FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Entering their Week 10 matchup against the New England Patriots, the Buffalo Bills had been called for just 40 penalties in eight games in 2012, the third-lowest total in the NFL.
On Sunday, they were flagged a whopping 14 times for 148 yards against the Patriots.
Though some of those calls were obvious, such as offsides and false starts, there were also some judgments that appeared could have gone either way.
Among the calls that will be most in question was a pass interference call on Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore that occurred in the end zone.
The call was on a second-quarter deep pass intended for Patriots receiver Brandon Lloyd, and gave the Patriots the ball on the Bills' one-yard line (a 37-yard penalty). The throw to Lloyd landed several feet out of bounds, and did not appear to be catchable. The Patriots eventually scored a touchdown to expand their lead.
"That's a terrible call," Gilmore said. "I think Lloyd came up to me and he said he tripped over my feet. But I didn't even touch him. I didn't know what the call was."
The rookie cornerback felt that his technique on the play was sound.
"I was playing great defense. I was running with him, I wasn't even touching him," he continued. "I don't know what happened, because when he threw the ball, I speed-turned and I'm looking at the ball and he's throwing a flag behind me. I don't know what the reason for the flag was."
Earlier in the game, Gilmore was called for another pass interference penalty in the end zone. In total, the Bills were flagged for defensive pass interference four times, including three times in the end zone. Buffalo entered the game tied for the fewest pass interference penalties in the league, with just one in their first eight games.
Gilmore was asked if he felt like the flags were loose overall during the game.
“Very loose,” he said. “Those two plays, (Bills cornerback) Leodis (McKelvin) had a flag, it was like 50 yards right there. The penalties killed -- I think we played OK, but I think we gave them more than what they earned. It’s a bad feeling.”
Between the 14 penalties called and three turnovers committed, the Bills did themselves no favor in a tight game against a division rival. They outgained the Patriots 481 to 347 yards in total offense, and controlled the clock with an edge in time of possession, 33:50 to 26:10.
"You can sit here and talk about them, should they have been called, shouldn't they have been called," Bills coach Chan Gailey said after the game. "You've got to look at the film and decide. You always have questions about them."
Like Gailey, quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick reserved judgment on the calls until he's had a chance to review them on film.
"That's not for me to judge," he said. "I didn't see -- I know we jumped offsides a few times, and that's something we can't do. I don't know about the other ones. We'll look at the film and look at them, (but) you've got to be able to try to overcome those."
And while the Patriots made their own share of mistakes, including seven penalties for 73 yards, the Bills' self-inflicted wounds are likely to linger as they prepare to turn the page to their Week 11 game, just four days away against Miami.