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Week 10 Game Scripts – The Saints Give Up

Reminder: the 2015 Game Scripts page is now updated.

Drew Brees threw just 28 passes last week, and was sacked two more times. For some teams, that’s not unusual, but the Saints have always been very pass-happy under Brees. In fact, since Brees came over in 2006, there have been only 48 games where New Orleans had less than 35 pass attempts (excluding sacks). In only four of those games were the Saints losing after three quarters, and in only one of those games were the Saints trailing by more than 7 points through three quarters.

Until Sunday. New Orleans trailed by 23 points entering the 4th quarter, which would be prime territory for a pass-happy game for most teams. In fact, since 2006, there had been 31 games where New Orleans trailed by double digits entering the 4th quarter; on average, the Saints threw 45 passes (excluding sacks) in those games, with only one game (a 29-attempt game in week 17 against Carolina in 2009 which Brees did not play in) coming in with fewer than 36 attempts!

That makes the Saints game in week 10 all the more remarkable. A 28-pass attempt game by Brees when the Saints get blown out? That’s unheard of. The Saints ran Tim Hightower on the game’s final seven plays. Running out the clock while getting blown out is one strategy, I suppose. Obviously New Orleans wasn’t going to win once they were down by 33 points, but it is pretty rare to see a team just sit on the ball like that. Frankly, they would have been better off from a health perspective having Brees take a knee on each play.

Below are the Game Scripts data from week 10.

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
KAN@DENBoxscore29131616.4333250.8%491675.4%
WASNORBoxscore47143313.9283147.5%302554.5%
PITCLEBoxscore3092111.3382164.4%511478.5%
CHI@STLBoxscore3713248.5263741.3%372163.8%
MIN@OAKBoxscore3014167.1263344.1%451970.3%
BUF@NYJBoxscore221755.5313249.2%352459.3%
ARI@SEABoxscore393275.5503360.2%341865.4%
CAR@TENBoxscore2710175.2313447.7%251956.8%
DET@GNBBoxscore181621.8382560.3%641878%
JAX@BALBoxscore222020.8482268.6%462168.7%
HOU@CINBoxscore1064-0.4362559%412166.1%
NWE@NYGBoxscore27261-1.4452366.2%472367.1%
TAMDALBoxscore1064-2.2402660.6%332161.1%
MIA@PHIBoxscore20191-3.7392660%523559.8%

In addition to New Orleans, Chicago was a team that checked out as very run-heavy. The Bears ran 37 times and on 69% of all plays; both numbers were the highest of any team in week ten.

On the other side, the Steelers and Browns were both very pass-happy. Cleveland passed nearly 80% of the time, which is very high even given the -11.3 Game Script. Meanwhile, the Steelers still passed on 64% of all plays. Then again, neither team could get the running game going: the Browns rushed 14 times for 15 yards, while Pittsburgh produced an only-good-by-comparison 21 for 60 stat line.

Green Bay threw on 78% of all plays in a game that was close throughout with the Lions. And Jacksonville and Baltimore both threw on just over two-thirds of their plays in a game that was close throughout. This isn’t too surprising, though, as all three of these teams have exhibited pass-happy tendencies in the past.