The NFL was serious when it said officials would throw more flags for illegal contact and pass interference this season.
Statistics released by the league on Friday reveal that through the first five weeks of the season, there have been nearly four times as many illegal contact penalties as there were through the first five weeks of 2013. And there have been more than twice as many defensive holding penalties. Illegal contact has increased from 15 calls in Weeks 1-5 last year to 59 calls this year. Defensive holding has increased from 52 in Weeks 1-5 last year to 115 this year.
Overall there have been a total of 163 more penalties called this year than at the same point last year. In addition to the increase in illegal contact and defensive holding, NFL officials have thrown 14 more offensive pass interference flags, 48 more illegal use of hands flags and seven more flags for taunting or unsportsmanlike conduct.
Many fans think the officials have gone too far and that games are getting slowed down by constant calls from the officials, but the league says that in reality, games are moving along more quickly this year: The average time of a game has gone down from 3:09:44 last year to 3:05:41 this year.