I’ve posted the Game Scripts data following every week this season, but week six was the first week that no team won with a negative Game Script. That includes New England: even though Tom Brady led a late comeback, finding Kenbrell Thompkins in the back of the end zone to pull out a last-second win, the Patriots posted a Game Script score of +3.6. New England led 17-7 at halftime and for most of the second half; in fact, the Saints only held the lead for about seven minutes of game time. The third closest Game Script in week six comes courtesy of the Kansas City-Oakland matchup, which might surprise any of you who just saw the final 24-7 score. Of course, quirky games like that one is one of the reasons I came up with concept of Game Scripts.
The first score of the game was Terrelle Pryor’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Denarius Moore, with 8:47 left in the second quarter. This means for the first 21.2 minutes, the game was tied. Kansas City answered with a Jamaal Charles touchdown run with 1:12 left in the half, so the Raiders held a 7-point lead for 7.6 minutes. The Chiefs didn’t take their first lead of the game until Charles scored again with 2:07 left in the third, which means the game was tied for another 14.1 minutes. That score held for nearly 15 full minutes: Ryan Succop hit a short field goal with 2:13 left in the game. Pryor then threw a pick six with 1:45 left and the team down by 10, providing the final points in the 24-7 Kansas City victory.
All told, however, the game was tied for 35.3 minutes and the Raiders had a 7-point lead for 7.6 minutes, while the Chiefs led by 7 for 14.9 minutes, by 10 for 0.5 minutes, and by 17 for 1.7 minutes. That’s why the Game Script was just +1.4 for Kansas City, which is a much better reflection of how the game unfolded than the 24-7 final score. The table below shows the Game Scripts data for each contest in week six:
For the second straight week, the Browns posted a 17-0 shutout in the second quarter, but this time, there was no fourth quarter Cleveland magic. The only other even game this week was Seattle/Tennessee, aided by a 10-point swing at the end of the first half: Seattle lined up for a chip shot field goal, but with a backup snapper and holder, botched the attempt, and the Titans returned fumble for a touchdown. Otherwise, though, the Seahawks dominated, particularly on defense: Chris Johnson was held to just 33 yards on 12 carries, while Ryan Fitzpatrick was held to just 2.1 ANY/A.
Thirteen of the 15 Game Scripts victors in week six also posted a more run-oriented pass/run ratio. The two exceptions involved the NFC East. Dallas handled Washington on Sunday Night, but that didn’t stop the Cowboys from throwing on 62% of their plays. Few teams are as committed to the pass as the Cowboys, who had the 2nd strongest passing identity through five weeks, and are probably now number one after this game. Even still, the 62% ratio comes with a bit of an asterisk, as DeMarco Murray went down with an injury in the first half, limiting him to seven carries. But the bigger takeaway is that with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant, Jason Witten, and emerging players like Terrance Williams and Cole Beasley, the Cowboys are going to continue to be in love with the passing game. On the flip side, the Redskins will continue to be a rushing team, as Alfred Morris is quietly having another strong season. Robert Griffin III also rushed nine times, which tends to distort the pass/run ratio.
The Giants and Bears were the other anomaly this week. On the third play of the game, Eli Manning threw an interception that was returned to the Giants 12-yard line. After a goal line stand, Manning threw a pick six, and perhaps Tom Coughlin decided he had seen enough. Over the rest of the game, the Giants called 22 pass plays and 23 runs. Chicago’s 54.7% Pass Ratio is normal for a team with a 6.4 Game Script1 so it’s really the Giants that made this one an outlier. How conservative was New York? The Bills, with an almost identical Game Script of -6.1, passed on 53% of their play… and Buffalo was starting Thad Lewis at quarterback! I can’t fault Coughlin too much for deciding enough was enough — Manning now has 15 interceptions through 6 games — but putting the ball in the hands of Brandon Jacobs is as pretty big indictment on your quarterback, too.
Game Scripts Standings
Don’t forget, you can view the results of every game this season by clicking on the 2013 Game Scripts header at the top of every page (or by clicking here). But this week, I thought it would be interesting to see the season standings according to Game Scripts:
|3||Kansas City Chiefs||6-0||5.7||14.5|
|4||Green Bay Packers||3-2||5.4||4.6|
|6||New Orleans Saints||5-1||4.4||9.7|
|7||New England Patriots||5-1||3.7||4.7|
|8||San Francisco 49ers||4-2||3.5||4.5|
|13||San Diego Chargers||3-3||1.3||1|
|20||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||0-5||-1.1||-7.4|
|26||New York Jets||3-3||-2.7||-5.2|
|27||St. Louis Rams||3-3||-3.1||-2.2|
|30||New York Giants||0-6||-7.2||-17.7|
It’s not too surprising to see the Broncos at #1 and the Chiefs in the top three in Game Scripts. But the Panthers at #2? Well, that does jive with the narrative of them as a team that’s bad in the fourth quarter against good teams and blows out the bad teams. Carolina posted Game Scripts of 16.7 against the Giants and 14.6 in Minnesota, while hovering between -1.4 and 1.0 in their three losses. As for Tampa Bay? The hard luck Bucs are 0-5 with an average Game Script of -1.1; that makes even more sense in light of Aaron Schatz finding them to be the best 0-5 team Football Outsiders has ever graded.
The Giants and Jaguars are 0-6, and pretty deserving of their record. The best Game Script from New York this season was -4 (against Philadelphia), while the Jaguars topped out at -6.7 in St. Louis. On the other side, one team that might be slipping under the radar is Oakland. Sure, the Raiders were obliterated in Denver, but that’s the only real blemish on their record.
A -1.4 Game Script score at undefeated Kansas City is a positive sign, as are the dominant wins against the Chargers and Jaguars. The other two losses were also on the road (Oakland is 2-0 at home, 0-4 on the road this year): against the Colts on opening day, the Raiders held a lead until 5:27 left in the fourth quarter (and got down to the Colts’ 8-yard line at the end of the game). The other loss came in Washington, when the Raiders jumped out to a 14-0 first quarter lead but lost 24-14. Oh, and in case you forgot, Matt Flynn was the quarterback in that game. Under Pryor, the team is 2-0 at home and 0-3 on the road against teams with a combined 16-2 record, and two of those games were extremely competitive. I was very down on the Raiders in the preseason, but I’m all aboard the Terrelle Pryor train. He’s been extremely impressive this season, but the most impressive thing he’s done is become a fan favorite despite being a former Buckeye playing for the Raiders.
For folks who enjoy the average field position data, you can check back for that tomorrow.
- This year, 16 other teams had a Game Script between 5.4 and 7.4, with the average team throwing on 55.2% of all plays. [↩]