the potential to end the 2017 season as the number one and two most penalized players in the NFL. The pair currently stands at 34 combined penalty flags drawn, which is far beyond that of any other set of teammates in the NFL, with the next closest being Bolles and Von Miller in Denver, with 28 combined flags drawn.
Never one to turn down the opportunity for finding a conspiracy, of the seven NFL players that have drawn the most penalty flags this season, three of them are products of Texas A&M university, including Bennett and Ifedi.
Now, it is probably far more probable that the reason these three players are among the most penalized is that they train together during the offseason, or at least communicate about anticipating the snap count or something along those line. But I’m not going to let reason or logic get in the way of creating a conspiracy. So, in any case, these three players have combined for 47 penalties this season, of which nearly two thirds – 31 – are procedure penalties. This includes eight false starts, 19 offsides, three neutral zone infractions and one encroachment penalty.
Where the conspiracy really comes in is when looking at the head of officiating for the NFL, Alberto Riveron. An immigrant from Cuba who was born and raised in South Florida, he has no readily apparent ties to Texas A&M, until one digs extremely, extremely deep. He and his wife have a son named – get this – Austin. Austin, of course, is not only the capitol of Texas, it is the home to the University of Texas, which has historically been one of the bigger rivals for Texas A&M. And so there it is. Or maybe it isn’t.
In any case, it will be something to watch in Week 17 to see if the Seahawks can end up with the top two most penalty prone players in the league.