Cowboys have had 23% more penalties than average team, ranking third overall in NFL since 2009, study says

SAN ANTONIO – “That was a horrible call!”

“It’s the ref’s fault we lost!”

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Both are common refrains after a football team loses a game during the NFL season, but how often does a team truly get called for a penalty?

A new study recently released has shown the National Football League’s Dallas Cowboys have been called for 23% more penalties than the average NFL team since 2009, according to the sports betting website, JustGamblers.

The website used NFL season data from 2009 to the present compiled by NFLPenalties and then grouped them by year and team.

Teams were ranked by the total number of penalties received, and the Cowboys ranked third overall during the selected time frame. The Seattle Seahawks ranked first, according to the study.

“Analyzing penalty data for NFL teams since 2009 uncovers intriguing trends, particularly in the case of the Seattle Seahawks, who have experienced a notable deviation in penalties compared to the lowest-ranked teams. This raises questions about team-specific behaviors or external factors that may contribute to these variations,” a spokesperson for JustGamblers said on the findings.

The Cowboys were calculated as having a total of 986 accepted penalties, consistently ranking high, with the 2012, 2014, and 2022 seasons receiving 77, 82, and 95 total penalties respectively.

The 2014 season marked their highest penalty count and the Cowboys had penalties 23.94% more than the average NFL team during that period, the website said.

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson (87) catches a pass and is tackled by Jacksonville Jaguars linebacker Chad Muma (48) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez) (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The Cowboys are coming off an NFC East championship and this offseason signed veteran linebacker Eric Kendricks to bring experience to a young defensive unit. They also brought a familiar name in Mike Zimmer as the new defensive coordinator to replace the departed Dan Quinn and signed running back Ezekiel Elliott for a reunion and drafted Tyler Guyton out of the University of Oklahoma in the first round, to help bolster their offensive line.

As “America’s Team” looks to take the next step, reducing penalties is one key area where it appears the team may be able to control. But, according to the study, penalties are not the end-all-be-all when it comes to losing or winning games in the NFL.

“Despite facing a higher number of penalties, the Seahawks’ performance showcases that penalties alone do not dictate success. It is interesting to note that teams with significant penalty counts have still achieved notable victories, emphasizing that success in the NFL is influenced by a myriad of factors beyond penalties,” a spokesperson for the study said.

League-wide, the study said the average number of penalties for a team to have received since 2009 was 795 – or 51.65 per season. By comparison, the Houston Texans were ninth on the list, receiving 858 penalties since 2009. Noteworthy seasons include 2013 and 2023, where they received 68 and 87 penalties, respectively.

The Cowboys 2024 season opener is set for Sunday, Sept. 8 at 3:25 p.m. as America’s Game of the Week versus the Cleveland Browns. Their schedule features six nationally broadcast primetime games, three of which will be played at AT&T Stadium and features a total of nine games against eight teams that earned a spot in the 2023 playoffs.

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