Clutch Encounters
A look at Sunday's fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drive opportunities

Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Clutch Encounters: Wild Card
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

by Scott Kacsmar

It wasn't exactly a wild weekend of playoff action, but three of the finishes were close thanks to a lack of scoring. No one surpassed 24 points this weekend, and Chicago's Mitchell Trubisky was the only 300-yard passer. Even turnovers weren't too decisive in these four games as two teams (Seahawks and Bears) lost despite not having any. Only Lamar Jackson and the Ravens (three giveaways) coughed it up more than twice.

The only game we're not covering is Colts-Texans since Indianapolis led 21-0 before halftime and held on for a comfortable 21-7 win. It's the first time since high school that Deshaun Watson started and finished a game and lost by multiple scores. That was the start of a disappointing slate for the playoff debuts of Watson, Jackson, and Trubisky. It helped to have experience at quarterback, though kickers were also a sore spot for the weekend's losing teams.

Game of the Week

Philadelphia Eagles 16 at Chicago Bears 15

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 5 (15-10)
Game-Winning Chance Before: 28.4 percent
Game-Winning Chance After: 90.2 percent
Win Probability Added: 61.8 percent
Head Coach: Doug Pederson (9-13 at 4QC and 10-14 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Nick Foles (10-12 at 4QC and 12-12 overall 4QC/GWD record)

For the 11th time in the Super Bowl era, a kicker missed a do-or-die field goal in the final minute of a playoff game. Cody Parkey, once a Pro Bowl kicker for the Eagles, joins a memorable list of kickers who did not come through when they were needed the most. He joins Blair Walsh (2015 Vikings) and Billy Cundiff (2011 Ravens) as the kickers to do this in a decade where social media reaction is so swift and harsh. It will be a tough kick for Parkey to overcome after a season of struggles.

NFL Playoffs: Do-or-Die Field Goals Missed in Super Bowl Era
Kicker Date Team Opp Round Score Time Length Result
Mike Michel 12/24/1978 PHI at ATL NFC-WC Down 14-13 0:13 34 Wide right
Eddie Murray 12/31/1983 DET at SF NFC-DIV Down 24-23 0:11 43 Wide right
Nick Lowery 1/5/1991 KC at MIA AFC-WC Down 17-16 0:56 52 Short
Scott Norwood 1/27/1991 BUF NYG SB Down 20-19 0:08 47 Wide right
Pete Stoyanovich 1/8/1995 MIA at SD AFC-DIV Down 22-21 0:06 48 Wide right
Lin Elliott 1/7/1996 KC IND AFC-DIV Down 10-7 0:42 42 Wide left
Mike Vanderjagt 1/15/2006 IND PIT AFC-DIV Down 21-18 0:21 46 Wide right
Nate Kaeding 1/14/2007 SD NE AFC-DIV Down 24-21 0:08 54 Short
Billy Cundiff 1/22/2012 BAL at NE AFC-CG Down 23-20 0:15 32 Wide left
Blair Walsh 1/10/2016 MIN SEA NFC-WC Down 10-9 0:26 27 Wide left
Cody Parkey 1/6/2019 CHI PHI NFC-WC Down 16-15 0:10 43 Left UR

While the field goal would have won the game for the Bears, there were of course other plays that led to this outcome. In fact, playing Philadelphia at all was something Chicago had some control over. Not to be accused of hindsight, but I said before Week 17 that Chicago should have blown off the season finale against Minnesota to get the Vikings instead of the Eagles in this matchup. Minnesota has some turmoil going on and their offense struggles with this Bears defense. Letting the defending champions back in the tournament with reigning Super Bowl MVP quarterback Nick Foles was a gamble that did not pay off for Matt Nagy and company.

After last season's run, Foles was four attempts shy of qualifying for the highest passing DVOA in the playoffs (56.6%) since 1986. He'll be featured more prominently in our next update of the playoff stats, but Foles added to his hard-to-believe resume with another playoff game-winning drive. Foles is the fourth active quarterback to have at least a .500 record (12-12) at game-winning drive opportunities. Consider the playoff DVOA, the two championship games last year, the franchise-record 471 passing yards in Week 16, and the 25 consecutive completions (tied the single-game record) in Week 17, and Foles is making history in a Doug Pederson offense in which he only has 12 relevant appearances. Foles has also been the quarterback the last three times the Eagles have won a game after trailing by at least four points in the final five minutes, but this was the first time it happened since 2014 against the Colts.

Both quarterbacks were fairly impressive on a day where the running games never found any traction. After Mitchell Trubisky threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Allen Robinson to give the Bears a 15-10 lead, the two-point conversion was going to be a big one. Nagy gave it a lot of window dressing with pre-snap shifts and motion, but in the end it was a jet-sweep flip to Taylor Gabriel that was short of the end zone. The Bears also got the ball back with 7:02 left and went three-and-out, setting the stage for Foles again.

There weren't many YAC opportunities for the Eagles, but the receivers made some good plays on the following 60-yard march. The longest play of the drive was actually the first, a 15-yard completion to former Chicago receiver Alshon Jeffery. He also made perhaps the most critical play of the drive (besides the score itself) after gaining 11 yards on third-and-9 to set up first-and-goal at the 2. That was another nice play design with Jeffery coming out of the backfield and the Bears not matching up quickly enough with him before he got the first down. The drive had three failed runs, but they at least helped burn some clock since the Eagles didn't want to score too quickly.

A year ago, the Eagles had to hold off the Falcons in the red zone, winning 15-10 to start their playoff run. Atlanta ran an ill-fated sprint right option on fourth down. Now the Eagles were in the same position on Sunday, but on offense. Facing a critical fourth-and-2, Foles also got the call for a sprint right option, but the receiver was there and the throw to Golden Tate was perfect for a go-ahead touchdown with 56 seconds left.

Much like the Bears earlier in the quarter, the Eagles failed on a big two-point conversion after Wendell Smallwood came up short on a run.

Philadelphia's 16-15 lead only began to look flimsy after Tarik Cohen returned the ensuing kickoff 35 yards to the Chicago 42 with 48 seconds left. Trubisky only needed two plays before finding Robinson for another big gain of 25 yards to hit the outer edges of field goal range. After an 8-yard completion to Robinson, I didn't like that Trubisky looked to be in the dark on what the strategy was for second-and-2. That should have been planned better, but the spike came late, with 15 seconds left. From there a deep ball was one of the few good options, but that pass was overthrown to bring up fourth down. This is where you wish a quick draw to Cohen on that second-and-2 followed by a spike would have been the strategy instead of relying on a shaky kicker from over 40 yards away in sub-40-degree Chicago weather.

Parkey had already missed a game-winning field goal in the team's overtime loss in Miami this season. He has also had a handful of kicks hit the upright at home this season. Pederson iced the kicker with his final timeout and Parkey made the warm-up kick. In one of the more memorable cases of icing the kicker actually working, Parkey hit the left upright and the crossbar on the real attempt, ending Chicago's season after the ball didn't bounce the right way. That was Parkey's eighth missed field goal of 2018. (For those keeping score, kicker Robbie Gould has hit 82 of his 85 field goals since the Bears let him go in 2016.)

In Parkey's defense on this one, there is some evidence of a partial block from the Eagles.

The Eagles, once left for dead at 6-7, will continue their improbable run in New Orleans next week. If Foles can help them pull that one out in the Superdome, that might be his greatest achievement yet on a resume that keeps filling up with impressive feats. As for the Bears, a new kicker is likely in order, but at least Trubisky played respectably in his playoff debut. The Bears (12-5) lost five games by a combined 15 points in Nagy's first year. It's just disappointing that this was the first time all season Chicago lost after allowing fewer than 24 points.

Clutch Encounters of the Winning Kind

Seattle Seahawks 22 at Dallas Cowboys 24

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 4 (14-10)
Game-Winning Chance Before: 31.3 percent
Game-Winning Chance After: 57.0 percent
Win Probability Added: 25.7 percent
Head Coach: Jason Garrett (28-39 at 4QC and 39-41 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Dak Prescott (9-9 at 4QC and 15-9 overall 4QC/GWD record)

The first one-and-done postseason for Pete Carroll in Seattle was a sobering experience. On a weekend where the teams with the more experienced quarterback went 3-1, the Seahawks lost after apparently forgetting just how good Russell Wilson is. A lot of the blame should go to offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer for what could best be described as coaching malpractice. Wilson averaged 8.1 yards per pass while the running backs averaged 2.8 yards per carry. Perhaps growing up a Schottenheimer has made Brian fear the month of January as a time where everything that could go wrong will go wrong, but one doesn't need to be close to the game of football for decades to know that your best player should touch the ball on first and second down too.

It would be misleading to suggest this was an approach that was stark in contrast to how Seattle conducted its offense for much of 2018. The Seahawks finished 32nd in passes and second in rushing attempts as Wilson only passed for 215.5 yards per game, his lowest rate since 2013. The offense had a league-low 11 turnovers (zero in this game too) and Seattle was actually the 27th team to score at least 17 points in all 16 games of a regular season. For the most part, Schottenheimer's offense worked, with high rankings in DVOA for the run and the pass and a No. 7 ranking in points per drive. However, the third-highest rate of three-and-out drives was an issue, and that was evident in the first quarter, when the Seahawks went three-and-out three times. Wilson's first quarter success rate was 0-for-4. That includes a screen pass that blew up one drive with an 8-yard loss and three failed plays on third down. Meanwhile, Dallas let Dak Prescott throw four times on first or second down on the game's opening drive alone.

The reason this failed so spectacularly for Seattle was that Schottenheimer showed no real acknowledgement of the opponent or any adjustments as the game wore on. Dallas was fifth against the run, but 16th in DVOA against the pass this season. Seattle's running backs finished with 21 carries for 59 yards, and that includes a 28-yard run by Rashaad Penny. That means the other 20 carries gained just 31 yards. Seattle didn't even get anything out of that 28-yard run since Penny lost 7 yards on the next snap, setting up one of the most absurd third-and-17 plays you'll ever see with Nick Vannett catching a flat pass with no blockers ahead of the slow tight end.

Seattle's running game hadn't been bottled up like this since the first two weeks of the season. Dallas in particular has a history of stifling the Wilson-led offense. There are eight games in Wilson's career where Seattle had fewer than 12 plays that gained at least 8 yards, and Dallas was the opposing defense for four of them. In the rare events that Wilson was allowed to throw deep on early downs in the first half, the Seahawks were able to produce two field goals. Sebastian Janikowski pulled up lame on a long field goal attempt before halftime, but the kicker's injury actually helped the Seahawks get more aggressive in the second half.

The first 40 minutes were a tough watch, but things got interesting with 4:55 left in the third quarter. The Seahawks went for a fourth-and-5 and Wilson delivered with a 22-yard gain to Doug Baldwin. Wilson finished the drive off with a 4-yard keeper run and Mike Davis scored on a two-point conversion that typically would have been an extra point if not for the Janikowski injury. Seattle led 14-10 going into the fourth quarter, so this was technically the third blown fourth-quarter lead in the playoffs in the Carroll era.

It also became the 15th game-winning drive for Prescott, tying Wilson for the most by a quarterback in his first three seasons in NFL history. The Dallas offense wasn't incredible or anything, but at least Ezekiel Elliott rushed for 137 yards and Amari Cooper had 106 receiving yards. The stars were allowed to shine. Elliott had a 44-yard run, and even if you take that away, his other 25 carries gained 93 yards so it wasn't slamming into a brick wall over and over like the Seattle running game. Cooper was left wide open on a 34-yard gain that set up Elliott for a 1-yard touchdown run to give Dallas a 17-14 lead with 12:28 left.

After Tavon Austin returned a punt 51 yards, Dallas had a chance to take a two-score lead. However, K.J. Wright got away with some pass interference in the red zone on an interception with 9:34 left for the game's only turnover.

Now was the time to unleash Wilson as the Seahawks usually do in the fourth quarter, but another alarming trend this year has been offensive penalties late in the game. The Seahawks picked up two flags in a row, including a foolish one after the whistle by D.J. Fluker that set up second-and-22. The Seahawks went three-and-out with 7:20 left. On the ensuing drive, the referees might have been eager for a make-up call from the missed interference on the pick; the Cowboys were able to convert two third downs via pass interference penalties on Seattle. At least the first one on Wright was clear.

Still, Seattle's defense just needed to stop a third-and-14 to keep this a one-score game and give Wilson a shot to win it, but Prescott made an incredible 16-yard run right up the middle of the field.

Prescott finished the drive with a 1-yard sneak to give Dallas a 24-14 lead with 2:08 left.

Tyler Lockett was left way too open on a 53-yard catch as Dallas allowed a quick touchdown drive and two-point conversion to leave some drama in a 24-22 game. It's too bad the onside kick has died this year, but Seattle had a shot at recovering one and getting a game-winning field goal. However, punter Michael Dickson tried to drop-kick the ball and it went 33 yards on a play where Cole Beasley could have called fair catch if he wanted to. It was a pointless endeavor, much like a lot of the calls the Seahawks made on the night.

The Cowboys will head to Los Angeles to face the Rams in what could feel like a home game for Dallas.

Clutch Encounters of the Losing Kind

Chargers at Ravens: Turtles in a Three-Quarter Shell

When I wrote the preview for this game, I wanted to convey the idea that the Ravens were a good bet to win, but it had to be done in a specific manner. They couldn't be their own worst enemy and have a bad start, but that's exactly what they did with two early turnovers to fall behind 12-0 at halftime. The defense was still impressive against Philip Rivers and the Chargers offense. Rivers completed 22-of-32 passes, but for only 160 yards. He did avoid turnovers and only had one sack. While the Chargers scored 23 points, none of their six scoring drives, including five field goals, gained more than 60 yards. True to form for the season when the Chargers blitzed the least and the Ravens blitzed the most, Rivers was the most blitzed quarterback of the weekend while Lamar Jackson was the least blitzed. They were also the most pressured quarterbacks of the weekend in a defensive slugfest.

Baltimore didn't do anything to open up the offense until very little time remained in the fourth quarter. Even after getting a Virgil Green fumble in the third quarter, all Baltimore could do was run three times and kick a field goal. The Chargers came prepared to stop this running attack. They held the Ravens to 36 yards on 14 carries by the running backs; none of those handoffs gained more than 5 yards. Part of this was accomplished by putting more speed on the field. According to Next Gen Stats, the Chargers used seven defensive backs on 58 of 59 snaps after doing so for 50 snaps in the entire season. No other team used seven defensive backs more than 18 times in any game. That was an impressive wrinkle. The best runs for Baltimore were Jackson scrambles, but his passing accuracy was woeful through three quarters.

With Baltimore needing to score multiple touchdowns, it wasn't unreasonable to suggest that Joe Flacco should have entered the game to run a pass-heavy offense. The Ravens stayed with Jackson, even after the Chargers took a 23-3 lead with 9:09 left, but he at least rewarded them with an impressive rally. After completing two passes for 60 yards and a touchdown, this was suddenly a game again. The Chargers went three-and-out and Jackson needed to run a hurry-up offense to score before the two-minute warning to give Baltimore a real shot at a stunning comeback. It was an unorthodox drive with Jackson, facing his biggest deficits of his brief NFL career, even doing a spike at midfield with 3:22 left. But he came through with a big play via backyard football for a 39-yard gain that made this realistic again. The Ravens just missed out on saving the two-minute warning, but Michael Crabtree broke the plane on his second touchdown of the quarter to make it 23-17 with 1:59 left.

Given how impossible the onside kick has become in the NFL, the Ravens kicked deep, which likely helped Jackson with field position too for a final drive. The Chargers were predictable with two runs while Baltimore used its final two timeouts, but it looked like a great play call on third-and-6 when Melvin Gordon broke off an 11-yard run. However, Russell Okung was called for a pretty weak holding penalty that he didn't even need to make, wiping out the first downs and making it third-and-16. Rivers threw a risky pass over the middle for 9 yards that was never going to convert, and he's fortunate it wasn't knocked out to stop the clock.

By the time Jackson got the ball back, he needed 66 yards in 45 seconds. Dire odds, but we've seen stranger things this season (hello, Miami), and the Chargers have a documented history of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. After a completion to midfield and a spike, the Chargers ended the drama in fitting fashion. Second-round rookie Uchenna Nwosu strip-sacked Jackson (his seventh sack taken in the game) and Melvin Ingram recovered to end the threat. Jackson had three fumbles on the day after leading the NFL with 12 fumbles this season despite only starting seven games. That's 15 fumbles in not even 400 plays this season, so ball security is something Jackson really needs to work on.

There is plenty of room for Jackson to grow as a passer. Some opponents may try to emulate what the Chargers did and use more defensive backs to slow this team down next year, but not every defense has players such as Derwin James and Desmond King. In the end, Baltimore just did not do enough to get easier throws to backs and tight ends and looks off play-action for Jackson to shine in this game. He at least salvaged what was one of the most impotent quarterback performances in playoff history for the first 51 minutes with a respectable finish. As for the Chargers, the offense will have to perform better than it has in recent weeks, but at least Rivers is heading to New England with a defense and his ACL still intact to keep this revenge tour going.

Season Summary

Fourth-quarter comeback wins: 71
Game-winning drives: 90 (plus three non-offensive game-winning scores)
Games with 4QC/GWD opportunity: 150/260 (57.7 percent)
10+ point comeback wins (any point in the game): 34

Historic data on fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives can be found at Pro Football Reference. Screen caps come from NFL Game Pass. Game-Winning Chance (win probability) data is from EdjSports.

Comments

78 comments, Last at 11 Jan 2019, 12:46pm

1 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Game-Winning Chance Before: 28.4 percent
Game-Winning Chance After: 90.2 percent
Win Probability Added: 61.8 percent

It is really surprising to me that the Eagles chances of winning were that high when all the Bears needed was a FG while possessing a TO. I don't doubt the numbers, I'm just surprised. I guess I've come to expect too much out of end of game offenses,

7 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

ESPN (Brian Burke) had the WP at 25% at the start of the last PHI drive peaking at 65% after PHI scored, for a WPA of 40%.

The Bears then added 30% of WP to peak at 65% right before the Cody Parkey FGA.

Given the tight score differential, these numbers feel a little more accurate than the 90% (PHI) and 80% (CHI) peaks mentioned above.

18 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I assume that means that the odds of making the field goal are just slightly higher than 80.6%, since with a few seconds on the clock there is a non-zero chance that the field goal is made and Philly still wins.

I wish everyone who boils this game down to "Parkey had one job and he failed" and refuses to acknowledge that losing 16-15 to an inferior opponent at home is a failure on multiple levels would understand this. I've heard so many Bears fans who don't want to blame anyone but Parkey, but the reality is that a 43-yard field goal is not automatic for any kicker. I would have guessed closer to 85% on average, but regardless...it's not like he missed from 23, or even 33. The mere fact that the Bears were in a position to desperately need to make a field goal that is made around 81% of the time means that they underachieved throughout the game. (It's also worth noting, though it doesn't really mean anything, that Parkey still scored more points than the rest of the team combined even with the miss).

6 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I wonder if win probability in these situations should be temperature/Venue-adjusted. Most places when a team wants to avoid a kick-return they just kick it through the endzone - in Chicago in January that's just not an option, making a big kick return vastly more likely. None of this seems significant, but it might serve to take win probability from ~10% to nearly 20%, as kick returns of the size Chicago got seem much less rare in situations where the kicking team isn't opting into the kick.

37 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

ESPN (Brian Burke) has the GP at 25% before and 65% after for a 40% GPA. The 65% WP makes more sense to me given that it was a 1 pnt game with just under 2 mins. left.

Interestingly, the subsequent drive pushed the Bears from a 35% WP to 65% immediately prior to Parkey's kick.

I tried pasting this in earlier but it was flagged by the spam filter:

http://www.espn.com/nfl/game?gameId=401038954

17 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

My opinion: not very, but also not radically different from what we saw all season. I've seen enough of him to be confident that he's not a bust, but now I'm worried he'll be just good enough not to move on from. I do think we have to throw out the wasted year in 2017, so looking at him as a rookie QB, he probably did more good things than bad this season.

19 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Oh, I agree. It wouldn't surprise me at sll if Trubisky became a top 10, even top 5, qb fixture for a decade or more. It also wouldn't surprise me if he was a high variance guy who went from top 5 or 10 to 15-20 year to year for a decade. It would surprise me if he bombed out, or became a low variance mid range guy.

36 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Agreed. Right now I have him pegged as a Matt Stafford, a rich man's Jay Cutler type player. Higher variance than most QBs but with expected output in the top half of starting QBs (but not elite). Best case scenario is that he turns into a poor man's Philip Rivers.

I just don't see him being a top 5 elite QB year in and year out. There's enough inconsistencies within a game and even week to week. Right now, he doesn't have the best accuracy on deep balls to be an elite QB (and throwing to the left), but he should excel in the short to intermediate ranger particularly between the numbers to give him value as an above average starter.

Lastly, Trubisky and Jared Goff are great examples of how the coach can make the QB. Frankly, I'm not sure that either are that elite, but certainly with elite coaches, strong surrounding talent, and schemes to fit the talent, they can excel. Maybe the coach alone can add +10 to +20% DVOA, but we'll never know...

26 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I judge every qb on dropped ints, and have long said the dropped int is the most overlooked play in football, given the very large effect the int has on qb metrics, even the most sophisticated. I'm to the point now where I'm starting to lose some confidence in the adequacy of even a multiyear sample size, when it comes to filtering out the random nature of the interception, in terms of measuring qb performance. I could easily imagine two qbs performing exactly the same over a 5 year period, but one having 25-30 more ints in that period, for reasons that have nothing to do with qb performance. Then I think about what effect 25-30 more, or fewer, ints has on how we rank qbs in a 5 year period, and I begin to really question how we evaluate the position.

58 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Dropped INTs can certainly skew the perception of a single game or an abbreviated season, but except for maybe 4 or 5 of the most extreme cases in a given year, I don't think they have too much of an impact on sample sizes of 500-600 passes, and almost certainly not on multiple seasons.

FO publishes adjusted interceptions every year. It's not exactly the same thing, but since dropped INTs are much more common than tipped INTs, I think they're close enough to help take a look. It seems the vast majority of QBs end up with an adjusted interception rate within about 1% of their actual interception rate - about 5 or 6 INTs over the course of a full season.

Looking back two seasons, the biggest full-season outliers were Eli and Ben in 2016, throwing 11 and 12 dropped INTs, respectively. Yes, that is a lot of dropped interceptions, but again, all QBs throw dropped interceptions. Eli and Ben ended up with about 6 dropped interceptions more than the average QB. Given that there doesn't appear to much year-to-year consistency in QB "luck," I don't think that adds up too much over time.

In fact, Eli and Ben rebounded to have near-average seasons in 2017 with 5 and 4 dropped INTs apiece. So even with their outlier seasons in 2016, over the course of those two full seasons they only would have ended up throwing about 3 dropped INTs more than the average QB - about a 0.2-0.3% difference in INT rate. In the end those QBs' dropped INTs account for about 1.5% of their pass attempts over those two full seasons. Even if you compare to a unicorn QB whose actual INTs = adjusted INTs, that's a difference of just 0.75 ANY/A - that'll slide you up or down a couple of spots in the middle of the leaderboard, but it's not enough over the course of multiple, full-season sample sizes to turn a Mark Sanchez into a legitimate starter or an average starter into Peyton Manning. (Edited after checking back over some numbers.)

60 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

OK, now factor the ints which occur due to poor route running by receivers, which is not a rare event, is uncharted to the best of my knowledge, and is not randomly distributed among receivers. Now factor ints which occur because a qb is playing on a team with a bad defense and/or bad blocking and is thus frequently down multiple scores, forced to make throws that qbs in better situations have the luxury of avoiding.

I'm not confident at all that two qbs, equal in true performance, are extremely unlikely to have a disparity of 25-30 ints over 5 years.

62 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

For sure, not just interceptions but all of a quarterback's stats are going to depend on the quality of his teammates and coaches. If you're just talking about dropped interceptions, though, I think that's mostly random. Again, most QBs' adjusted INT% is within 1% of their actual INT%.

If QB A throws 25 or 30 fewer INTs over a 5 year period than QB B, I agree that you cannot be completely certain that QB A is outperforming QB B given all of the factors that go into whether a given quarterback is successful. But it's not going to just be because of dropped INTs - there are other systematic factors driving the fact that QB A is throwing fewer interceptable passes than QB B.

63 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

The int has such a large effect on, for instance, DYAR, that attributing ints to qbs, when it was not qb performance that produced the int, will, if it persists for several years, really distort our rankings within eras. I guess what I am saying is that advanced metrics really drives home how very limited our true knowledge of performance really is. For many years I've found debates about career quality to be be pretty stale and pointless, when people presume to make fine delineations, and I believe that more strongly today than ever.

5 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Scott-reading that about Foles I could not help think about an article I read recently-will Mahomes turn out to be more like Marino or Foles? You can bet KC fans are hoping like mad it is more like Foles. A quick check of each guys PO resume confirms it. Dan never was able to play 3 very good games in any PO year.

8 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I'd forgotten the Dolphins, in the generally much weaker AFC, only made the playoffs in 10 of Marino's 17 years, and only 5 times in his first 10 seasons. I'd say Marino really protected Shula's reputation for the latter half of Shula's very long career.

9 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

We (the Dolphins) gave Marino a team in the early to mid 80's that was made for success-it was so good that David Woodley took us to the '82 S.B. It was so good that our D was Ranked No.1 for Least Points Allowed in '83, and Dan could not play good enough to help us win even 1 PO game in '83. Mahomes should have been so lucky.

11 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

The only standard defensive stat worth paying.attention to is points allowed. In Marino's 1st 10 seasons, in the years they were missing the playoffs, the Dolphins were usually in the bottom 20% of the league in points allowed, and Marino is why they could hang around .500. I think it is a real mistake to seperate a handful of games, out of a sample of a couple hundred or more, in an effort to judge career performance. If we employ that method of analysis, Jeff Hostetler was better.than Philip Rivers, or Drew Brees.

20 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Will-answer this as honestly as you can. You are in a room discussing NFL QB's and you overhear a guy say "yes but don't forget that he could not win the big one". If Dan Marino's name doesn't immediately come to mind, then you are not being totally honest. And Marino earned that reputation.

21 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

When I hear someone say, with regard to any player or coach, in just about any team sport, "Yes, but don't forget he could not win the big one", I think the person saying it likely has a profound misunderstanding of the observable world.

24 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I don't include Jim Kelly for this reason-he did get his team into position to win that S.B. game with the Giants but Norwood missed the field goal. I like to look more at how a QB played rather than just the results of the game-although usually they tend to go hand-in-hand.

33 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Let's look at what Kelly did to get his team in a position to win Super Bowls. In the 1990 season, the Bills beat the Dolphins 44-34 in the Divisional Round. Kelly threw for 339 yards on 29 attempts 3 tds 1 int 1 fumble (which the Bills had the good fortune to recover). His team ran for 154 yards. Marino threw for 323 yards on 49 attempts 3tds 2 ints 0 fumbles. His team ran for 107 yards. Because the Bills only lost 1 of their three fumbles, the Bills win the turnover battle 3-2.

In 1991, the Bills beat the Broncos in the Conference championship 10-7. The Bills scored their td on a pick 6, Elway had 223 yards passing and 1 int, Kelly had 109 yards passing and 2 ints.

1992 was the year the Bill made it past the Wild Card round because Kevin Gilbride was too dumb to call some running plays, and Frank Reich, playing for Kelly, was the qb for the winning side in perhaps the most improbable comeback in playoff history.

In 1993, the Bills beat the Raiders in the Divisional round 29-23 in a game where the Bills lose 1 of 3 fumbles, and get penalized for 15 yards, and the Raiders lost one of two fumbles and are penalized for 77 yards.

I think it profoundly distorts reality to say that, in a game as complex as football, that the qb gets a team in position to win a Super Bowl.

34 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Except for the fact that I was specifically talking about the last 2 minutes of that S.B. game with the Giants that ended with a missed field goal attempt that would have won the game for the Bills. Even Scott K. would have credited Kelly with a 4th Q. Comeback and a Game Winning Drive.

12 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

You might want Mahomes to play like postseason Foles, but you would want him to play like regular season Marino. After all, if he plays like regular season Foles, it will be hard for the Chiefs to even make the playoffs, especially with their current defense.

Of course, the ideal would be to play like Montana: great in the regular season, and even better in the postseason.

15 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Foles is 26-18 with a Pro Bowl as a regular-season starter (22-11 if you don't penalize him for Jeff Fisher's 8-8 bullshit) with a 2:1 TD-INT ratio and one of the most efficient seasons in NFL history.

Foles plays like a combination of early-career Rich Gannon and late-career Rich Gannon, or one of the Johnson Bros.

32 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

RickD-it takes more than just a good D to win it all-football is the ultimate team game. But we (the Dolphins) gave Marino at least 5 D's that could have helped win it all, but Dan had trouble playing more than 1 good PO game every year but 2 (out of 10 ). Twice we gave him the No.1 D in Least Points Allowed and he went 1-2 with overall pretty bad stats.

35 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

The first time the Dolphins with Marino had a team with a defense thst was number 1 in points allowed was his rookie year. The 2nd time was when he was 37. In Marino's 2nd year, the Dolphin's were 7th in points allowed. The Dolphins made it to the Super Bowl, to be soundly beaten by the historically great 84 Niners. The next good defense they had was 1990, when they lost to the Bills in the playoffs. As in most instances when the Bills beat the Dolphins, the Bills rushed much better, the best example being 95, when the Bills outrushed the Dolphins 341 to 70.

In Marino's 17 seasons, the Dolphins were 22nd or worse in points allowed 5 times. They were 8th or better 4 times, one his rookie year, and one at age 37.

38 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

The year Dan was 37 we played the Broncos in the PO's after having beaten them soundly in the Reg. Season. Marino really outplayed Elway in that Reg. Season game. In the PO game Elway outplayed Marino and we got stomped partly because Dan led our O to only 3 points compared to the 31 or so in the Reg. Season game.

42 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

T> Davis did not have a very good game in the Reg. Season partly because Elway didn't either, Elway picked up his game in the PO's and so did Davis. The biggest difference in the 2 games-the way Marino and our O played.

45 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I'm almost surprised that Elway and Davis played in Miami on a Monday Night, in a week 16 game when the Broncos had the number 1 seed wrapped up.

I know it is tempting to cherry pick games or drives (!) to evaluate long careers, but it really is a temptation best resisted.

44 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Nah, if you can't lead your offense to at lesst 20 points at age 37, against a championship defense, in that defense's home stadium at 5000 feet, in a playoff game, it's harsh criticism of that 37 year old's entire career, and the fact that the 37 year old did much better against that defense in week 16, in Miami, on a Monday night, when that defense already had the number 1 seed wrapped up, proves it.

48 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Don't you understand that Elway was a pure choker against NFC champions, until Joe Montana lent Elway lent his "Have Lewis Billups drop an easy interception and win Ringz secret decoder ring" whereupon Elway became a Steely-Eyed NFC Champ slayer in his late 30s?

66 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Now you are catching on. You are right-Elway choked away 3 more possible Rings for him and his teammates. That is why he only has 7 Rings now instead of 10. Now apply that same logic to my guy (Marino)-Dan also choked away 3 more Rings which is why he now only has 1 instead of 4.

70 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

OK, here are Marino's stats from those 3 Champ. games that he choked away. He had 4 TD's but 6 INT's, a Comp.% UNDER 50%, an avg. Passer Rating of around 60, and he led our O to an avg. of only 12 p.p.g. Now, how is a team supposed to win championships when their QB is plating like that ?

51 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Will-I think you are making more excuses for Marino than even I used to make. Back in the day me and my buddies had this mantra-if we lose just remember this-it wasn't Marino's fault. No matter how bad Dan played, we can come up with enough excuses to get him off the hook for the loss. But after watching all 18 PO games a couple of more times-Dan just did not play good enough a majority of the time.

52 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

The clincher for me was Chase Stuart's study on P-F-R where he came up with an Approx. Value for QB's in the PO's. Marino had 8 games in the Negative, and 2 others in the single digits. His overall Value to his team was also in the Negative ( -156 ) while guys like Montana, Bradshaw, Elway, and a few others had Values from 500 to 1,000. Dan probably had the biggest differential going from Reg. Season to Post-Season, and that differential was all Negative.

54 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I love PFR, but words are inadequate to describe how profoundly unwise it is to pick out 15-30 games out of a total sample of 200-300, and from that much smaller sample make confident assertions with regard to comparative quality of play. It is a nuclear powered confirmation bias machine.

56 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Will-my justified belief after re-watching Marino's PO games and studying his stats and facts about his PO resume have me concluding that the team he played for would have had trouble achieving their main goal each year-having some or having great success in the PO's. It also leads me to conclude that Marino would have had trouble reaching The Pinnacle of His Profession. Only my justified belief.

73 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Indeed, and there was no way Miami was beating the '90 Bills. I was at that game, and the Bills were a wrecking machine at that point. It spoke to how good Miami was that year that they were even in that game.

The Raiders would find out they weren't as good as Miami. ;)

75 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Mike-aren't you forgetting some facts there. We (the Dolphins) beat them 30-7 in the '90 Reg. season game, 37-10 in '92, 22-13 in '93, and 23-6 in '95.It was only in the PO's where we could not beat them. Yes, 3 of those 4 were in Miami, but so was the Conf. Champ. game in '92 and we had the higher Ranked D that year as far as the NFL officially Ranked the D's.

76 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

One other note on that '92 Conf. Champ. game-remember we beat them 37-10 in Miami in the Reg. season, well they beat us in that PO game 29-10. Needless to say, Marino played a much worse game in the PO's. But that was all part of a pattern for Dan. His PO losses were almost always 1 of the very worst games that he played all year long.

77 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Just to illustrate what I said above-Marino had a Passer Rating of 108.4 in that Reg. season game with the Bills in '92, but his Rating dropped to 56.5 in that Conf. Champ. game. That low Rating represented the 2nd worst game for Dan all yearout of 18 games.

27 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Would be curious to expand upon that FG miss list to find the most un-clutch playoff kicker in the modern FG kicker era.
A great candidate would have to be Nate Kaeding. He's on the list for missing a do or die, but he also missed one in OT that would have beat the Jets in 2004, went 0-1 in a 3 point loss to the Pats in 2006, and went 0-3 in a 3 point loss to the Jets again in 2009. I remember all vividly.
Analyzing the difference between Reg season and Playoff make % would be intriguing. Pretty sure that at the conclusion of 2009, Kaeding held the NFL record for highest accuracy (just a hair under 90%), but that fell off to around 50% in playoff games, and under 33% in playoff games decided by 3 or less (or OT).
Pretty good candidate for most unclutch, which in turn has gotten dumped on Rivers' shoulders because, well, it's always the QB.

Beyond playoffs, it would be interesting to see how it would factor into the 4QC/GWD records. Those are recorded for QB's and coaches, but is Kicker ever accounted for? Both Mannings, Brady, Ryan, even Flacco, Luck and Prescott have had very solid/great kickers pretty much throughout their careers.

When you're a Chargers fan, Kicker has been a sore spot for a long time...maybe there's some light at the end of the tunnel now with Badgely. Feeling much better going to NE with the Badgely/Anthony Lynn combo than any of the Chargers previous iterations...although back-to-back 1pm EST starts is almost a death-knell:
https://www.footballoutsiders.com/stat-analysis/2016/east-coast-scheduling-bias

31 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I think this is what you want.
http://pfref.com/tiny/zn6Gi

1994 to today. I discounted any attempts at 56+ yards as unreasonably low percentage of success. Janikowski has a few 60+ yard attempts that were the kickign version of hails mary.

Most misses:
7.
Mason Crosby (9-16)
Kris Brown (8-15)

Also least accurate with 10+ chances.

Least accurate:
Craig Hentrich, Younghoe Koo, and Eddie Murphy are all 0-2.

Bryant, Prater, and Folk are all 100% on 10+ attempts.

Vinatieri has the most attempts and most makes.

59 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Can the Eagles still trade Nick Foles if he does not want it?

Here is why I ask. Peter King and other talking heads and some Eagles fans think the team can trade Foles for a kings ransom. I think he can't be traded. The Eagles have 5 days after the Super Bowl to accept the 20 million dollar option next year. If they pick it up then Foles has maybe 5 days after their reply to decide if he wants to buy out of the contract for 2 million.

If he does buy out of that contract, is he an automatic UFA with no ties to the Eagles?

This is not an expiring contract. Does it count the same as if the Eagles cut him (no waivers)?

Richard Sherman signed with SF 2 days before Free Agency started because his contract was terminated. How would it be any different with Foles?

64 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

"If he does buy out of that contract, is he an automatic UFA with no ties to the Eagles?"

No, it just voids the 2019-2020 year in the contract.

"Richard Sherman signed with SF 2 days before Free Agency started because his contract was terminated. How would it be any different with Foles?"

Sherman was released by the 49ers - his contract was still active, and terminated. It's different with Foles because it's a year option. No matter what, Foles is under contract until the beginning of free agency in 2019. If the Eagles pick up his option and Foles doesn't buy out of it, he's under contract for 2019-2020 as well. If the Eagles do *not* pick it up, or if Foles buys out of it, he's not under contract after the beginning of free agency, and it's the same thing as a player in the final year of his deal.

Which means the Eagles can then franchise him to keep him under contract for 2019-2020.

Given Foles's relationship with the team (which is really good, and the Eagles are working to keep it that way - see the bonus given to him even though he didn't quite technically earn it), the most likely situation is that the Eagles look for a trade partner immediately after they're out of the playoffs (including after the Super Bowl), including Foles in the discussion to work out new contract details in principle. Then the Eagles pick up the option, Foles declines to buy out of it, he's traded to the new team and they extend his contract.

But I doubt it'll net the Eagles much in return - most likely it'll be something like a high second round pick - simply because the Eagles don't have a lot of leverage, since the only reason Foles would agree to a more restricted free agency situation is to avoid the $2M hit, which obviously isn't much of a cost.

However while that might seem like a given that Foles would just take the hit and go to free agency, there's reason to believe he wouldn't - he's almost certainly not going to go to a "highest bidder" situation anyway, since he's smart enough to realize that he needs a decent situation to succeed as well. So I'd imagine what'll probably happen is Foles and the Eagles would sit down, figure out what teams make sense to try to see if they're interested in a trade, and target those, and if they don't get any bites there, the Eagles might even try to think about a restructured contract again.

It's really a pretty unique situation. It's really weird because although the public perception of Foles is either that he's just "playoff magic clutch" Saint Nick, or "really good backup who does well in good situations," the truth is that all Foles really needs is a very solid O-line and receivers who can either get open or have a wide catch radius. That might sound like "well, that's any QB" it's not - Foles just isn't an in-play improvisational QB at all, he's not one of those guys who has crazy instincts on what a defense is going to do, but he doesn't get rattled in the face of pressure, pretty much at all (unless he actually gets sacked, obviously).

2013: same O-line all 16 games, very good receiving corps, super-awesome Foles
2014: massive O-line injuries (only 1 starter played all 16 games), good receiving corps, okay Foles
2015: haha Rams
2017: good receiving corps, O-line dealing with left side issues in Giants/Raiders game (okay Foles), stabilized in playoffs (awesome Foles)
2018: O-line, receivers decimated at beginning of year (bad Foles), healthy at the end of the year (awesome Foles)

It's not the playoffs, it's the offensive line and receivers. People were talking about Peters maybe being done at the beginning of the year, and he was a freaking brick wall against the Bears. Versus *Khalil Mack*. Alshon Jeffery was out at the beginning of the year, and versus the Bears suddenly everyone's like "man, what a catch radius that guys has." Gee, you think that might've made a difference?

61 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

It seems to me that he can be traded, but no partner will be found, since Foles can void the contract. The smart thing for a GM is to simply announce, without naming names, that they will looking to improve at qb early in the 2019 season.

65 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

If he gets traded at all, it'll probably be for a second round pick at most. Anything lower than a third round pick and the Eagles won't bother, because they'll get a third as a compensatory pick almost certainly. It doesn't make sense for Foles to be completely against a trade, because it *does* cost him some money, and not hitting free agency isn't going to reduce his value that much since he won't necessarily go to the highest bidder anyway (since obviously his total compensation depends on how long he plays there, so he's not going to go to a garbage team).

I think the biggest reason he won't be traded is that the best situation for him is probably the Giants, and it doesn't make sense for the Giants to give up anything to the Eagles since they're in the same division. That also depends on the results of 3 open coaching jobs though (Denver/Miami/Cincinnati).

68 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Yeah, pretty much agree, although I don't know why anyone would give up that much, if they think they would be an attractive destination for Foles. It would just be easier to tell Peter King that you will be trying to obtain a high quality qb early in 2019.

69 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

I'd have to think Foles is going to know whether or not teams have any interest in him, because obviously the Eagles will *try* to trade him if they don't plan on making a drastic change, and obviously since Foles can opt out, they'll include him in the discussions too.

Plus I don't actually think "team X wants me a lot" changes Foles's decision making at all, because I think he's more concerned about the fit being right than how big the contract actually looks. It's easy to dismiss that and say "yeah, but money changes a lot of things" but I'm not suggesting Foles is purely altruistic either: right now Foles's image is ludicrously marketable, and going to a team and struggling could just destroy that entirely. It's not even insane to think that if the right situation doesn't come along Foles could even want to stick with Philly. It's entirely possible that his next team is the last team he plays on, and so there are post-football considerations here as well.

I mean, the one real situation that could throw this to the wind is if the Eagles get a call from a team that really thinks they can do something next year with the right QB but really wants Foles in a restricted bargaining situation. Then Philly could always franchise and trade. That *might* be worth a first round pick to some teams. Wouldn't be to me, but I'm not a contract negotiator.

74 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

Does a franchise and trade work if the receiving team doesn't know if Foles will come in, and if they know he'll come in, why make the trade? Does it not serve Foles best if the team he next plays for has not given anything up of value to get him? That's why he isn't tradable; it serves his interests best if the team he goes to hasn't given up any talent to get him, and he can make sure it doesn't.

78 Re: Clutch Encounters: Wild Card

"Does a franchise and trade work if the receiving team doesn't know if Foles will come in,"

Yup, you can trade a tagged player even if they haven't signed the contract. The only risk that the receiving team is making is that Foles won't actually play for them and he'll retire instead, but it'd be easy enough to make that a requirement of the traded resources.