After Buffalo’s Week 2 loss to the Patriots, a game in which the Bills were called for 18 penalties (with 14 accepted for 140 yards), Rex Ryan spoke about the team’s need to get more disciplined. “We want to be the least penalized team in the league,” Ryan said. “That’s kind of a goal we’re shooting for moving forward.” How’s that working out?

Not great! In their 24-10 loss to the Giants yesterday, Buffalo racked up another 18 flags, with 17 of them accepted for 135 yards. The Bills have now drawn a league-leading 58 penalties, the most through four games since the stat was first kept in 2005.

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Forty-seven of those penalties have been accepted for 428 yards, or, to put it another way, the Bills have now handed their opponents 139 more penalty yards than they’ve received. That’s a significant handicap, and one that’s been racked up with the dumbest sort of penalties:

You would expect Rex Ryan to be mad about this. (After all, Giants coach Tom Coughlin told his players before the game that the Bills would beat themselves with penalties.) But Ryan is spinning the rain of flags as a positive, declaring it’s a sign of his team’s “fight.”

“Well, I’m going to tell you something: I’m proud of the way this team played,” an animated Ryan said after the game. “Can you play a lot smarter? Absolutely. But I’ll take a team that can fight over a team that won’t — that will sit back and take it — any day of the week. And bring on the next team.

“So that’s how I look at it. Give me a team that’s got some fight, and we’ll compete to the very end, right, wrong or indifferent. No matter how good the officiating is, or whatever.”

That last line hints at a notion echoed by some Bills players, that they were the victims of some one-sided officiating. DT Kyle Williams said these Bills are gaining a reputation as a dirty team, and that the officials are watching them extra-closely because of it. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, and one that’s not going to be easy to buck as long as the head coach is praising guys for living up to it.

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