Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

Usually I save this sort of thing for the Tuesday DVOA commentary, but I should have enough other things to talk about, so let's spend a little extra time today considering yesterday's 58-0 Seattle win over Arizona.

The opponent adjustments in DVOA will change over the next three weeks, so this isn't the final rating for this game. In fact, the opponent adjustments will change tonight, since both Seattle and Arizona played the Patriots earlier this year (and either beat them, in the case of Seattle, or "I can't f-ing believe this crappy ass team actually beat the Patriots" in the case of Arizona).

Based on the ratings as of this morning, however, the Seahawks come out with the third-highest single-game DVOA rating of all-time (i.e. since 1991). That's pretty remarkable considering that a lot of their dominance was based on fumble recovery, and DVOA is giving less credit for that -- especially for recovering a muffed punt, since muffed punts are almost always recovered by the return team.

Seattle was firing on all three cylinders yesterday: They had an offensive DVOA of 55.5%, defensive DVOA of -68.7%, and special teams DVOA of 16.2%.

When the final Week 14 ratings come out tomorrow, the Seahawks will either be first or second, depending on what happens with New England and Houston tonight. No matter what, there will be a huge gap between the top four teams (Denver, New England, San Francisco, and Seattle) and the rest of the league. With tonight's game yet to be played, that gap is 12 percentage points.

Here are the best DVOA games since 1991; I've included the rank of each opponent for the season in question to give you an idea of how much the opponent adjustments might be responsible for such a high rating.

Best Single-Game DVOA Ratings, 1991-2012 (as of Week 14)
Rank Year Team DVOA Week vs. Score Opp DVOA
1 1991 WAS 149.6% 1 DET 45-0 17
2 1999 PIT 145.4% 1 CLE 43-0 30
3 2012 SEA 140.5% 14 ARI 58-0 27
4 2008 NE 139.0% 16 ARI 47-7 21
5 1994 PHI 138.2% 5 SF 40-8 3
6 2002 ATL 135.1% 12 CAR 41-0 25
7 2009 NE 130.9% 6 TEN 59-0 21
8 2004 NE 130.2% 10 BUF 29-6 3
9 2002 KC 129.4% 13 ARI 49-0 31
10 2010 PIT 128.2% 11 OAK 35-3 21
11 2012 SF 126.8% 11 CHI 32-7 6
12 2007 DEN 125.1% 14 KC 41-7 25

And here is a list of the worst DVOA games since 1991. Because of opponent adjustments, there are some different games on this list. Arizona just misses this top dozen, coming in 14th at -137.1%.

Worst Single-Game DVOA Ratings, 1991-2012 (as of Week 14)
Rank Year Team DVOA Week vs. Score Opp DVOA
1 2002 ARI -167.9% 13 KC 49-0 4
2 2000 CLE -163.8% 14 JAC 48-0 15
3 2005 SF -160.7% 7 WAS 52-17 7
4 2007 KC -153.6% 14 DEN 41-7 17
5 1999 CLE -153.2% 1 PIT 43-0 20
6 2009 TEN -147.8% 6 NE 59-0 4
7 2000 ARI -145.8% 8 DAL 48-7 23
8 2005 SF -145.6% 2 PHI 42-3 18
9 1991 TB -144.3% 9 GB 27-0 23
10 2003 ARI -141.1% 11 CLE 44-6 22
11 1997 CAR -140.2% 11 DEN 34-0 2
12 1992 IND -138.5% 3 BUF 38-0 7

One other note: The ratings above are regular-season games only; I have not yet had a chance to finish running every postseason back to 1991 with the new version of the ratings introduced this past offseason.


64 comments, Last at 17 Dec 2012, 8:44pm

1 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

So the Cardinals didn't even set a franchise record for worst single-game DVOA ever? In fact, they didn't even crack the Top-3?

Le Sigh.

4 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

The Eagles did WHAT to the 1994, 14-2, Young and Rice, Super-Bowl-was-over-in-five-minutes 49ers?

EDIT: and PFR says the game was in San Francisco???

6 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

That was the turnaround game for that 49er team. Steve Young shouting at George Seifert on the sideline after getting pulled somehow galvanised the rest of the team around him and from that point on they were simply lethal. They ended the year with one of the highest weighted DVOAs but the early struggles prevent them from competing for the top overall DVOA.

11 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I went to the game after that, when the 49ers beat the Lions 27-21 in Detroit. Young got the absolute snot beat out of him there, too, as the Lions led 14-0 early on. When the team came back from that it seemed to undo what the Eagles had done the week before, and the team won its final 13 meaningful games (they lost to the Vikings in the season finale while resting their starters).

14 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

Actually, I remember the turnaround coming a quarter and a half into their next game. Their next game was against the Lions, and the Niners came out really flat. The Lions jumped out to a 14-0 lead...Young was getting battered, leading to the iconic video of him literally crawling off the field after an injury. But in true Lions fashion, they let the Niners reel of 27 unanswered points to win, and they never looked back the rest of the season.

Wow, exactly like last night's game. Now I'm suddenly depressed.

8 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I remember watching that game. Some early bad breaks and Young was benched early, except he didn't stay on the bench and kept yelling at the coaches.

But everything fell into place for the Niners after that. It can be good to get the stink bomb game out of your system in the middle of the season.

9 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I believe the Browns stinkeroo that's No. 2 on the first chart and No. 5 on the second chart was the first game in the history of Cleveland Browns v. 2.0, was it not?

15 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I think this game might wind up in the top (or bottom) ten once 1989 is compiled. The Steelers had 53 yards in 45 plays, 8 turnovers, and their longest play went for 21 yards on 4th and 23.

18 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

There was also the Oilers' 61-7 trouncing of the Bengals back in 1989. Jerry Glanville was pissed at the Bengals for some reason I can't remember, and took revenge by putting his foot on the gas once he gained an advantage and not letting up.

20 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

You got that backwards, it was the Bengals who trounced the Oilers. Sam Wyche hated Jerry Glanville, so he blatantly ran up the score. (Glanville was a proto-Jim Schwartz...every coach in the AFC Central hated him because they thought his teams were dirty).

23 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

The only player ever drafted from my alma mater scored the last touchdown in that game. He went on to a decent career in Canada.

Sadly, they have a claim to being the worst college football team in America this year (0-9 in Div III, gave up over 50 points per game).

28 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

1984 will be interesting as well. Seattle and Kansas City traded blowouts, and each team was decent.

I believe the 1984 Seattle win would have represented the most fantasy points scored by a defense in NFL history.

16 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I would be interested to see a weighted DVOA not unlike the season listing to better put the game in perspective to the opponent's strength. Watching Arizona's pathetic effort was like watching a car crash in slow motion.

26 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

The Cardinals won their first four games. Then, they lost to the Bills by a FG, to the Vikings by a TD, got hammered by the 49ers and Packers, and lost to the Falcons by less than a TD. That doesn't spell crappy on the face of it.

33 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

This is always a problem with stats like this and full season SoS adjustments. I wonder how many teams on that list were absolutely decimated by injuries at the time of their drubbing and weren't really the same team as some of their previous play.

37 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I don't know what DVOA will think about it, but I'm a lot more impressed by what New England has done to Houston tonight than what Seattle did to Arizona...

51 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

I wouldn't be surprised if the DVOA split from the NE-HOU game isn't nearly what the final score suggested. NE had some pretty crazy luck with the fumbles, and it terms of total yardage gained/surrendered, the difference wasn't as bad as the score makes it look.

53 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

The ST difference will probably be alot given all the penalties the Texans had on returns.

I agree though, as the Pats did have a few short drives that ended in punts, and two fumbles in the red zone (I don't think they will get a DVOA bump because one of the fumbles happened to be recovered for a TD). Opp Adjustments will probably make it a little more skewed to a truly dominant win because the Texans are good, though.

40 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

Usually I save this sort of thing for the Tuesday DVOA commentary...
Premature pontification. It can happen to the nicest guys.

44 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

This site has had an article about the best teams in the DVOA era to miss the playoffs, and the 2004 Bills were #1 on the list. That team went into week 17 at 9-6, and all they had to do to make the playoffs was beat a Pittsburgh team resting it's starters, and somehow they flubbed it up.

59 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

It is part of the AFC east mystic. It is not that the Jets, Miami and Buffalo haven't ever put talented teams out on the field... its just that these teams (post mid nineties at least) seem to always under produce in the regular season and then fade fast back to mediocrity. I believe the 1998-2000 Dolphins had really good teams and little to show for it also. I think what you respect about the Patriots is not only do they bring in talent but they tend to perform well in the regular season with that talent. They constantly beat out the other three franchises even in the years the Pats have slip out of the top 5.

50 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

The Redskins' win in that best DVOA game ever gave rise to Tony Kornheiser's famous year-long series of "Bandwagon" columns. His shtick after Week 1 was that the Redskins were so great, they were going to clearly roll all the way to the Super Bowl without ever being challenged. Then as the season went along and they got to 12-0, the shtick had become reality. I still say that if Dallas hadn't beaten them (using a Hail Mary at the half and a surprise onside kick to do it) the Redskins would have gone 19-0 that year. Their only other loss was in Week 17 when they let the Eagles come back in the 2nd half vs. back-ups. Here's the first Bandwagon column:

Note that the Lions didn't have Barry Sanders that night. He later returned and helped Detroit to the NFC Championship game. So the team the Redskins crushed weren't playing up to their season-long opponent DVOA of #17.

52 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

The Redskins dominated that game so thoroughly I steeled myself for a 4-12 season by the Lions. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the Lions would be returning to RFK later that year for the NFC Championship game. I didn't realize at the time that Redskins were simply an all-time great team that was firing on all cylinders that night.

54 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

Are there - or should there be - DVOA adjustments for teams missing major players? Not only that game, but, say, teams facing the Bears last season after Cutler (and then Forte) went down. A win versus the Bears in week 3 would've been far more impressive than a win vs. the Bears in week 15... I realize this is a bit of snowball territory (you could justify adjustments to every game for one reason or another, and every team misses a player or two every week), but perhaps for extreme cases?

58 Re: Seattle and the Best DVOA Games Ever

What I enjoyed most of the game was with a minute left and down 58 Arizona got the ball and instead of taking a knee and leaving they tried to prevent the shut out. As if 58-7 or 58-3 would somehow feel better. As far as I could tell all it did was expose their players to one minute more of potential injury in totally pointless attempt to salvage something. They didn't score. I know some ppl want to go down fighting to the last but it makes me wonder at what score and with what time on the clock is it OK (smart) to just get out of dodge rather than pointlessly stick your guys out there to do something no one in the stadium believes you can do. With 1 minute remaining and down 58-0 I think I would have been OK with the Arizona coaching staff taking a knee and saying "I don't think we can win this one"
... any other takers?

On a side note I wonder how bad Miami was in that Jacksonville playoff game?