The NFL’s enhanced focus on taunting penalties has been a topic of conversation throughout the 2021 season and it ensnared an unlikely player during Week 17.
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan was flagged for taunting Bills safety Jordan Poyer after an apparent touchdown run in Sunday’s 29-15 Bills win and that came as a surprise since Ryan has not been known as an overly demonstrative player over the course of his career. After the game, Poyer said, via Ben Tsujimoto of the Buffalo News, that he “didn’t honestly know what the penalty was” and that he’d keep anything Ryan said between them.
Ryan said he didn’t think anything said rose to the level of taunting.
“Then, you know, football is an emotional game,” Ryan said. “So, there are lots of things that are said out there. I’m disappointed in myself in that the timing costs us. But I didn’t think it was anything that bad.”
Replays showed Ryan was down before crossing into the end zone, so the 15-yard penalty did more than cost them yards on an extra point try or the ensuing kickoff. The Falcons were unable to get back into the end zone after moving backward and the Bills maintained their 29-15 lead through the final whistle.