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11 Nov 2014

Clutch Encounters: Week 10

by Scott Kacsmar

If you are searching for consistency in a wild 2014 NFL season, at least the NFC South has been reliable. The league leaders in blown fourth-quarter leads are Tampa Bay (five), New Orleans (four) and Atlanta (three). The only win in Week 10 for the division was thanks to Atlanta and Tampa Bay playing each other. Carolina closed out the week by becoming the first offense since 1986 to lose at least 90 yards on sacks. Cam Newton was sacked nine times for 91 yards in a 45-21 loss against Philadelphia.

The NFC South is just 5-19-1 (.220) in non-division games this season. The lowest of lows belongs to the 2008 NFC West (10-30), but we'll see what the next seven weeks bring. At this rate I may have to start finding the record since 2002 realignment for the most blown fourth-quarter leads by one division. The NFC South is accounting for 34.2 percent of all fourth-quarter comeback wins in 2014.

This week we had six games with a fourth-quarter comeback opportunity and each one featured some type of game-winning score.

Game of the Week

Miami Dolphins 16 at Detroit Lions 20

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 3 (16-13)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 3:13 left): 0.27
Head Coach: Jim Caldwell (11-16 at 4QC and 13-16 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford (13-24 at 4QC and 15-24 overall 4QC/GWD record)

A year after blowing seven fourth-quarter leads, the Lions have rallied with three game-winning drives, all finishing in the final two minutes, to improve to 7-2. Bye week aside, here they are again in our Game of the Week. Doesn't that make it three in a row?

The battle of the top two defenses in DVOA entering the week lived up to expectations. Scoring was hard to come by, but the Lions again shot themselves in the foot with bad field goal kicking late in the third quarter. Matt Prater's 42-yard attempt was blocked and returned to the Detroit 3, setting up a Mike Wallace touchdown catch to give Miami its first lead of the game at 13-10. Prater missed once for Denver last season (25 of 26) and has already missed three kicks for the Lions in 2014.

Both defenses are thriving with their front sevens this year and Cameron Wake made a big play to sack Matthew Stafford on third down early in the fourth quarter. Stafford eventually escaped Wake and tried to keep the play alive, but the official ruled he was in the grasp. Prater came through on the 50-yard field goal to tie the game at 13.

Miami used more than half the quarter on a long drive that reached a third-and-goal at the Detroit 2. Ryan Tannehill threw to Charles Clay, the Swiss Army Knife I wrote so glowingly about in FOA 2014, but he dropped the ball in the end zone with some help from safety James Ihedigbo. This basically was a Lee Evans-Sterling Moore situation, but not quite as critical. At least Caleb Sturgis didn't pull a Billy Cundiff and made the 20-yard field goal with 4:19 left.

I'm always interested to see what Stafford does in these situations, because he has a tendency to rely heavily on Calvin Johnson's freakish ability. Johnson returned to action and had a big impact with an early 49-yard touchdown, but Stafford had a higher success rate with Golden Tate, who has been incredible in Johnson's absence.

In crunch time, Stafford twice threw for Johnson, but both passes were dangerous and incomplete in a quick three-and-out drive. Miami had 3:47 to burn with Detroit having all three timeouts. Here they go again with a four-minute offense situation like the one blown against Green Bay in Week 6. After two runs, Tannehill tried to scramble to find a receiver on third-and-5, but threw incomplete. I can't fault the calls there. Offenses just have to convert those medium third downs.

Stafford had 3:13 left at his own 26. Tate's 17-yard catch overcame an early holding penalty. Johnson pulled in a side-arm throw from Stafford for 18 yards and the Lions were already creeping into field-goal range at the two-minute warning, but given the kicking situation, they had to think touchdown first. Everything was on Stafford here with the drive's only run being negated by holding. Pressure led to a third-and-10 and Miami rushed five. Stafford found Tate open and Jamar Taylor slipped in the open field. Ex-Lions safety Louis Delmas did just enough to trip up Tate, but he still gained enough for the first down. We're talking inches from Detroit likely settling for the field goal.

The Tate and Megatron show continued, but Dion Jordan managed to break up a Johnson touchdown in the back of the end zone. Detroit faced a third-and-4. Miami decided to only rush three, which is a major mistake when Stafford's mobile enough to step up in the pocket and find Theo Riddick on a wheel route in the end zone. Reshad Jones tried to make the catch harder, but Riddick made the play on a brilliant throw and catch.

Miami had to go 80 yards in 29 seconds without a timeout, so good luck there (win probability: 0.03). Wallace caught a 20-yard pass, but the Dolphins resorted to a lateral play to end the game and they fumbled the ball out of bounds.

Prior to the 2013 season I wrote about Stafford having a flair for the dramatic with his game-winning drives having the lowest average win probability at the start. We'll have to update those stats soon, but try this one on for size. Since 1998, Stafford has the most game-winning touchdowns (passes and runs) by a quarterback in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter with eight, including his quarterback sneak to beat Dallas last year.

Say what you want about Stafford's mechanics, but his track record in the final minutes with the game on the line can stand up to any of his loftier peers. Combine that with a healthy Johnson and an improved defense, and the Lions are a legitimate threat in the NFC.

Clutch Encounters of the Winning Kind

San Francisco 49ers 27 at New Orleans Saints 24

Type: 4QC and non-offensive game-winning field goal (OT)
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 3 (24-21)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 1:46 left): 0.17
Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh (12-10-1 at 4QC and 14-13-1 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick (6-7-1 at 4QC and 8-9-1 overall 4QC/GWD record)

In a game between the two most disappointing NFC teams this season, naturally the win probability pendulum swung like crazy in the end. Expectations were high for the Saints because they were at home, but this was a 12:00 p.m. CST game. Since 2006 when the Sean Payton-Drew Brees marriage began, the Saints have clearly been more dangerous at night.

New Orleans Saints: Home-field Advantage, 2006-2014
Start Time (CST) Record Pct. NFL Rank Scoring Margin
Early (12:00 p.m.) 25-16 0.610 10th (out of 26) +5.1 PPG
Midday (3:00-3:25 p.m.)* 6-2 0.750 3rd (out of 32) +8.9 PPG
Prime-time (7:00 p.m.)** 16-3 0.842 2nd (out of 32) +15.6 PPG
*Does not include two playoff wins starting at midday (2009 ARI, 2009 MIN)
**Does not include two playoff wins (2007 PHI, 2011 DET)

So much for the Pacific team starting slow, because the 49ers led 14-0 and 21-10 before Brees brought the Saints back. Down 21-17 with 7:15 left to play, Brees engineered a 12-play drive highlighted by Marques Colston's 24-yard catch on a little stick route on fourth-and-3. On third-and-goal, the 49ers left Perrish Cox in single coverage with Jimmy Graham out wide. That did not work and Graham used his size advantage to score the 2-yard go-ahead touchdown with 1:52 left.

The 49ers' season record was in danger of dropping to 4-5, but there was time to at least get the field goal. Incredibly, Anquan Boldin (twice) and Michael Crabtree dropped three straight passes to set up fourth-and-10. With the game on the line, we knew exactly where Colin Kaepernick would throw the ball again. When does he not target Crabtree in these moments? But what would Rob Ryan do on the defensive call? He rushed four, Kaepernick escaped and bought lots of time before firing a bomb to a shockingly wide open Crabtree for 51 yards. I have no idea why Corey White kept looking into the backfield instead of plastering his receiver, because when you're that far away from the action the only way to get beat is to leave Crabtree open. He did and Kaepernick found him.

Fortunately for the Saints, Kaepernick's next three passes were terribly off the mark and that conserved enough time for Brees to answer Phil Dawson's 45-yard tying field goal. Brees had one timeout and 44 seconds at his own 20. He moved the ball to the San Francisco 47 with five seconds left. That's an obvious Hail Mary situation and Graham is an obvious target on such a throw.

The Hail Mary was almost so easy that something had to be wrong about what Graham did on the play. Sure enough, he pushed off of Cox and offensive pass interference was called. I'm sure it helped that Steve Smith had this call go against him in Cincinnati two weeks ago, because there's an unwritten rule about never calling pass interference in these situations. If you are the defender, you want to try selling the contact for all it's worth to add pressure on the referees, though I do think this was the right call. Finally, the fact the game was tied probably made it easier for the officials to call interference since taking the touchdown away would not erase the Saints' chances to win the game. The only other Hail Mary I'm familiar with having a pass interference flag was on Cleveland's defense against Detroit in 2009, so it's very rare.

Into overtime they went, where the team receiving first is just 23-22-3. The Saints are always going to take the ball first in this situation, but like practically every other offense, we did not see them take true advantage of the opportunity. There has to be some aggression towards getting the touchdown, but the Saints took a delay of game penalty on fourth-and-1 at the San Francisco 43 before punting. Sure, it was closer to two yards than one, but that's still the kind of conservative decision making that makes me wonder why more teams are not willing to go on defense first.

The 49ers stalled on their drive and the Saints were backed up deep. Brees suffered back-to-back sacks and coughed up the ball on Ahmad Brooks' hit, and Chris Borland recovered. Consider that sweet revenge for last year's game when Brooks forced a Brees fumble, but was penalized for an illegal hit I still disagree with.

Jim Harbaugh immediately sent in the kicking unit at the 17-yard line, which I love since there's nothing worse than crediting a game-winning drive that's just a quarterback falling down to center the ball. Dawson almost made the plan backfire by kicking one of the ugliest 35-yard field goals ever kicked.

The 49ers are alive and the Saints are still leading the worst division in football, but that's another blown lead and a record-extending 15th lost comeback for Brees. We shouldn't throw a pity party for this one, because his three turnovers really crushed the Saints with none bigger than the overtime fumble. I'm not sure certain quarterbacks lacking a Super Bowl ring (Tony Romo) or accused of not having enough of them (Peyton Manning) could get by with such little criticism for the number of big turnovers Brees has committed this season, but he's been one of the Saints' problems this year.

This game will be covered further in Any Given Sunday later this afternoon.

Kansas City Chiefs 17 at Buffalo Bills 13

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 10 (13-3)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 9:44 left): 0.54
Head Coach: Andy Reid (31-57-1 at 4QC and 43-65-1 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Alex Smith (13-20 at 4QC and 15-21 overall 4QC/GWD record)

Buffalo and Kansas City met for the 14th time in the last 20 years, but with both teams at 5-3 this was their biggest clash since a Week 17 elimination game in 1996 won by Buffalo.

The Bills led 13-3 to start the fourth quarter, but poor offensive execution in Kansas City territory hampered Buffalo all day from taking full control. Alex Smith faced a third-and-16 and found Dwayne Bowe for 15 yards. Without that sizable gain the Chiefs are punting, but this allowed for a fourth-and-1 opportunity at the Buffalo 39. A play I'm somewhat fond of in this situation is the pitch out wide when the defense is expecting an inside run. It's even better when the speedy Jamaal Charles is getting the ball and can take off for a 39-yard touchdown run. Manny Lawson was the only defender with a shot at getting Charles behind the marker, but he bit too hard inside and the Bills were toast.

Several of Buffalo's fourth-quarter strategies were mind-blowingly bad. For starters, Doug Marrone went pass-happy at midfield on two short-yardage plays, then tried to have Kyle Orton draw the Chiefs offside on fourth-and-1. He thought he succeeded, but the result was a false start and Buffalo punt. Kansas City went three-and-out, but it wouldn't be a memorable Buffalo game without Leodis McKelvin doing something crucial on special teams in the fourth quarter. This was not quite the 2009 New England disaster, but he fumbled the punt return and the Chiefs were set up at the Buffalo 26.

Charles ran for 18 yards and then Smith faked out Lawson on a zone-read keeper for an 8-yard touchdown run with 8:59 left. That makes both touchdown runs instances where Lawson failed to set the edge for Buffalo.

The NFL play-by-play incorrectly lists Scott Chandler catching a pass for no gain on third-and-8, which was wiped out by offensive pass interference. Chandler actually had the first down which is why Andy Reid accepted the penalty. On third-and-18, Orton did a good job to find Chris Hogan, but he only gained 17 yards and the Bills punted from their own 41 to pin the Chiefs at the 3. Kansas City went three-and-out after Smith suffered his sixth sack of the day.

McKelvin atoned somewhat for his fumble with a 23-yard punt return. Orton only needed 25 yards and had 4:35 left. In that field position it's almost impossible to use up the clock to get a touchdown, so I think Buffalo needed to move rather quickly in the event they needed an extra possession. The Bills weren't too slow about things, but the pace slowed down after Frank Summers converted a third-and-1 run for a first down.

At the 15-yard line Orton was extremely aggressive, throwing into the end zone on three straight plays. None were really even close to being caught. Orton looked like a quarterback who thought he had 20 seconds left instead of more than two minutes. The Bills faced a fourth-and-10 with 2:31 left. Given they had all three timeouts and the two-minute warning, the 33-yard field goal was a very feasible option here. Kicker Dan Carpenter is 47-of-50 in the 30-39 yard range in his career, so that's almost automatic. Make it 17-16, then we know teams are very conservative in the four-minute offense, so there's always a good shot of getting the ball back, only needing a field goal and likely having more than enough time to do it.

On the other side of the debate, some will argue a team has to give itself every shot of scoring the go-ahead touchdown, so keep the offense on the field. Teams passing on fourth-and-10 convert about 33 percent of the time. If you don't convert, you'll still have the four clock stoppages to get the ball back and drive again for the touchdown.

The way I see it, Orton had his three chances at the touchdown and failed, so kick the field goal and play good defense. Even if an offense gets the ball back with 20 seconds, we know they could just be one great pass and spike away from setting up a game-winning field goal. Buffalo basically did that in Detroit this year.

The Bills went for it and Orton's pass was woefully underthrown and nearly intercepted by Ron Parker, which actually would have been a bad thing for the Chiefs because of field position. Kansas City threw a swing pass on second down, but that only gained a yard and a big third-and-8 came up. Instead of continuing to pressure Smith, the Bills rushed three on a must-stop down and he easily stepped up to find Travis Kelce for 13 yards. That was practically the dagger with the Bills down to one timeout.

Kansas City punted after three runs and McKelvin cost his team four yards and six seconds with an awful return. Orton had just 14 seconds left at his own 20. He threw two short passes to Fred Jackson, who tried to start laterals on the game's final play, but the Chiefs recovered the ball.

St. Louis Rams 14 at Arizona Cardinals 31

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 4 (14-10)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 9:45 left): 0.25
Head Coach: Bruce Arians (11-5 at 4QC and 14-5 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Drew Stanton (3-3 at 4QC and 3-3 overall 4QC/GWD record)

As the NFC West turns, we had some real drama in the final act. The Rams are back to sacking the quarterback and their third of the day knocked Carson Palmer out for the season with a torn ACL. He just crumbled to the ground after trying to escape the rush of safety Mark Barron, who was playing only his second game with St. Louis after a trade from Tampa Bay. Much like in 2005 when Palmer signed a contract extension in Cincinnati, he went down with a serious knee injury just days after signing an extension with Arizona, which entered the week with the best record in football. Isn't life disappointing?

Yes, it is. With their quarterback carted off, the Cardinals watched kicker Chandler Catanzaro miss for the first time in 18 tries this season. With a tough schedule looming and backup Drew Stanton warming up, the Cardinals may have been watching their season fall apart. However, this team has been too good and the Rams have been too bad in the secondary for a 14-10 deficit to faze them. Bruce Arians did not even bother to use a running game that produced 19 carries for 24 yards and put the ball in Stanton's hands from his own 11. He responded by hitting his first three passes for 85 yards, including a 48-yard bomb hauled in on a superb catch by John Brown for a touchdown.

The Arizona defense has been putting on a clinic on how to hold one-score leads this season and Todd Bowles' unit responded with their eighth hold in eight games. This might have been the best stand yet as the defense completely put the game away. Austin Davis brought the good, the bad and the ugly with him on Sunday, and his awful pass to Chris Givens never had a chance as it was intercepted by Patrick Peterson. Given another chance, Davis was a little too high on his throw and Kenny Britt's tipped effort was plucked out of the air by Peterson for a 30-yard pick-six with 5:13 left. If that wasn't enough, Arizona's delayed blitz led to a sack-fumble scooped up by Antonio Cromartie for another defensive touchdown. Davis ended up taking six sacks against Arizona's pressure defense.

Similarities will be drawn between this team and last year's Chiefs, who started 9-0 and prompted me to write about how they were a fraud statistically. Maybe Arizona will only finish 11-5 and not win a playoff game too, but it's been something to follow them each week and see who will make the big play in the fourth quarter. They're usually getting contributions on both sides of the ball and the defense will have to lead the way now given the quarterback situation, which is really unfortunate in a year where every team looks pretty beatable.

Bad luck continues to strike the team hosting the Super Bowl. Palmer is the fifth starting quarterback on such a team since 2009 to be lost for the year with an injury following Chad Pennington (2009 Miami), Tony Romo (2010 Dallas), Peyton Manning (2011 Indianapolis) and Mark Sanchez (2013 New York). The only team's quarterback to survive was Drew Brees in New Orleans (2012), but coach Sean Payton was suspended for that entire season.

Atlanta Falcons 27 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 1 (17-16)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 14:13 left): 0.51
Head Coach: Mike Smith (20-26 at 4QC and 27-26 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Matt Ryan (19-25 at 4QC and 26-25 overall 4QC/GWD record)

After one of the most pathetic performances in NFL history in Week 3, the Buccaneers played Atlanta much closer this time. That 56-14 shellacking was the last time the Falcons won a game and also the last time we saw Josh McCown behind center for the Buccaneers. He returned to his starting job for reasons only Lovie Smith might understand, but at least he had his best game of the season.

McCown's 1-yard touchdown pass to Austin Seferian-Jenkins gave Tampa Bay a 17-16 lead with 14:18 left, but that's the position this defense was in a week ago in Cleveland. It did not help that the rookie used the ball as a prop when celebrating, helping start the Falcons at their own 35 after the kickoff. Julio Jones caught three balls on the drive, but the pivotal play was Johnathan Banks getting hit with a tick-tacky call on third-and-6. The referee said "illegal use of hands to the face" while the play-by-play says illegal contact. So I'm confused what the call is here, but either way Matt Ryan was never even trying to throw to Banks' side of the field.

Roddy White ran a crossing route for an easy touchdown and Harry Douglas came down with a difficult catch on the crucial two-point conversion to give Atlanta a 24-17 lead. Just looking for anyone to make a play on defense, Atlanta succeeded with an unblocked Osi Umenyiora chasing down McCown for a third-down sack. A bad 31-yard punt gave the Falcons good field position and one big 27-yard run by Steven Jackson led to an important 33-yard field goal by Matt Bryant with 4:10 left.

Mike Evans impressed with a 34-yard catch on third-and-20, and as long as Tampa Bay, still with three timeouts, could score before the two-minute warning this was a game. However, facing first-and-goal from the Atlanta 4 with 1:56 left, McCown threw off his back foot and the tipped ball turned into a diving interception by Dwight Lowery. That sucked all the drama out of this one, and McCown later finished with a second pick on a fourth-and-17 desperation throw for good measure.

Now 1-8 as McCown mentioned repeatedly after the game, Smith's Buccaneers lead the league with five blown fourth-quarter leads. The NFL single-season record is seven (2000 Chargers and 2013 Lions). Smith did not blow his fifth fourth-quarter lead as head coach of the Chicago Bears until December 17, 2007 -- his 66th game as coach.

Ryan now has the most game-winning drives (26) through a quarterback's first seven seasons and tied Ben Roethlisberger for the most fourth-quarter comeback wins (19).

Most 4th-Quarter Comeback Wins and Game-winning Drives, First 7 Seasons
Rk Quarterback Seasons 4QC Wins Rk Quarterback Seasons GWD
1 Matt Ryan 2008-2014 19 1 Matt Ryan 2008-2014 26
1 Ben Roethlisberger 2004-2010 19 2 Ben Roethlisberger 2004-2010 25
3 Johnny Unitas 1956-1962 18 3 Peyton Manning 1998-2004 24
3 Peyton Manning 1998-2004 18 3 Tom Brady 2000-2006 24
5 John Elway 1983-1989 17 5 Johnny Unitas 1956-1962 22

New York Giants 17 at Seattle Seahawks 38

Type: GWD
Win Probability (GWD starting with 0:39 left in third quarter): 0.57
Head Coach: Pete Carroll (17-36 at 4QC and 24-40 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Russell Wilson (9-11 at 4QC and 13-12 overall 4QC/GWD record)

The final numbers make this look like another Seattle blowout with an outstanding 350 rushing yards, but the game was actually tied at 17 to start the fourth quarter. It was in the final minute of the third quarter when the Giants lost control. Odell Beckham Jr. was having an outstanding game, but Eli Manning forced a deep ball to him with Richard Sherman in coverage and the pass was tipped to Earl Thomas in the end zone for an interception returned to the Seattle 42. Russell Wilson had a tough day throwing the ball with two interceptions, but he didn't even need to complete a pass on the drive with how well the run was working. Marshawn Lynch capped off the march with a 3-yard touchdown on what became the game-winning drive.

The Giants went three-and-out after Manning held the ball very long against a three-man rush before getting sacked by Michael Bennett. Then Seattle's offense lucked out with two fumble recoveries in a span of three plays on a slick field. Lynch again made the defense pay with a 16-yard touchdown run, his fourth of the day, to take a 31-17 lead.

New York turned the ball over on downs and the Seahawks were right back in the end zone two plays later with more domination on the ground. Wilson topped off his 107-yard rushing performance with a 1-yard touchdown on a zone-read keeper, which the Giants never had any answer for to the chagrin of defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

The 21-point win was the largest by any team this season in a game including a game-winning drive.

Season Summary
Fourth-quarter comeback wins: 38
Game-winning drives: 43
Games with 4QC opportunity: 79/147 (53.7 percent)
10+ point comeback wins (any point in the game): 24

Historic data on fourth-quarter comebacks and game-winning drives can be found at Pro-Football-Reference. Win Probability comes from Advanced Football Analytics. Screen caps come from NFL Game Rewind.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 11 Nov 2014

11 comments, Last at 12 Nov 2014, 10:16am by BDC


by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 4:34pm

You may want to correct the chart of most 4th Quarter comeback wins/Drives as Tom Brady threw a total of 3 passes in 2000. If you add 2007, he picks up 4 more 4th quarter comebacks and at least 2 game winning drives.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 4:44pm

His rookie year was still 2000 and this is based on years in the league, not years as a starter.

by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 4:55pm

It's still totally misleading and gives everyone the wrong impression. Your chart now comparing a basket full of apples to one orange.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 5:05pm

It's not misleading. Like the title says, those are the first seven seasons for all of those players and everyone's compared by the same standard. I'm sure when Ryan gets his 20th 4QC I'll change it up and show the fewest games played to get to 20 4QC (have that already done somewhere).

And I think players (especially QBs) who play right away and play well should always get as much credit as possible, so I typically use years of service for everything.

by RickD :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 5:08pm

"His rookie year was still 2000 and this is based on years in the league, not years as a starter."

Why is it based on years in the league, not years as a starter?

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 7:45pm

Touched on above, but what do you do with years where the player is out with injury? 2013 was Mark Sanchez's 5th season, but he never played in the regular season. Does he get credit for half a season this year since he only took over as starter last night? 2011 was Peyton Manning's 14th season, but he never played. Is he a 16-year starter then instead of 17?

Once you start trying to apply all of those things to every player, it makes producing these tables a lot more work. Even then people will still nitpick at things like injured seasons (Tom Brady in 2008) or games where the player left after a drive or what have you.

So I usually just base things on years in the league, whether it's most GWDs or most receptions or yards from scrimmage. People who dominate these tables tend to have early success, durability and longevity, which is exactly what I think we should want to credit and acknowledge.

by atworkforu :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 6:29pm

I agree with your disagreement with last years roughing the passer call.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 10:01pm

1. Why do you think the Lions would have settled for the FG down by 4 with less than 2 minutes left?

2. I didn't like that in the grasp call. Roethlisberger could have had a couple more defenders on him before they callthat.

3. I'm coming around to the idea that Stafford plays a bit lazy until the game is on the line.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 11/11/2014 - 10:05pm

1. Why do you think the Lions would have settled for the FG down by 4 with less than 2 minutes left?

You threw me for a second there, but Miami was ahead 16-13, so the field goal was in play for Detroit. TD won it 20-16.

by LionInAZ :: Wed, 11/12/2014 - 12:43am

Oops. Bad math on my part!

by BDC :: Wed, 11/12/2014 - 10:16am

2. I liked it. I'm glad to see the NFL finally coming around on these types of plays. Given that the defenders are practically forced to play flag football with the QB and even breathing on them .5 seconds late is 15 yards and an automatic first down, at some point something had to give (provided we aren't going to actually stick flags on the QB).