Quick Reads
The best and worst players of the week according to Football Outsiders stats.

Conference Championship Quick Reads

Jimmy Garoppolo & Tevin Coleman
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The San Francisco 49ers are going to the Super Bowl, thanks mostly to Raheem Mostert, who gashed Green Bay for 220 rushing yards. They were also carried a defense that sacked Aaron Rodgers three times, forcing him into three fumbles and two interceptions. They did not get much production, however, from Jimmy Garoppolo -- mainly because they didn't need him to do anything more than hand the ball off as Mostert rumbled for one first down after another. Garoppolo's six completions gained a total 77 yards. Throw in the 8 yards Garoppolo lost on a sack, and the 49ers needed only 69 net passing yards to beat Green Bay.

This comes on the heels of the Tennessee Titans using a similar run-heavy game plan to upset the Patriots and Ravens. While Derrick Henry was historically productive on the ground this postseason, the Titans only had 71 net passing yards in their win over New England, and 83 net passing yards in the victory over Baltimore.

It has been a long time since we have seen three playoff victories by teams that failed to pass for 100 yards in a single postseason. Way back in 1985, Eric Dickerson set a playoff record that still stands with 248 rushing yards in the Los Angeles Rams' 20-0 divisional-round win over the Dallas Cowboys. Rams quarterback Dieter Brock only threw for 47 yards that day. Meanwhile, in the AFC, the Patriots threw for 98 yards in a 27-20 win over the L.A. Raiders, then threw for 71 yards in a 31-14 victory over the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Championship Game. Eventually, the lack of a passing game caught up to both teams -- they were each beaten by the Super Bowl Shuffle Chicago Bears, by a combined score of 70-10.

Here's a look at the other playoff games this century in which a team won with fewer than 100 net passing yards:

  • 2017 Wild-Card Round: The Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the Buffalo Bills 10-3. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles actually had more yards rushing (88) than passing (75). Jacksonville's defense limited the Bills to 263 total yards of offense, while intercepting Tyrod Taylor and Nathan Peterman once each. The Jaguars won a very different game a week later, beating the Pittsburgh Steelers 45-42, then fell to the Patriots 24-20 in the AFC Championship Game.
  • 2009 Divisional Round: The New York Jets defeated the San Diego Chargers 17-14 thanks to 128 rushing yards from Shonn Greene and 41 more from Thomas Jones. Mark Sanchez did produce 100 yards on 12 completions, but fell below the three-digit threshold because he lost 7 yards on a sack. A week later the Jets lost 30-17 to the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
  • 2009 Wild-Card Round: The Baltimore Ravens jumped out to a 24-0 lead and hung on to beat the New England Patriots 33-14. Joe Flacco only completed four passes for 34 yards, while Ray Rice ran for 159 yards and two scores, and Willis McGahee chipped in with 62 yards and a touchdown. Like the Jets that same season, the Ravens were knocked out of the playoffs by Peyton Manning's Colts, losing 20-3 in the divisional round.
  • 2005 Wild-Card Round: In Joe Gibbs' last playoff win, his Washington team beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 17-10 despite only 25 net yards from Mark Brunell. The rushing attack wasn't much better, gaining only 95 yards. The defense, however, intercepted Chris Simms twice, while Sean Taylor returned a Cadillac Williams fumble 51 yards for a touchdown. The next week, Washington fell to the Seattle Seahawks 20-10.
  • 2004 Divisional Round: The absolute peak of the Michael Vick Falcons. Atlanta ran for 327 yards against the Rams -- 119 by Vick, 142 by Warrick Dunn, and 66 by T.J. Duckett -- in a 47-17 triumph. Vick did throw for two touchdowns, but he only gained 82 yards on his 12 completions, adding 2 more on a catch from Warrick Dunn, but losing 14 on a sack. The Falcons also got scores from their defense (which sacked Marc Bulger in the end zone for a safety) and special teams (a 68-yard punt return from Allen Rossum). That was Atlanta's last playoff win with Vick -- they lost the NFC Championship Game in Philadelphia, 27-10, and didn't win another playoff game until the 2012 season.
  • 2000 Divisional Round: Good news, 49ers fans! There is one team on this list that did go on to win the Super Bowl: the 2000 Baltimore Ravens, who only got 85 passing yards from Trent Dilfer and Tony Banks in a 24-10 win over Tennessee. To be fair to the Ravens quarterbacks, this was an awful day for the entire Baltimore offense, which produced only 134 total yards and six first downs. However, the game was still tied at 10-10 going into the fourth quarter, until Anthony Mitchell returned a blocked field goal for 90 yards for one touchdown, then Ray Lewis returned an interception 50 yards for another. The Ravens went on to beat the Oakland Raiders 16-3 in the AFC Championship Game, then thumped the New York Giants 34-7 to win the Super Bowl.

You'll note that all of these games were played in the wild-card or divisional rounds. The last team to win a conference championship game with fewer than 100 yards passing was the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals, who beat the Buffalo Bills 21-10 thanks mainly to a defense that intercepted Jim Kelly three times. This was a week after the Bengals had defeated the Seahawks 21-13 with only 91 passing yards. The Bengals would lose to the 49ers in the Super Bowl, 20-16.

Four teams have won Super Bowls with fewer than 100 passing yards, but it hasn't happened since anyone playing in this year's Super Bowl was born. The last team to do it was the 1974 Steelers, who only had 84 yards passing from Terry Bradshaw in a 16-6 win over the Minnesota Vikings. The Steel Curtain limited the Vikings to 119 total yards of offense, forcing five turnovers and allowing zero points -- Minnesota's only score came on a recovery of a blocked punt for a touchdown.

It's important to remember that this is less a criticism of Garropolo's performance and more of an analysis of San Francisco's game plan. San Francisco is just the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to win a playoff game while throwing eight passes or fewer. The others were all Don Shula Dolphins teams, who threw eight passes in a 21-0 AFC Championship Game win over the Baltimore Colts in 1971, and then six in a 27-10 AFC Championship Game win over the Raiders and seven in the aforementioned Super Bowl win over the Vikings in 1973.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Patrick Mahomes KC
23/35
294
3
0
2
200
167
32
TEN
Mahomes only threw four passes down the middle against Tennessee, but he made them count, completing all four of them for 87 yards and two touchdowns. On third and fourth downs, he went 6-of-9 for 106 yards and a touchdown, plus a 41-yard DPI, for six total conversions.
2.
Ryan Tannehill TEN
21/31
209
2
0
3
84
85
0
KC
Tannehill gains 38 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. This game provided ample evidence to the theory that Tannehill is a fine quarterback in a close game, but not much good in a comeback situation. He threw for 11 first downs when the game was within one score, but only three after the Chiefs opened up a two-score lead. After the deficit grew to 11 points, Tannehill went 9-of-12 for 81 yards with three sacks.
3.
Aaron Rodgers GB
31/39
326
2
2
3
74
74
0
SF
Rodgers gains 73 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. In addition to his two interceptions, he also fumbled three times. He was best on throws to his right, going 11-of-13 for 164 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
4.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF
6/8
77
0
0
1
26
23
3
GB
Garoppolo actually had 11 dropbacks in this game: eight pass attempts, one sack, and two DPIs. Not that it mattered for San Francisco, but he did nothing in Green Bay territory, going 3-of-5 for 12 yards with a sack; his only first down on that side of the field was on a 5-yard DPI. Weirdly, each of his dropbacks in San Francisco territory produced a first down.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Raheem Mostert SF
29
220
4
2/2
6
0
71
79
-8
GB
Mostert loses 16 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He ran for 10 first downs against Green Bay, with seven runs of 10 yards or more, the longest a 36-yarder. He was also stuffed four times.
2.
Aaron Jones GB
12
56
1
5/5
27
1
58
31
27
SF
Jones only ran four four first downs against San Francisco, and they each came with Green Bay down by at least 17 points. His longest run gained only 11 yards. However, he was stuffed just once. His longest reception gained only 9 yards, but he caught one touchdown and two third-down conversions.
3.
Damien Williams KC
17
45
1
5/6
44
0
21
10
11
TEN
Williams' longest run against Tennessee gained only 8 yards, but he still ran for five first downs, converting on all five of his runs with 3 yards or less to go. He was stuffed three times, each with Kansas City up by 11 points in the fourth quarter. His best catch was a 17-yard gain on first-and-10.
4.
Tevin Coleman SF
6
21
0
0/0
0
0
-6
-6
0
GB
Coleman failed to run for a first down against Green Bay, and his longest carry gained only 5 yards. His other carries: four 4-yard runs, plus one stuff on third-and-1.
5.
Jamaal Williams GB
3
6
0
2/3
1
0
-12
-1
-11
SF
Three carries: zero- and 4-yard gains on first-and-10 and a 2-yard gain on third-and-11. Two catches: 2-yard gain on third-and-3 and a 1-yard loss on first-and-10.

 

Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Raheem Mostert SF
29
220
4
2/2
6
0
71
79
-8
GB
2.
Aaron Jones GB
12
56
1
5/5
27
1
58
31
27
SF
3.
Damien Williams KC
17
45
1
5/6
44
0
21
10
11
TEN
4.
Jamaal Williams GB
3
6
0
2/3
1
0
-12
-1
-11
SF
5.
Tevin Coleman SF
6
21
0
0/0
0
0
-6
-6
0
GB

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Derrick Henry TEN
19
69
1
2/2
-8
0
-28
-7
-21
KC
Henry loses 16 DYAR due to opponent adjustments. He only ran for four first downs with a long carry of only 13 yards while being stuffed twice. Each of his receptions went for negative yardage on first-and-10.

 

Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Derrick Henry TEN
19
69
1
2/2
-8
0
-28
-7
-21
KC

 

Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Deebo Samuel SF
2
3
46
23.0
0
40
GB
Samuel's totals include 15 DYAR receiving, 25 DYAR rushing for his two carries for 43 yards. Both of his catches went for first downs; so did his 6-yard DPI in the second quarter.
2.
Davante Adams GB
9
11
138
15.3
0
40
SF
Five of Adams' catches resulted in first downs, the longest a 65-yard gain on third-and-5.
3.
Sammy Watkins KC
7
10
114
16.3
1
38
TEN
Six of Watkins' catches produced first downs; the other was a 7-yard gain on second-and-9.
4.
Tyreek Hill KC
5
7
67
13.4
2
35
TEN
Hill's totals include 29 DYAR receiving, 6 DYAR rushing for his one carry for 7 yards. Four of his catches produced first downs; the other was a 2-yard loss on second-and-2.
5.
Jace Sternberger GB
2
2
13
6.5
1
18
SF
Sternberger's two targets: 5-yard gain on second-and-3, 8-yard touchdown on first-and-goal.

 

Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Geronimo Allison GB
2
3
8
4.0
0
-8
SF
Two catches: 1-yard gain on first-and-10, 7-yard gain on first-and-15. Somebody had to finish last this week, and Allison was the only qualifying WR/TE with negative DYAR.

Comments

8 comments, Last at 21 Jan 2020, 2:57pm

6 Yeah, I don't dispute FO's…

Yeah, I don't dispute FO's wisdom in not excessively discounting play in that latter stages of blowouts, but when the team's offensive performance was so bad in the first half that it in great measure contributed to the noncompetitive nature of the contest before the 2nd half started, it makes sense to look at the 2nd half production with a large grain of salt.

 

 

 

 

2 49era

Can throw the ball of they want to (obviously they aren't as good as the chiefs at it). They just haven't needed to in the playoffs.

Remember Q1 of the divisional game where they passed ~every down (and with good results) until the Vikings went back into 2 high safeties, then they just ran it.

The 49ers offense isn't fantastic, but it's very flexible and exploitative.