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Week 14 Game Scripts: Bills and Colts Run In The Snow

A beautiful day for a photographer

There have been 208 games so far this season. Prior to week 14, the Chicago Bears, in a 27-24 win over Baltimore, had the lowest pass ratio of any team in a game at 27.6% (21 passes, 55 runs). Playing in the snow in Buffalo, the Bills rushed 51 times against 16 pass plays, for a 23.9% pass ratio. That’s the lowest pass ratio since a Monday Night Football game in 2014, when the Jets went back to Geno Smith as quarterback and basically didn’t let him throw the ball unless he had to. In modern times, teams just don’t run on 76% of their plays: the only other game since 2010 where that happened involved Tim Tebow, of course.

But wait, there’s more. The Colts ran on two-thirds of their plays, easily the lowest pass ratio of any team that lost its game this year; no other team had passed on fewer than 47 percent of its plays and lost. This was the most run-heavy game of the year and it wasn’t particularly close.

In fact, this was the most run-heavy game since the 2006 game between the Falcons and Panthers where Carolina rolled out a Wildcat offense with Jake Delhomme sidelined and starting QB Chris Weinke playing with a bum shoulder, the Panthers and Falcons combined for 71 rushing attempts and just 27 passes (plus six sacks). But the combined 97 runs for the Bills and Colts (helped by 15 overtime runs) was the most in a game since 1981 between the Chiefs and Bears that also went to overtime and was played in cold and wet conditions. The full week 14 Game Scripts, below:

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
LACWASBoxscore30131714.6363550.7%291960.4%
DENNYJBoxscore2302313.2333548.5%252352.1%
KANOAKBoxscore26151113.1383353.5%441180%
CHI@CINBoxscore337269343847.2%401375.5%
MIANWEBoxscore272077393056.5%451081.8%
JAXSEABoxscore302466273841.5%332457.9%
CARMINBoxscore312475.4273642.9%502170.4%
DET@TAMBoxscore242134.6441871%412859.4%
BUFINDBoxscore13763.4165123.9%234633.3%
DAL@NYGBoxscore3010201.7303149.2%462961.3%
SFO@HOUBoxscore2616101.6353153%412463.1%
PHI@LARBoxscore433581.6533262.4%281762.2%
PITBALBoxscore393811.4691681.2%362658.1%
ARITENBoxscore1275-1.6342954%342260.7%
ATLNORBoxscore20173-2283743.1%371571.2%
GNB@CLEBoxscore27216-4.1472763.5%302752.6%

The Lions, Steelers, and Patriots were the most pass-happy teams of the week. Detroit beat Tampa Bay and led most of the game, but that still didn’t stop Matthew Stafford from throwing 44 passes. The Lions running backs combined for just 44 yards on 15 carries, leading to a pass-happy Game Script for the Lions.

Ben Roethlisberger and Pittsburgh had a whopping 69 dropbacks, including 66 pass attempts. Roethlisberger had 44 completions, the 2nd-most in NFL history. The Steelers led big early, then trailed big late, and Roethlisberger and the team never stopped throwing. Pittsburgh scored on its first four drives and last four drives, and the passing offense picked up 23 first downs, tied for the most in a single game this year.

Finally, the Patriots passed on over 80% of plays, something which rarely happens because New England so often plays with a lead. The Patriots had a -7.0 Game Script in the upset loss to Miami and finished with just 10 rushing plays. This was only the sixth time in franchise history, and only the second time in the last ten years that New England had 10 or fewer carries. The only other time came in a game against the Jets that I chronicled during the Game Scripts update that week.

{ 5 comments }
  • Richie

    I didn’t watch the Pit-Bal game.

    Baltimore had the ball on its own 25-yard line with 3:29 to play and a 2-point lead.

    On first down, they passed incomplete.
    On second down, Collins ran for 7 yards.
    On third down and 3, they passed incomplete.

    The two incompletes each ran 4 seconds off the clock. If they had run the ball both of those times, they could have run another 70 seconds off the clock. (Or, forced the Steelers to use their time outs.) Instead of Pittsburgh getting the ball back with 2:25 left and 3 time outs, Pittsburgh could have had only 1:15 seconds left.

    And this is a game where Alex Collins ran for 120 yards!!! He’s averaging over 5 yards per carry this year.

    Why do teams keep doing this to themselves? Didn’t they learn by watching Atlanta in the Super Bowl? Were there game situations that I can’t see in the play-by-play that made passing more logical?

    • Richie

      Also, DVOA has Alex Collins as the most valuable RB in the league this year.

    • Wolverine

      Yea, I thought that was crazy at the time, too.

      The Dolphins did the same thing on Monday night when they had a 10 point lead with less than 4 mins left, but luckily it didn’t cost them. They could have made it so the Patriots wouldn’t have even had time for an onside kick.

  • Josh Sanford

    Interestingly, the Bears had 3 guys with 17 or more carries in that 1981 game, whereas in the Colts game Sunday, each team had a single player with 30 or more. Pretty rare these days. But Frank Gore! He has to be the oldest guy who has ever “Carried His Age” in that he is 34 and he had 36 rushing attempts.

  • Josh Sanford

    In football media, you sometimes hear this narrative about guys who “aren’t going to carry the ball 30 times a game” or what have you. It’s total nonsense. The list below is not intended to be exhaustive, but merely illustrative, of just how unusual it is when a player carries 30+ times in an NFL Game (not including playoffs):

    Dickerson 21
    Campbell 20
    C Martin 19
    Payton 18
    George 17
    J Bettis 16
    E Smith 14
    E James 14
    R Williams 13
    L Johnson 13
    G Rogers 11
    Riggins 11
    T Davis 10
    S Alexander 9
    B Sanders 7
    J Brown 6

    On a lighter note, Eric Dickerson once carried 30 times for a total of 53 yards. Yikes. Punt much? (Just kidding, because I know Rohn Stark punted 10 times that game–tied for his highest number of punts in a game, in 231 games in which he punted.)

    And one final note: Dickerson and Tomlinson both had very serious welcome-to-the-NFL opening games when they were handed the ball 31 and 36 times, respectively.