Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

10 Dec 2012

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.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 10 Dec 2012

64 comments, Last at 17 Dec 2012, 9:44pm by Mr Shush


by Independent George :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:02pm

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.

by Led :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:50pm

What can you say? They are the best at being the worst. Apparently, only Cleveland can compete.

by Independent George :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:02pm

They're the best at what they do, and what they do ain't pretty.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:47pm

When a Cardinal roster decides it wants its coach fired, you can damn well count on that coach being fired!

by ammek :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:32pm

I'd imagine the 2008 loss to New England features in the all-time top 20 or so, as well.

by Jim T (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:11pm

I suppose that you only chart regular-season games and not playoff games?

by JIPanick :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:15pm

I'd actually guess that he meant to write "postseason" rather than "preseason".

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:20pm

Oops. Fixed.

by JIPanick :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:19pm

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???

by Karl Cuba :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:23pm

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.

by Guido Merkens :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:54pm

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).

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:03pm

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.

by justanothersteve :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:02pm

Not surprisingly, I'm feeling much better after reading that.

by Aaron Schatz :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:24pm

Yes. That game is basically the only reason the 49ers aren't actually No. 1 in DVOA for that season.

by miqewalsh :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:27pm

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.

by mathesond :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:55pm

As for the Eagles, I believe that was Rich Kotite's last season on the Philly sidelines, as they lost their last 7 games after starting 7-2. And Kotite went 4-28 with the Jets over the next two seasons, so he wound up losing 35 of his last 39 games

by Lvess :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:42pm

Ah the Kotite years. Another brilliant decision by the Eagles passing over Jeff Fisher for Rich Kotite. Worked out great.....

by Kevin from Philly :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 11:34am

Thanks, I wasn't feeling quite bad enough about reading this comment thread until you mentioned Fisher vs. Kotite.

by Adam B. :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:55pm

Also Charlie Garner's debut.

by Boots Day :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 3:47pm

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?

by Jerry :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 6:51am

You're right. And the Browns managed to win the rematch in Pittsburgh on a last-second field goal by Phil Dawson.

by Travis :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:10pm

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.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:50pm

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.

by Travis :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:04pm

Wrong way around. The Bengals won 61-7, and did things like onside kicking up 45-0; passing near the end zone with 30 seconds left and the clock running; and kicking a field goal for the final points when that failed.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:03pm

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).

by GWT (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:03pm

Actually, it was the other way: the Bengals won 61-7.

by Scott P. (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:43pm

A sign of my immense wrongness: corrected three times simultaneously! Thanks for the refresher.

by EricL (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:04pm

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).

by Jerry :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 6:54am

I remember somebody, maybe Dr. Z, being high on Oliphant going into the draft. Sadly, I also remember that game.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 6:14pm

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.

by Mike B. In Va :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 11:28pm

FOUR pick-sixes? Holy crap.

by Fictional Character (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 1:42am

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

Close: http://www.footballperspective.com/best-games-by-fantasy-defenses/

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:13pm

The current NFL scoring rules are a little different than those. (The largest difference is that safeties are worth much less)

I'd have to calculate it out to see what difference that makes.

by Jim Kelly (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 7:38am

Yeah, that Seattle game was amazing. I remember KC having the ball for 29 straight offensive plays without scoring, or punting. It was finally stopped when Terry Taylor had a pick that wasn't returned for a td.

by mansteel (not verified) :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 2:17pm

Two pick-sixes for Dave Brown? He should never have switched to QB.

by RichardK (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 4:41pm

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.

by greybeard :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:19pm

2005 49ers. Very well represented here. Well deserved.

by freddrick (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:33pm

For it to be a game, don't both teams have to show up?

by JonFrum :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:39pm

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.

by Insancipitory :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 5:52pm

That's probably a more compelling argument for a team that wasn't on the recieving end of a historic beating. Also, you're forgetting (repressing?) losing to the Jets in a game that was described as setting football back 50 years.

by Nekked (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 7:59pm

The only satisfaction I take from that game as a Jets fan is that there's actually a team with a worse QB than mine.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 8:22pm

I think the Cardinals were the single biggest beneficiaries of the replacement officials (particularly their disinclination to call illegal contact), and the Patriots, Packers and Saints the teams most hurt by them.

by Bonzer (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 5:37pm

In other words, teams with precision passing games had their precision wiped away by bumbling replacements that couldn't call pass interference right.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 12/17/2012 - 9:44pm

Well, I think more illegal contact than DPI (which no-one can call right) but yeah, pretty much. It was like the rules had been wound back a decade, and the teams built along hyper-modern lines suffered most.

by Joshua Northey (not verified) :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 8:42pm

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.

by Kal :: Mon, 12/10/2012 - 10:49pm

What were the single best and worst games by voa only?

by Lyford :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:21am

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...

by The Danger (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:27am

So the Patriots rolled over the Texans. Any predictions how this will effect the Seahawks?

by The Danger (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:27am

So the Patriots rolled over the Texans. Any predictions how this will effect the Seahawks?

by tunesmith :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 5:11am

I'm guessing it will make both Seattle and Arizona look a little better.

by Briguy :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 2:56pm

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.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 3:40pm

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.

by nat :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:46am

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

by dbostedo :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 12:53am

Buffalo was 3rd in 2004? Can't be... Buffalo in my mind hasn't been good at all in this century.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 6:26am

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.

by Anonymous3737 (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:22am

Bledsoe dragging the top ranked defense and special teams units into his own brand of mediocrity.

by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:44pm

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.

by RavensJimbo (not verified) :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 2:48pm

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: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/sports/redskins/history/timeline/wa...

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.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 3:08pm

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.

by LionInAZ :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 9:31pm

Of course, it didn't matter in the end since the skins crushed the Lions in the championship game as well.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 12/13/2012 - 12:18pm

Which was a 17-10 game at the half.

by snoopy369 :: Tue, 12/11/2012 - 4:44pm

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?

by johonny (not verified) :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 1:37pm

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?

by Insancipitory :: Wed, 12/12/2012 - 3:19pm

WRT Dan Marino's retirement party, if you can find video of his press conference that about says it all. He's holding his elbow and with a 1000 yard stare he says, "I've never seen anything like that...."