What's the NFL record for penalties, penalty yards in a game?


The Las Vegas Raiders’ thrilling Thanksgiving Day victory over the Dallas Cowboys in overtime featured a ton of penalties.

No, like really, there were a lot of flags thrown.

The teams committed a combined 28 accepted penalties for 276 yards over the 65-plus minutes of game action. The Raiders were penalized 14 times for 110 yards while the Cowboys were flagged 14 times for 166 yards.

Cowboys cornerback Anthony Brown was responsible for more than half of his team’s penalty yards. The sixth-year pro was called for defensive pass interference four times for a total of 91 yards, with all penalties coming on third downs during Raiders scoring drives.

Brown’s fourth and final DPI proved to be the game’s most costly one. With Las Vegas facing a third-and-18 in OT, the corner got tangled up with wideout Zay Jones for a 33-yard penalty.

Rather than being forced to punt, the Raiders got a fresh set of downs just outside the red zone, setting up Daniel Carlson’s game-winning 29-yard field goal.

The Raiders-Cowboys matchup featured the most penalties and penalty yards in a game this season, but it didn’t break the all-time record in either category.

What’s the NFL record for most combined penalties in one game?

The all-time record for most combined penalties in a game has stood for 70 years. In 1951, the Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns were penalized a staggering 37 times for 374 yards (h/t Dan Daly). The Browns accounted for the majority of the penalties (21) and penalty yards (209), but still came away with a lopsided 42-21 victory.

In 1976, the 0-5 Seattle Seahawks and 0-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers put up the second-most combined penalties with 35 for 310 yards. The Bucs committed 20 penalties and lost 13-10 after having their potential game-tying field goal blocked (a play they committed a penalty on, of course).

The 28 penalties between the Raiders and Cowboys on Thanksgiving were the most since the then-Oakland Raiders and Buccaneers had 29 in a 2016 game (h/t Rick Gosselin).

What’s the NFL record for most combined penalty yards in one game? 

The 1951 Bears-Browns game is also the record holder for most combined penalty yards in a game with 374.

The 1976 Seahawks-Bucs game is tied for second-most with a 2009 Monday Night Football matchup between the Baltimore Ravens and Green Bay Packers. Green Bay (11 penalties for 175 yards) and Baltimore (12 penalties for 135 yards) put up 310 combined penalty yards. But Aaron Rodgers and the Packers still finished the night with 350 yards of total offense in a 27-14 victory.

The 276 penalty yards in the Raiders-Cowboys game rank 14th all time and are the most since the Buffalo Bills and Bears combined for 292 yards in 2018 (h/t Ben Volin).

What’s the NFL record for most penalties by a team in one game?

The Raiders actually own the record for most penalties by a team in a single game, but they didn’t set it on Thursday. In 2016, the Raiders committed 23 penalties for 200 yards against the Buccaneers. The Raiders somehow managed to beat the Bucs (who only had six penalties for 64 yards), winning 30-24 on a Seth Roberts 41-yard TD pass from Derek Carr in OT.

The 1998 San Francisco 49ers, the 1944 Brooklyn Tigers and the 1944 Bears are tied for the second-most penalties in a game with 22.

What’s the NFL record for most penalty yards by a team in one game?

Despite committing just 15 penalties against the Ravens in 2005, the Tennessee Titans racked up an NFL-record 212 penalty yards. Tennessee was able to overcome the infamous record and grind out a 14-11 win.

The aforementioned 1951 Browns (21 penalties for 209 yards) and 2016 Raiders (23 penalties for 200 yards) are the only other teams to tally at least 200 penalty yards in a game, according to StatMuse data dating back to 1950.

Contact Us