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21 Oct 2014

Clutch Encounters: Week 7

by Scott Kacsmar

We had nine close games for the second week in a row, but for the first time all season the only prime-time game with a fourth-quarter comeback opportunity was on Thursday. Week 7's greatest drama came in the early afternoon on Sunday when the Lions, Redskins, and Bills all scored game-winning points in the final two minutes while the Rams made sure Seattle would be relegated to Clutch Encounters of the Losing Kind.

Game of the Week

New Orleans Saints 23 at Detroit Lions 24

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 13 (23-10)
Win Probability (4QC starting with 5:17 left): 0.01
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 3:10 left): 0.40
Head Coach: Jim Caldwell (9-16 at 4QC and 11-16 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Matthew Stafford (11-24 at 4QC and 13-24 overall 4QC/GWD record)

Three times this season the Saints have been asked to uphold a one-score lead in the fourth quarter. Three times they have failed, and it's not just about the defense. This whole team has botched the four-minute offense and two-minute defense dating back to big losses last year in New England and Carolina.

New Orleans controlled this game for 55 minutes. Neither team got the running game off the ground. Neither team had its star receiver healthy, with Jimmy Graham registering zero catches and Calvin Johnson inactive. The difference was at quarterback. Drew Brees was very sharp against a stout Detroit defense for three quarters while Matthew Stafford failed to generate much offense. When Stafford's pass grazed off Jordan Thompson's hands in the red zone for an interception, the Saints really had a chance to put the game away, but settled for a field goal.

Still, at 23-10 with 5:17 to play and Detroit backed up at its own 10, the Lions' win probability was just 0.01 according to Advanced Football Analytics. That's when an unlikely hero emerged. Corey Fuller hauled in a pinpoint pass from Stafford on third-and-10 for 21 yards. On third-and-14, Stafford threw short of the marker, but Golden Tate made an incredible run after the catch for a 73-yard touchdown in what was a career game for him. Now we had a game and the Saints were in their danger zone with 3:38 to burn. They were aggressive with early-down passes, but Brees failed to complete both.

On third-and-9, the call had to be a pass, but Brees must not have seen Glover Quin coming to jump the route for a big interception returned to the 14-yard line. That was a poor decision, and the only good news was Detroit was unlikely to take up much time to score. The defense had a chance to be heroes, but on fourth-and-5 Rafael Bush was penalized for pass interference. The defense successfully rushed four to pressure a bad throw, but Bush bailed out the Lions by making contact on a play that never had a chance to be completed. After two runs, Stafford went back to a wide-open Fuller for the touchdown with 1:48 left.

The only bad news for Detroit was that Brees still had 1:48 from his own 20 to drive for the winning field goal. The bad news for New Orleans was Brees couldn't hit the side of a barn in the fourth quarter. After 10 consecutive unsuccessful dropbacks in the fourth quarter, Brees was facing a fourth-and-10. He saw the hole open up and did a kamikaze scramble for the first down. That was the only successful dropback Brees had on 15 fourth-quarter plays as Detroit's defensive line did its job. On fourth-and-3 Detroit rushed four, but Brees lofted a pass incomplete for Robert Meachem at midfield, and that was the game.

This is the sixth time in his career Stafford has rallied the Lions to a win after trailing by 10-plus points in the fourth quarter. That's pretty impressive for a 69-game career.

On a day when the Saints could have brought some respectability to this putrid 2014 NFC South race and perhaps silence some of their "road woes" critics, they imploded again in the final minutes. Between Rob Ryan's defense and Sean Payton's offense, the Saints have not had an answer on either side of the ball to hang onto leads.

Clutch Encounters of the Winning Kind

Minnesota Vikings 16 at Buffalo Bills 17

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 6 (16-10)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 3:07 left): 0.25
Head Coach: Doug Marrone (4-6 at 4QC and 6-7 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Kyle Orton (8-20 at 4QC and 9-21 overall 4QC/GWD record)

Since taking over for EJ Manuel, Kyle Orton has posted respectable traditional stats, but the advanced numbers have not been as impressed due to his high sack rate (9.5 percent) and tendency for failed completions. In other words, he's completing a lot of passes that do not lead to many points.

Yet for the second time in three games, Orton led a fourth-quarter comeback in a game Buffalo only needed 17 points to win. That's a credit to the Buffalo defense, which sacked Teddy Bridgewater on consecutive plays in the red zone to force a field goal. Buffalo then trailed 16-10, and Orton's first opportunity ended when he was sacked by Sharrif Floyd on third down. The Vikings had an opportunity to nearly put the game away, but between a delay of game penalty and an incomplete pass, the Bills had 3:07 left and two timeouts to drive 80 yards for the win. That's plenty of time.

They would need all of it too, because the Vikings made things difficult with two of their six sacks on the day coming in the final two minutes. The second set up a fourth-and-20. Usually a team would call its timeout in this situation, but Buffalo quickly got back to the line and ran a play right out of Madden: four verts out of a trips-right formation, targeting the slot receiver going down the seam. After dropping a pass two plays ago, tight end Scott Chandler came through this time with a 24-yard catch.

Since 2000, offenses in a 4QC/GWD opportunity are 7-of-39 (17.9 percent) on fourth-and-20 or longer. I last looked at this when Ray Rice helped the Ravens survive in San Diego in 2012. Two of those seven teams still lost, while three more eventually won in overtime on another drive. The only other team to cap off a game-winning drive was the 2003 Cardinals when Josh McCown hit Nate Poole on fourth-and-25 with a 28-yard touchdown to knock the Vikings out of the playoffs.

Hot damn, Minnesota. You let it happen again, but at least the stakes weren't as high. Buffalo still had to make some big plays too, especially after Orton was penalized for intentional grounding with 25 seconds left. If you thought the Chandler play was impressive, the 28-yard catch by Chris Hogan to beat Xavier Rhodes at the 2-yard line was even better. Buffalo hurried to the line for the spike and still had five seconds left. Orton had good protection against a four-man rush and delivered a strike to Sammy Watkins. Rhodes was no match for Watkins, and the Bills had the game-winning touchdown. Minnesota could only try a few hopeless laterals on the kick return to end the game.

Thanks to all the sacks and penalties, Orton ended up passing for 105 yards on the game-winning drive alone. The only drive in my database I could find with more gross passing yards was Shaun King throwing for 111 yards on a game-tying field goal drive against the 2000 Dolphins.

It's only one game, but Buffalo has to feel good about two huge personnel decisions this year when watching Orton hook up with Watkins on a game-winning touchdown.

Kansas City Chiefs 23 at San Diego Chargers 20

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 1 (14-13)
Win Probability (GWD starting with 1:51 left): 0.50
Head Coach: Andy Reid (30-57-1 at 4QC and 42-65-1 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Alex Smith (12-20 at 4QC and 14-21 overall 4QC/GWD record)

San Diego came back to sweep the Chiefs in two thrillers last season, but the underdog turned the table on Sunday with an impressive road performance. Trailing 14-13 to start the fourth quarter, the Chiefs capped off their very long drive with a great effort on a screen by Anthony Sherman for an 11-yard touchdown. Granted, there was 14:50 left, but it was still a surprise to see the Chiefs kick the extra point to make it 20-14. Since 1994, 109 touchdowns have been scored in the fourth quarter by a team trailing by one point. Ninety-eight teams went for the two-point conversion to try making it an eight-point game, and 52.0 percent succeeded. Teams failing on the conversion were 33-14 (.702) in the game and teams converting were 42-9 (.824)

The Chiefs are the 11th team to kick the extra point, and those teams went 9-2 in the games. For a good bit of trivia, Andy Reid's Eagles were involved in both losses: making one comeback in Cleveland and allowing one in Dallas. I lean towards going for two, but a six-point game this early in the quarter might have actually helped the Chiefs in the end.

Philip Rivers had been on a hot streak, but he struggled in scoring territory against Kansas City. The Chargers settled for field goals on back-to-back drives to tie the game, which you kind of expect from a team down six and then three points. There's not the same motivation to get the touchdown with that deficit. A kickoff penalty started Alex Smith at his own 8 with 1:51 left in a 20-20 tie, but that's plenty of time with a timeout to spare. After getting to the San Diego 30 with big passes to Dwayne Bowe and Travis Kelce, the Chiefs could have used the running game with Jamaal Charles to make the field goal shorter, use clock, or make the Chargers use their timeouts.

Instead, Smith threw two incomplete passes on short-yardage situations and the Chiefs tried a 48-yard field goal with 26 seconds left. No one has ever praised Reid for his clock management, but what Mike McCoy did was extra foolish. He burned one of his three precious timeouts to ice the kicker. You know, if that kick's good, you're really going to need that timeout, Mike. Cairo Santos made the kick and Rivers needed a miracle, starting at his own 20 with 21 seconds left. He was smart to go for the bomb right away, but Ron Parker broke up the pass to Eddie Royal. With 12 seconds left, you have to bomb it again and hope for a catch and immediate timeout, but Rivers was way off and Kurt Coleman came away with just the third interception of the season for Rivers and for Kansas City's defense.

Tennessee Titans 17 at Washington Redskins 19

Type: 4QC/GWD
Largest Fourth-Quarter Deficit: 1 (17-16)
Win Probability (4QC/GWD starting with 3:14 left): 0.46
Head Coach: Jay Gruden (1-4 at 4QC and 1-4 overall 4QC/GWD record)
Quarterback: Colt McCoy (2-7 at 4QC and 4-7 overall 4QC/GWD record)

Two teams of a similar (low) caliber unsurprisingly produced a close game. The surprising part was Kirk Cousins being benched for Colt McCoy in the second half after two more turnovers. The forgotten McCoy completed 11-of-12 passes for 128 yards, but half of that production was Pierre Garcon turning a short pass into a 70-yard touchdown, which is the longest completion of McCoy's career.

Washington led 16-10 in the fourth quarter, but the Titans had an answer because they went for it on fourth-and-1 at their own 45 with 9:11 left. Jackie Battle converted with a 1-yard run. We are so used to seeing teams punt in that situation, so it was refreshing to see Ken Whisenhunt go for the high-percentage conversion.

Two plays later, Charlie Whitehurst had a perfect pocket and Derek Hagan beat E.J. Biggers for a 38-yard touchdown with 7:41 left to give Tennessee a 17-16 lead. Pressure forced a three-and-out after two sacks of McCoy. The Titans' clock-killing offense leaves a lot to be desired. After a penalty made it first-and-20, Tennessee just ran the ball three times and punted back to Washington with 3:14 left. Sure, they were facing third-stringer Colt McCoy, who hadn't led a game-winning drive since 2011, but that's absolutely too conservative with a one-point lead.

Now the Redskins could use four-down football to get about 50 yards to set up a reasonable game-winning field goal. They only faced one third down on the drive, and that ended up being the critical play. On third-and-2 at the Tennessee 29, McCoy went deep for DeSean Jackson, but Jason McCourty grabbed the receiver and was penalized 22 yards for pass interference. That made the field goal almost a given and the Redskins were able to run the clock down to three seconds. Kai Forbath had no problems with the 22-yard field goal at the buzzer and the Redskins clinched the first fourth-quarter comeback and game-winning drive of the Jay Gruden era.

Of course we all expected Colt McCoy to be the one behind center when that happened, right?

Clutch Encounters of the Losing Kind

Seahawks at Rams: St. Louis Special Teams Ruin Russell Wilson's Special Day

Oh Jeff Fisher, you beautiful bastard. After building a 21-3 lead on the strength of special teams and a defense that finally generated some sacks, Fisher nearly gave the game away with every conservative fiber of his being. That was until the final minutes when he put his job on the line and made one of the ballsiest calls in recent memory.

The Rams have already blown leads of 21 (Dallas) and 14 (San Francisco) at home this season. Plus, we know all Russell Wilson games end up close eventually. His teams have either won the game or been within one score in the fourth quarter in every game since his 2009 sophomore season. That's a streak of 71 games, and the Seahawks still have a streak of 57 games, one of the longest in history.

So it wasn't a surprise to see the Seahawks rally. The Rams chickened out on a fourth-and-1 at the Seattle 45 and punted the ball back to Wilson to start the fourth quarter. This was one of those rare games where Wilson didn't have the luxury of a good running game, as his backs were held to 65 yards on 22 carries. The defense wasn't sharp either, so he had to put the team on his back with 46 dropbacks. He responded with the first game in NFL history in which a quarterback passed for at least 300 yards and rushed for at least 100 yards. The big push towards that record came on a third-and-9 in which Wilson scrambled, pump-faked and took off for 52 yards down the left sideline.

Cooper Helfet, a third-string tight end forced into action because of injuries, capped off the drive with a great catch in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown. Wilson overthrew the two-point conversion pass with 9:44 left, but Seattle still only trailed 21-19.

This story was starting to look familiar, but the Rams actually responded with a great drive. Austin Davis mostly dinked and dunked his way to an 18-of-21 passing day for 152 yards, but he was effective with only four failed completions and zero sacks or giveaways. On this drive he finally threw some passes down the field and was successful, with no throw bigger than a 30-yard gain to Chris Givens on third-and-6. Marcus Burley, you are no Byron Maxwell. Lance Kendricks caught a 4-yard touchdown with 5:36 left to give the Rams a 28-19 lead.

Wilson led the Seahawks on their third consecutive touchdown drive of 80-plus yards, hitting Doug Baldwin for the score with 3:18 left. Percy Harvin, stunningly traded on Friday, was not missed here, but the defense needed to get the ball back. Not surprisingly, the defense got the three-and-out with a short pass to Tavon Austin easily defended by Richard Sherman on third down.

With 2:55 left and the Rams at their own 18, all the expectations were for Wilson to get the ball back and lead a game-winning field goal drive with as little time left as possible. Fisher had to know that his defense was not stopping this offense. So he called one of the gutsiest fake punts in NFL history. Punter Johnny Hekker threw a good pass to Benny Cunningham for an 18-yard gain. Cunningham was wide-open, because who in the world would expect the Rams to go for a fake in this situation?

That extreme unpredictability is a good reason to love the call because you have to expect it will work. If this didn't work, the Seahawks were almost guaranteed to regain the lead. However, since they would have likely been starting in the red zone, the Seahawks wouldn't have been able to run too much of the clock and the Rams would likely get the ball back with a chance to answer. It would have been much easier to criticize Fisher's gamble if the fake had failed and Seattle had gone on to score a touchdown. This was definitely a huge risk, and I would dare say it was a bigger risk than the one Bill Belichick made on fourth-and-2 in Indianapolis in 2009 with a six-point lead. If the Rams were leading by three, then I would implore Fisher to run this fake, but in just a two-point game, that's really putting your balls on the table.

The only problem for St. Louis was that the play was over before the 2:40 mark, so three kneeldowns would not have ended the game. On a third-and-1 run with 1:14 left, Tre Mason made a rookie mistake by trying to avoid a tackle and gain more yards after already getting enough real estate for the first down. Malcolm Smith forced a fumble and the Rams were very fortunate to recover to finally clinch the win.

Wilson had a special day, but the special teams were even more decisive for the Rams, who are shockingly one game behind the 3-3 Seahawks in the NFC West.

If you would like to read more about this game, check out Any Given Sunday.

Jets at Patriots: Close as Folk

The Jets gave New England all it could handle on Thursday night, but rushing for 218 yards and possessing the ball for nearly 41 minutes just isn't that impressive when you have to settle for five field goals. However, one more field goal would have done the job in a 27-25 game.

Geno Smith had 66 seconds from his own 12, only needing a field goal. He might have pulled this off if he had not botched the beginning of the drive with two checkdowns to Chris Johnson, who failed to get out of bounds on either play. One dumpoff is fine, but two is overkill when you're not stopping the clock. Finally, Smith started throwing passes to receivers capable of getting to the sideline and he completed three passes for 29 more yards. With eight seconds left at the New England 40, Smith had to be quick and to the sideline with his pass. He looked left the entire time and quickly threw the pass away with man coverage on his two receivers. If he had chosen right instead, he would have seen Eric Decker running a quick out with a big cushion; that would have been an easy pass for a few yards. Maybe Smith wanted no part of Darrelle Revis, but he and the Jets chose the wrong side.

Enter Nick Folk for a 58-yard field goal attempt to clinch the biggest upset of the season so far. With these new "Next Gen Stats" the networks are promoting, one of them earlier in the game showed that a Folk field goal would have been good from 58 yards away. That's cool, but a kicker really doesn't kick a 47-yard field goal the same way he kicks a 58-yard field goal. When it's 58 he knows he has to get a longer kick, so the trajectory must be flatter. That leads to blocked field goals, and sure enough the Patriots blocked this one with Chris Jones getting a piece of the ball. If that name sounds familiar, it was Jones who was penalized for pushing his teammate into the Jets' offensive line on a missed field goal by Folk in last year's 30-27 overtime loss to New York. Folk then made the 42-yard field goal that day, but there would be no second chance on Thursday.

The Jets now stand at a league-worst 0-5 on game-winning drive opportunities in 2014 after a league-best 5-2 record last season.

Giants at Cowboys: Are You Having a Good Time Now, Jerry?

Every week DeMarco Murray has rushed for at least 100 yards, becoming the first player in NFL history to do that in seven consecutive games to start a season. After too many turnovers against the 49ers in Week 1, every week Tony Romo seems to make the right plays when he has to. The "no-name defense" has created at least one takeaway in each of the last six games. Every week Jerry Jones has been celebrating this unexpected winning streak, which has grown to six games -- the longest for Dallas since 2007.

Dallas is finally playing consistent football and has continued winning the close ones this season. The Giants usually play a tough game with the Cowboys. Eli Manning has already led three comebacks and game-winning drives in AT&T Stadium, but his opportunity ended prematurely this time. Down 21-14, Manning thought he found Larry Donnell for a first down on third-and-8, but Barry Church stripped the tight end of the ball. Dez Bryant made the Giants pay with a great looking 24-yard grab on third-and-8. Murray scored a touchdown to go up 28-14 with 9:11 left, but Manning was able to lead another drive and found Odell Beckham Jr. for a touchdown on fourth down with 5:28 left.

Cue a four-minute offense situation for Dallas, but unlike last year's Green Bay debacle, this time Romo twice made accurate passes on second down to Bryant, who caught all seven of his second-half targets. The Giants used their final timeout with 1:51 left, but Dallas just needed to run the ball on third down (without a holding penalty by Tyron Smith this time) and set up Dan Bailey for a field goal. You would like to get a closer kick than 49 yards, but Bailey nailed the field goal with 59 seconds left. That only left enough time for Donnell to fumble again and bottom out what was otherwise a solid day in which he caught all seven targets for 90 yards.

It's not as though the Giants played poorly on Sunday, but in such a tight game, teams cannot afford to fumble deep in their own end and survive giving up a touchdown on the ensuing short field.

Browns at Jaguars: Drama? Just Drab Offense

I planned to mention some of the memorable finishes the Jaguars and Browns have had, but apparently I did that in last year's edition when Cecil Shorts beat Joe Haden for the game-winning touchdown catch. The only bottle Cleveland fans will want to throw for Sunday's game is an empty one after drowning the sorrows of losing to the Jaguars for the second year in a row.

Things were supposed to be different this time. The Browns just thrashed rival Pittsburgh in Week 6, which is jokingly viewed as Cleveland's annual Super Bowl. But maybe it was this year? The Browns entered the week ranked second in offensive DVOA and the Jaguars ranked 28th in points per drive allowed (2.45). In the end, Cleveland scored six points on 15 drives, including a field goal drive that lost five yards. Alex Mack, out with a broken leg, is a good center, but he doesn't make that huge of a difference for this offense.

Forget the final score of 24-6. This was a one-score game for the first 54 minutes, which is why I always prefer my methods to just using the final score for determining closeness. Cleveland had its share of opportunities thanks in part to the ineptness of the Jacksonville offense, featuring a rough three-pick day for rookie Blake Bortles. Trailing 10-6 to start the fourth quarter, Cleveland actually gambled to go for it on fourth-and-5 at the Jacksonville 43. I dig the call given the lack of offense in the game, but having Brian Hoyer roll out and pitch to Ben Tate on the option is a horrific play-call. Tate lost two yards, but blame the call and not the player.

Cleveland needed 94 yards on its next drive, but Andrew Hawkins picked up 65 of them with a good run after the catch. However, interior pressure led to a sack and incompletion by Hoyer. Jacksonville punted the ball back with 6:01 left, but Jordan Poyer muffed the return and the Jaguars recovered at the Cleveland 8. For some reason Poyer tried fielding the punt inside his own 5-yard line instead of taking a probable touchback. Denard Robinson only needed one touch to score a touchdown. The former Michigan quarterback finished with 127 rushing yards, or four more than Toby Gerhart's season total. Hoyer threw an interception two plays later and the Jaguars had another touchdown drive that wasn't even 9 yards long. That's how a team turns a 10-6 game into a 24-6 game in the blink of an eye.

For an idea of how ugly this one was, 20 of the game's 30 points were scored on four drives that covered a grand total of 23 yards. Bortles had a 9.0 QBR, but that still topped Hoyer (7.8).

This was probably the worst game Bortles has played all year, but he notched his first win. He should be quick to learn a quarterback's best friend is a dominant defense, but unfortunately Cleveland's only on the schedule once a year.

Cardinals at Raiders: NFL's Last Winless Team

Oakland (0-6) is locked in as this season's last team to win a game, but the Raiders were within striking distance late for the fourth time this year. Arizona led 21-13 to start the fourth quarter and did a good job of grinding the clock by converting on two third downs. However, a holding penalty on former Oakland tackle Jared Veldheer killed the drive.

Derek Carr was fresh off a four-touchdown game, but did not throw any scores against Arizona's defense. He tried to hit new receiver Kenbrell Thompkins over the middle, but Thompkins failed to hang onto the ball. On third-and-7, Carr threw a conservative screen pass to Andre Holmes, but Arizona defended it well for just a 3-yard gain. Oakland punted with 7:22 remaining.

Rarely do we get to credit an offense for burning off nearly half of the fourth quarter in a one-score game, but the Cardinals were superb here thanks in large part to Carson Palmer. He didn't have a huge game against the team that traded him to Arizona in 2013, but he was efficient. Palmer picked up three first downs through the air with accurate throws. The 22-yard gain to John Brown on third-and-8 was classic Bruce Arians: five eligible receivers, all but one past the first-down marker, and Brown was the deepest of the deep and hung on after a big hit.

After Oakland used its final timeout with 3:08 left, this was the play of the quarter. It was third-and-8 at the Oakland 35, so that's far from "chipshot" range for a field goal. The Raiders needed a stop, but Arians again had a perfect play drawn up. Andre Ellington split out wide and Travis Carrie played very far off in coverage. Ellington was basically able to follow his fellow receiver as a blocker on a quick pass for 10 yards and a first down. At this point the Cardinals just needed to run three plays and let rookie kicker Chandler Catanzaro nail a 41-yard field goal with 29 seconds left for the 24-13 final. Catanzaro is a perfect 15-for-15 this season, but this kick barely squeaked inside of the right post. Carr added two meaningless completions for 15 yards and the Raiders were officially 0-for-4 at fourth-quarter comeback opportunities.

We will get a much better idea of how good the NFC West-leading Cardinals are with the Eagles and Cowboys up next, but for now they are 5-1 with a 5-0 record at upholding one-score leads in the fourth quarter.

Season Summary
Fourth-quarter comebacks: 26
Game-winning drives: 30
Games with 4QC opportunity: 63/106 (59.4 percent)
10+ point comeback wins (any point in the game): 20

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 21 Oct 2014

9 comments, Last at 22 Oct 2014, 3:12am by Scott Kacsmar


by Biebs :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:15pm

I suspect that the coaches told Geno Smith to only look at one guy. It took him 3 seconds and decide the man wasn't open. Presumably it would have taken another 2 seconds to get the ball to Decker (If Geno was better, he probably would have been able to do this quicker, admittedly). That's where it gets quite dicey.

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 3:59pm

Randall Cunningham never had a 300 yard passing, 100 yard rushing day? That's hard to believe.

by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:07pm

Only three 100-yard rushing days, and never more than 240 passing yards in any of them.


by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 8:10pm
by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 10/22/2014 - 3:12am

I can see Kaepernick having one of these some day. Maybe Cam.

And I must say Vince was the first person I saw on Sunday to bring up the 300/100 fact, so props.

by Led :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:09pm

Question somewhat related to the end of the Jets/Pats game. Is there any rule that prevents a ball carrier who is about to be tackled in bounds from throwing the ball (laterally or slightly backward) out of bounds to stop the clock? I've never seen this happen, but it seems to be an obvious solution if a guy is about to be tackled in bounds with no time to run another play. There's some risk of turning the ball over but since the game (or half) is over if you're tackled in bounds anyway, that's an irrelevant risk.

by Travis :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:25pm

Rule 4-7-1-d: A team is not permitted to conserve time inside of one minute of either half by ... throwing a backward pass [which includes laterals] out of bounds;

The penalty is a 10-second runoff and 5 yards, and the clock starts on the ready-for-play, so it's not generally not worth it unless the offense is wildly out of position to snap the ball again.

by Led :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 5:01pm

That answers the question. Interesting -- a rare pro-defense rule.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 10/21/2014 - 4:40pm

It's gotta be illegal, otherwise guys would do it more.