Steven Hauschka’s field goal with 9:40 left in the second quarter was the first score of the game; that means for the first 20 minutes and 20 seconds, the score was tied. Cam Newton responded with a touchdown drive, hitting Steve Smith for a three-yard score with 3:20 left in the half. So for six minutes and twenty seconds, the Panthers trailed by three. It wasn’t until 2:26 left in the third quarter that the next score occurred, courtesy of Hauschka’s second field goal of the day. This means the Panthers led by four for fifteen minutes and fifty-four seconds. Russell Wilson threw the game-winning touchdown with 10:21 remaining, the final score of the day. This means for 7:05, the Seahawks trailed by a point, and then for 10:21, Seattle led by five points (following an unsuccessful two-point conversion attempt).
As it turns out, that gives us a Game Script of exactly 0.00. In other words, on average, this game was tied. Here’s how to do the math:
By comparison, the Jacksonville-Kansas City game was much more one-sided:
- With 12:32 left in the first quarter, J.T. Thomas blocked Dustin Colquitt’s punt, which resulted in a Jaguars safety.
- That lead lasted all of three minutes and twenty-three seconds, which is how long it took for Alex Smith to find Donnie Avery for a five-yard score with 9:09 left in the first.
- Next, Smith connected with Junior Hemingway for a three-yard touchdown with 1:40 left in the first quarter.
- With 6:29 left in the second quarter, Jamaal Charles punched it in for a short touchdown, bringing the score to 21-2.
- The final score of the day was a Tamba Hali pick six of Blaine Gabbert, with 12:51 left in the fourth quarter.
Here’s how that game looked, which resulted in a Game Script of 15.6:
I’ve whipped up a program to calculate the Game Scripts of every game in week one.1 To no one’s surprise, Houston’s huge comeback in the late game Monday Night gave them a win, and the Texans had the lowest game script of any winning team in week one.
|Kansas City Chiefs||@||Jacksonville Jaguars||Boxscore||28||2||26||15.6|
|Philadelphia Eagles||@||Washington Redskins||Boxscore||33||27||6||12|
|Denver Broncos||Baltimore Ravens||Boxscore||49||27||22||6.3|
|Dallas Cowboys||New York Giants||Boxscore||36||31||5||6|
|Miami Dolphins||@||Cleveland Browns||Boxscore||23||10||13||3.6|
|Indianapolis Colts||Oakland Raiders||Boxscore||21||17||4||3.4|
|Tennessee Titans||@||Pittsburgh Steelers||Boxscore||16||9||7||3|
|San Francisco 49ers||Green Bay Packers||Boxscore||34||28||6||2.4|
|New England Patriots||@||Buffalo Bills||Boxscore||23||21||2||2.3|
|Seattle Seahawks||@||Carolina Panthers||Boxscore||12||7||5||0|
|Detroit Lions||Minnesota Vikings||Boxscore||34||24||10||0|
|New Orleans Saints||Atlanta Falcons||Boxscore||23||17||6||-0.8|
|Chicago Bears||Cincinnati Bengals||Boxscore||24||21||3||-1.1|
|New York Jets||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||Boxscore||18||17||1||-2|
|St. Louis Rams||Arizona Cardinals||Boxscore||27||24||3||-2.6|
|Houston Texans||@||San Diego Chargers||Boxscore||31||28||3||-7.7|
This may not have been the worst day ever for Philip Rivers — after all, he threw four touchdown passes — but it’s another disappointing loss for a Chargers team that is known for disappointing losses. In 2012, San Diego had the 11th best Game Script average and had the lead during 53% of all game seconds (the 7th best mark), but finished 7-9 after losing fourth quarter leads in four games. Only once did a team in 2012 post a Game Script of seven points or higher and lose last year: the Chargers against Mike McCoy’s Broncos.
I want to introduce one other stat today, and solicit input from the crowd. We all have heard the stat on where each team’s average drive started, but I went a step further and calculated the average yardline of each team in each play in week one. In other words, how far from their own endzone was each team on its average snap in week one? A higher number means a team operated more frequently in enemy territory — having the ball on your opponent’s one-yard line gets recorded as a “99” while having the ball at your own one is simply a “1.” The numbers below have some errors, like all play-by-play data, but I don’t think that will be too significant.2
This means that on average, the Raiders average snap came inside the Colts 45-yard line, while the average Jacksonville offensive snap was at their own 31. I have my thoughts on how to use this information, but I don’t want to prejudice the reader. To entice you to provide your thoughts in the comments, here are the results from the 2012 season:
- Here’s some fine print. I would like to run Game Script numbers pretty frequently during the year. Normally, it takes several hours to calculate Game Scripts at the end of the season, and it takes no less time to calculate them for one week than for seventeen. However, I found a way to cut a couple of corners and get Game Scripts calculated pretty quickly. The downside is it’s possible the Game Scripts scores I present will be inaccurate by a couple of tenths of a point from time to time. I don’t consider that a big deal, but I wanted to alert you to that possibility. [↩]
- For example, I’ve got the Eagles at 75 plays, not the 77 they officially ran. My play-by-play missed the final kneel down at the end of the game and the following third down attempt in the third quarter: Michael Vick pass incomplete deep left intended for Riley Cooper. Penalty on Brent Celek: Unsportsmanlike Conduct, 15 yards, Penalty on Brent Celek: Offensive Holding (Declined). In the interest of full disclosure, I always want to let you guys know when I’m working with non-exact/nonofficial data. But if I want to produce current data with a short turnaround, I’m going to have to cut some corners. This is my way of preempting anyone in the comments say “what are you talking about!! The Eagles ran 77 plays, not 75! This post is a huge waste of my time!” Which is ironic, since I now know that is a lock to happen. [↩]