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Week Fourteen Game Scripts: Comeback Colts Return

Luck had gone 20 consecutive regular season games without a game-winning drive

Luck had gone 20 consecutive regular season games without a game-winning drive

As a rookie in 2012, Andrew Luck led Indianapolis on a league-high seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter. In 2013, the Colts won games with Game Scripts of -11, -4.6, and -2.8, and Luck recorded four 4th quarter comebacks for the second straight year.

This year? Indianapolis did not have a single victory with a negative Game Script, and Luck did not record a game-winning drive or a 4th quarter comeback, until this past weekend in Cleveland. It’s worth noting that the comeback was in part the result of Luck’s mistakes: the Browns raced out to a 21-7 lead thanks to two Luck turnovers that went for defensive touchdowns. But in the final four minutes, the star quarterback led the Colts on an 11-play, 90-yard drive for the game-winning touchdown.

That was the only big comeback of the week. On the blowout side, the Carolina Panthers — you know, the team that was on a six-game losing streak and had not won a game since October 5th — produced the most dominant performance of the week, finishing with a Game Script of +22.9 in a blowout over New Orleans. The Giants similarly embarrassed the Titans, producing a Game Script of +18.5.

Below are the week 14 Game Scripts data, and three games near the top of the list show the difference between Game Script and points differential.  The Packers had a Game Script of 10.6 but won by only 6 against Atlanta, while St. Louis won by 24 but with a Game Script of only 10.  But the Game Script measures the average points differential throughout the game: Green Bay led Atlanta 31-7 at halftime, while the Rams were up by just six points at the break.  The Broncos led Buffalo 24-3 after three quarters, which led to a Game Script of +9.6, even though Denver wind up winning by only seven points.

TeamH/ROppBoxscorePFPAMarginGame ScriptPassRunP/R RatioOp_POp_ROpp_P/R Ratio
  • The Giants stood out as pass-heavy victor. Despite blowout out of Tennessee from start to finish, New York called 43 passes against just 30 runs. Andre Williams rushed for 131 yards and a score on 24 carries (though one of those was a 50-yard run), so I’m not quite sure what explains New York’s pass-happy nature. One explanation could be that with Rashad Jennings banged up, short, safe passes from Eli Manning was the best way to preserve the lead and also not overwork Williams.
  • Miami and Kansas City stood out for their pass-happy causes in a losing effort. Both teams finished with Game Scripts of around -1.5, which usually results in a pass ratio of about 55-60%. Instead, both the Dolphins and Chiefs passed on just over 70% of their plays. Unfortunately, it didn’t work for either team. Ryan Tannehill was dropped for six sacks, which resulted in him averaging just 4.8 net yards per attempt. Thirty nine dropbacks may be too much for a player like Tannehill, especially since Lamar Miller (53 yards on 12 carries) was not faring poorly against the Ravens. Meanwhile, Alex Smith was better with 6.0 NY/A on his 45 dropbacks, but how does Jamaal Charles end a game with 10 carries for 91 yards? To be fair, Charles did leave the game for a short time with an ankle injury, but it seems odd to see Charles so productive but receive only 10 carries in a Kansas City loss.
  • Two teams were very run-heavy this week, and no, you don’t get credit for guessing that one of them was the Jets. New York is always really run heavy, but add to that cocktail a pick six on Geno Smith‘s first pass, and you get what happened Sunday. New York ran on just 42% of plays, easily the lowest ratio of any losing team in week 14. Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory each received 16 carries, while Smith ran six times (admittedly, some of those plays began as called passes). When we run the final pass identity numbers, the only question is where will the Jets rank historically: Seattle, Dallas, and particularly Houston are very run-heavy teams, but none of those teams can compare to the Jets run-first philosophy after controlling for Game Script. The Jets are 2-11 yet somehow rank 3rd in rushing attempts.1
  • That other run-heavy team this week? The Houston J.J. Watts, err, Texans. Houston beat Jacksonville, but the game was close: Jacksonville led at halftime, and it was a four-point game entering the fourth quarter. But Arian Foster finished with 24 carries, and Ryan Fitzpatrick (who also had eight runs, three of which were kneels) finished with just 21 pass attempts.
  1. In the modern era, no team with 3 or fewer wins has ranked in the top three in rush attempts. The closest comp in recent times would be the 2-14 Chiefs, who ranked 5th in rush attempts in 2012. Of course, I wrote at the time about how crazy an outlier that Kansas City team was in this metric. []
  • Tom

    Besides the STL@WAS game, another game with a big gap between MOV and Game Script was PIT@CIN. Cincy was up 21-17 going into the 4th quarter…and then the Steelers decided to score 25 unanswered points in about 6 minutes. The final MOV was 21; the Game Script 2.3, a difference of 18.7 which is the biggest gap for the week.