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Bills penalties tough for Chan Gailey to digest

By Tim Graham

Chan Gailey already had commented on what he thought were five false starts his Buffalo Bills committed in Thursday night's 7-6 preseason loss to the Washington Redskins.

Gailey looked like he'd need a bowl of Rolaids swimming in Milk of Magnesia for breakfast this morning.

"It looked ugly. It felt ugly. It was ugly," Gailey said.

Then I informed him the Bills actually had eight false starts.

"Is that how many it was?" Gailey said, a pained look on his face.

"Gol-ly," he sighed, emphasizing each syllable.

"It's awful."

The Bills managed three false starts in a four-play span in the second quarter.

Gailey fell on his sword. He didn't call out young players. He didn't blame the replacement refs. He certainly couldn't use crowd noise as an excuse, with only 51,521 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

"That penalty is my fault," Gailey said. "I've got to get them disciplined. That's just lack of discipline. That's my responsibility, the discipline on this football team."

The Bills had an astounding 14 penalties for 134 yards. Three more fouls were declined. An illegal formation wiped out a Stevie Johnson touchdown reception in the first quarter.

Thursday night's accepted penalties were equal to 16 percent of the Bills' penalties and 18 percent of their penalty yardage for all of last season.

A source of pride for Gailey last year, only four teams were flagged fewer times than the Bills. They averaged 5.4 penalties for 46.4 yards per game.

Thursday night was a yellow debacle. In addition to the Bills' eight false starts, they were called for holding six times (four accepted), facemask once, illegal formation once and offside once (declined).

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About Press Coverage

Tim Graham

Tim Graham

Tim Graham returned to The Buffalo News in 2011 after covering the NFL for three years at ESPN and for one year at the Palm Beach Post. Before that, the Cleveland native spent seven seasons on the Buffalo Sabres beat for The News and was president of the Boxing Writers Association of America.

@ByTimGraham |

Mark Gaughan

Mark Gaughan

Buffalo native Mark Gaughan started working at The News in 1980 and has been covering the Bills exclusively since 1992. He is a former president of the Pro Football Writers of America, and he is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee.

@gggaughan |

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski

Jay Skurski joined The News in January 2009. The Lewiston native attended St. Francis High School before graduating from the University of South Florida. He writes a weekly Fantasy column in addition to his beat writing duties.

@JaySkurski |