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» Scramble for the Ball: Championship Quartets

Blake Bortles. Nick Foles. Case Keenum. Can it get worse than that? Andrew steps out of the way and lets Bryan throw up a dozen tables to try to come to an answer.

11 Dec 2017

Week 14 Quick Reads

by Vincent Verhei

Week 14 in the NFL reminded us of some hard truths about life in professional sports. Your favorite team is always just one key injury away from a ruined season. Playoff berths are never certain until they are clinched. The Browns, until proven otherwise, will always find a way to lose. However, we were also reminded of one of the NFL's happier truths: snow games are always fun. Buffalo's 13-7 overtime win over Indianapolis -- played in such wintry conditions that life became an adventure for players, coaches, officials, fans, and production crews alike -- will be one of the most memorable games of 2017, even if neither team qualifies for the playoffs. It inspired us to go back through the records searching for other memorable snow games, and how players performed in those contests.

This proved to be a bit of a challenge. We had an old list of snow games lying around, dating back to 2001, but that file had not been updated in nearly a decade. We were able to fill in some gaps with data from NFLWeather.com, but we didn't have time to double-check the accuracy there either. So it's possible we have missed a snow game or two somewhere along the way.

To make this even more difficult, it's quite clear that not all snow games are created equal. The weather in this year's Colts-Bills game was much more severe than the last time those two teams played in the snow, in 2009. And sometimes snowfall is so scant that it is barely visible or immediately melts away, such as in last year's game between the Bills and Browns.

Our database gathered info from sources from all over the place, and lists 25 different weather descriptions that include the word "snow." In the interest of full disclosure -- and in a blatant and obvious attempt to pad our word count and create more space for ads -- we now offer that list in its entirety:

     

  • "Clearing throughout game after snow"
  • "Cloudy with snow flurries"
  • "Cloudy, chance of light snow or freezing rain"
  • "Cloudy, cold, snow"
  • "Cloudy, cold, snow expected"
  • "Cloudy, occasional snow"
  • "Cloudy, scattered snow flurries"
  • "Cloudy, intermittent snow showers, temps in low to mid-30s"
  • "Cloudy, lake effect snow possible"
  • "Cold and snowy"
  • "Light snow"
  • "Light snow, winds shifting west"
  • "Mixed rain and snow, windy"
  • "Partly cloudy, chance of snow flurries"
  • "Partly cloudy, windy with strong gusts, chance of snow squalls, wind chill -18"
  • "Possible snow flurries"
  • "Snow"
  • "Snow flurries"
  • "Snow showers"
  • "Snow storm"
  • "Snow, windy, cold"
  • "Snow/fog"
  • "Snowing"
  • "Windy and overcast, intermittent snow flurries"

This means that some of these games, like Colts-Bills, took place in virtual blizzards. Some came with more moderate snowfall. And some were played within 24 hours of when a snowflake or two may have fallen in the vicinity. For all we know, a game might be on this list just because Percy Snow (or Frostee Rucker, or John Friesz) played in it. So take everything you're about to read with a heaping helping of rock salt.

Team Totals

All told, we counted 59 snow games since 2001, including playoffs. Fifty-eight of those games came in Week 11 or later. The one exception was in Week 6 of 2009, when the Titans played the Patriots in New England. (That was a very memorable game, as we shall discuss shortly.) Counting this week's contest, the Bills have hosted 11 of those games, breaking the tie they had held with Green Bay for most home snow games. The Packers are in second place with 10, followed by the Patriots with nine (including three in the playoffs). They are followed by the Steelers and Browns, with seven each; the Bears, with four; the Broncos, with three; the Eagles and Seahawks, with two each; and the Jets, Bengals, Giants, and Vikings, with one each. The Jets and Giants share a stadium, of course. Minnesota's came against Chicago in Week 15 of 2010, the first game they played at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota.

Road snow games, as expected, are far more evenly distributed. Twenty-four teams have played at least one road snow game since 2001. Cleveland has the most with six, followed by New England and Indianapolis with five each; and then the Steelers, Bears, Chargers, and Dolphins have four apiece.

     

Combine those two lists, and you get the Patriots with a league-high 14 snow games, followed by the Bills and Browns with 13 each; the Packers with 12; and the Steelers with 11. This list of teams will be relevant as we discuss individual performances in snow games. Take the Patriots quarterback, for example.

Quarterbacks

You'll find Tom Brady at the top of many all-time quarterback lists, but the gap between him and his peers has never been bigger than it is in snow games. Brady has 306 completions in 460 attempts in the snow, for 3,507 yards and 26 touchdowns. No other quarterback has even three-quarters of any of those numbers. Brady has also been sacked a league-high 24 times, but he has thrown only six interceptions. Four quarterbacks have thrown more picks in snow games. Brady has thrown six touchdowns in the snow twice and also has a five-touchdown game; Eli Manning is the only other quarterback with five touchdowns in a single snow game. Brady has completed 67 percent of his passes in the snow, for 7.6 yards per throw, with a touchdown rate of 5.7 percent and an interception rate of 1.3 percent. Those statistics are all better than Brady's career numbers in the regular season. Brady is unquestionably one of the great passers of all time, and he has somehow played even better when the weather has gotten worse.

Brady is followed in snow passing yardage by Ben Roethlisberger (167-282-2,057-14-7), Brett Favre (180-315-1,718-13-13), Jay Cutler (79-124-941-9-7), and Ryan Fitzpatrick (65-109-722-5-6). That's long-time starters for the Steelers, Packers, Bears, and Bills/Jets, which is no surprise given the list of teams with the most snow games.

There have been 17 300-yard passing games in the snow; Brady has six of them, Roethlisberger has two, and nobody else has more than one. On the single-game list of most passing yards, Brady sits in second, third, and fourth place, but not in first. That honor goes to -- and none of you who weren't watching are going to believe this -- Kelly Holcomb of the Cleveland Browns, who once threw for 429 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even weirder, Steelers quarterback Tommy Maddox threw for 367 yards in the same game, fifth-highest snow total ever. Weirdest of all, that was a playoff game. When you think of great playoff shootouts, Kelly Holcomb and Tommy Maddox are not the names that come to mind, but that's the kind of weird result you get when snow begins to fall.

The worst snow game ever by a quarterback is obvious. In that Titans-Patriots game in 2009, Kerry Collins officially completed 2-of-12 passes with one interception. It's worse than it sounds, because those two completions produced a net loss of seven yards: a gain of 15 to Ahmard Hall, and a loss of 22 to Nate Washington. That was so weird I had to look it up, and to be honest, there's no way this should have counted as a -22-yard catch. It should have gone down as a run-fumble, sack-fumble, or even just an aborted snap. Even if we take that away, though, we're left with one completion to each team for Collins, and that's quite terrible. And you can't just blame it on the snow, because Brady threw for 380 yards and six touchdowns in the same game, a 59-0 New England route. We should also make note of Matthew Stafford, who fumbled five times in 31 official runs and passes in a game in Philadelphia in 2013

Running Backs

LeSean McCoy had 32 carries for 156 yards yesterday, and now leads all player with 598 rushing yards and 760 yards from scrimmage in snow games. Other top rushers include Ahman Green (566), Le'Veon Bell (501), Matt Forte (361), and LaDainian Tomlinson (346). Tomlinson's name is a surprise, but he did play in three snow games, all while on road trips for the Chargers. The yards from scrimmage leaders are basically the same names, with Kevin Faulk (417) replacing Tomlinson.

Bell holds the record with 236 rushing yards in a single snow-game, so McCoy's totals are by no means safe. McCoy, Ricky Williams, Fred Jackson, Reggie Bush, Ryan Grant, and Shaun Alexander also had 200-yard games in the snow. There have been 48 100-yard rushing games in the snow; McCoy and Green lead all players with three apiece.

As for backs who struggled in the snow, we found five players with at least 55 runs who averaged less than 4.0 yards per carry: Antowain Smith (107 carries, 340 yards) Willie Parker (84-330), Willis McGahee (75-206), Corey Dillon (71-264), and Travis Henry (55-197).

Wide Receivers

Not surprisingly, these lists are dominated by New England. Five of the top seven players by receptions, and six of the top ten by receiving yards, are Patriots. Hines Ward leads all players with 45 catches, followed by Deion Branch (39), Wes Welker (35), Troy Brown (34), and Kevin Johnson (30). Johnson needs an asterisk -- he played 32 games for Cleveland in 1999 and 2000, which were not included in this study, and he likely had a handful of snow-game catches that are not being counted here. The yardage leaderboard looks much the same. Branch (595) is in first place, followed by Ward (546), Johnson (456), Welker (430), and Antonio Brown (413).

The recently reinstated Josh Gordon once caught 14 balls for 237 yards in the snow, both the highest marks on record. Nobody else has ever caught more than 11 passes, or gained more than 151 yards. Twenty-five times, a player has caught at least eight passes in the snow; Ward, Welker, and Randy Moss are the only players to do it twice. There have been 29 100-yard snowbound receiving games. Ward is the only player with three 100; Brown, Branch, Welker, and Moss have two each.

In fact, let's talk about Randy Moss for a second. He had 20 catches in the snow, which didn't make the top ten. Those catches gained 344 yards, which didn't make the top five. But he had eight touchdown catches, twice as many as anyone else. And he did it all in 31 targets -- that's a 65 percent catch rate, 17.2 yards per catch, and one touchdown every 3.9 passes. And that's not even counting the first three years of his career, when he was making annual trips to Green Bay and Chicago. If it was difficult to cover Moss in good weather, then covering him in the snow was practically impossible.

That is definitely not true for everyone. Donald Driver had 61 snow-game targets, more than anyone except Ward (73). But he only caught 27 of those balls, a 44 percent catch rate, for 384 yards. Other receivers who had bad snow-game stats include Lee Evans (47-25-286), David Givens (44-28-294), Greg Jennings (33-19-208), and Eric Moulds (33-13-213).

There's really not much to say about snow games and tight ends. Bubba Franks leads all tight ends with just 28 targets and 20 catches. Even Rob Gronkowski has only 23 targets, with 15 catches for 185 yards. This might suggest that teams are prone to use fewer spread formations in snow games than they would otherwise, though obviously we would need to do a lot more study to draw any further conclusions on that subject.

We have never had the time to implement proper weather adjustments into our individual DVOA and DYAR calculations, which means players like Jacoby Brissett and Nathan Peterman are going to be treated pretty unfairly in the following tables. It's one of those areas where we have to ask readers to use a little common sense when evaluating our numbers.

Quarterbacks
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
1.
Ben Roethlisberger PIT
44/64
506
2
0
3
304
302
2
BAL
This is now the best game a quarterback has had this season, surpassing Tom Brady's game against New Orleans in Week 2. That is largely due to opponent adjustments; Roethlisberger's value would have topped out just below 200 DYAR if we had not factored in that he was playing the Ravens, who had been the league's best overall defense coming into the week. It also helps that he had 69 dropbacks (including two DPIs) -- DYAR is a counting stat, and more plays means more opportunity to rack up value. Given all that action, it's hard to narrow down a specific split where Roethlisberger was perfect, but he did have a big day on third downs, going 9-of-14 for 173 yards and eight conversions.
2.
Carson Wentz PHI
23/41
291
4
1
1
188
184
4
LARM
Wentz had a busy day too, with 44 dropbacks despite missing the entire fourth quarter (and, we now know, the rest of the year). He was tremendous in the red zone, going 6-of-10 for 49 yards and all four touchdowns, plus a 13-yard DPI. Jacoby Brissett has started a dozen games for Indianapolis and he only has four red zone touchdown passes all season.
3.
Philip Rivers LACH
18/31
319
2
0
2
144
144
0
WAS
Rivers might have ranked even higher this week, but with the Chargers blowing Washington out, he was pulled for Kellen Clemens early in the fourth quarter. He completed all five of his deep passes, gaining 201 yards and a touchdown in the process.
4.
Blake Bortles JAC
18/27
268
2
0
0
131
138
-7
SEA
Bortles led the league in third-quarter DYAR this week, and he did it on only four passes: a 5-yard gain on first-and-10; a 13-yard gain on first-and-10; an 18-yard touchdown to Dede Westbrook; and a 75-yard touchdown to Keelan Cole.
5.
Dak Prescott DAL
20/30
332
3
0
0
115
119
-4
NYG
The Cowboys won this game by 20 points, but the final score was deceptive. The score was tied at 10 when the Giants took over with nine minutes and change left in the fourth quarter. From that point forward, Prescott threw four passes: a 3-yard gain on first-and-10; a 54-yard gain on third-and-2; a 20-yard touchdown to Jason Witten; and an 81-yard touchdown on third-and-3 to Rod Smith. More on him later.
6.
Russell Wilson SEA
18/31
271
3
3
2
110
92
18
JAC
And here is where we get into opponent adjustments. Wilson only had 27 DYAR without them. But he is the first quarterback this year to throw three touchdowns against Jacksonville, and his 61- and 74-yard touchdown passes in this game are the two longest passing plays the Jaguars have surrendered all season. Wilson averaged 7.6 yards per dropback, the best any quarterback has fared against the Jaguars, and that's not even counting his five carries for 50 yards. His three interceptions certainly weren't good plays, but they gained 25, 43, and 59 yards in field position, so they weren't killers either. It must be said that Wilson did very little as a passer aside from his three touchdowns, which produced 59 percent of his total passing yardage and half of his six first downs.
7.
Mitchell Trubisky CHI
25/31
271
1
0
2
101
92
9
CIN
I don't know how many people were watching the Bears and Bengals, but those who tuned in saw the best game of Trubisky's young career. He really turned it on with about 10 minutes to go in the third quarter. At that point, Chicago was clinging to a 12-7 lead. But on the Bears' final five drives, he went 7-of-8 for 91 yards and a touchdown, plus a DPI for 1 more yard and another first down.
8.
Joe Flacco BAL
20/34
269
2
1
1
90
90
0
PIT
Flacco came into this game with 95 failed completions, 13 more than any other quarterback, but he cut way back on checkdowns and unleashed the deep ball against the Steelers. On throws that traveled more than 15 yards beyond the line of scrimmage, Flacco went 4-of-9 for 107 yards and a touchdown, with two more deep balls resulting in DPIs for 20 and 31 yards.
9.
Jay Cutler MIA
25/38
263
3
0
2
90
85
5
NE
10.
Matthew Stafford DET
36/44
381
1
2
0
82
82
0
TB
Stafford loses 55 DYAR to opponent adjustments, second-most among starters this week. He completed each of his first 12 passes, gaining 136 yards in the process. He had three other streaks of four or more straight completions throughout the game.
11.
Jimmy Garoppolo SF
20/32
334
1
1
2
78
88
-9
HOU
Third-down passing: 4-of-8 for 82 yards, plus a 27-yard DPI and an 11-yard sack, with only three conversions in ten plays.
12.
Jared Goff LARM
16/26
203
2
0
2
73
75
-1
PHI
First half: 8-of-17, 118 yards, only three first downs, one sack. Second half: 8-of-9, 85 yards, one DPI for 7 more yards, seven first downs, one sack.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
13.
Brett Hundley GB
35/46
265
3
0
1
56
46
10
CLE
Hundley loses 61 DYAR due to opponent adjustments, most of any quarterback this week. He threw 11 failed completions, most of any quarterback this week, and most in a game since Joe Flacco had 14 in Week 11.
14.
Drew Brees NO
26/35
271
2
1
2
51
49
2
ATL
As you may know, this game ended on a Brees red zone interception, but that was not his only bad play in that part of the field. Inside the Atlanta 20, he went 3-of-6 for -3 yards (not a typo) with one touchdown and that pick.
15.
Jameis Winston TB
26/38
286
2
2
3
42
39
3
DET
Winston's problems were based entirely on turnovers -- two interceptions and one fumble on a sack. Take away all plays involving fumbles or interceptions from all quarterbacks this week, and Winston jumps from 15th place to fourth. All three of his turnovers came on second down with 6 to 9 yards to go, which means they didn't just wipe out the second-down play, but also cost Tampa Bay a chance a third down with a reasonable shot at a conversion.
16.
T.J. Yates HOU
14/26
175
2
0
1
41
34
7
SF
Yates had a remarkable stretch between the second and third quarters where he completed nine passes in a row, plus a DPI on a tenth throw, for 137 yards and nine first downs. Then he remembered he is T.J. Yates and threw six incompletions in a row. His streakiness rating (percentage of passes that were either back-to-back successes or back-to-back failures) was 74 percent.
17.
DeShone Kizer CLE
20/28
214
3
2
2
14
12
3
GB
It's too little, too late to save the Browns' season, and in all likelihood to keep his starting job next year, but Kizer has quietly been improving lately. At the end of Week 11 he was last in the league with -753 DYAR; nobody else was even at -500. In the three weeks since, however, Kizer has been hovering around replacement level, with 24 DYAR against the Bengals, Chargers, and Packers. It's not much, but at least it's positive. He even had a good day in the red zone against Green Bay, going 3-of-4 for 27 yards and three touchdowns. Coming into the game, his red zone resume included four touchdown passes and seven turnovers.
18.
Trevor Siemian DEN
19/31
200
1
0
2
11
6
5
NYJ
Denver's top offseason priority is finding a quarterback, but they could also use a talent infusion at tight end. Broncos tight ends have only 20 catches this year. In this game, Siemian threw only two passes to his tight ends: a 5-yard gain on second-and-11 and an incompletion on first-and-10.
19.
Case Keenum MIN
27/44
280
2
2
6
6
-12
18
CAR
Coming into the week, Keenum led all quarterbacks with a 34.3% passing DVOA. However, he had rarely needed to rally his team late (only 46 pass plays when trailing in the fourth quarter, not even in the top 30 among quarterbacks). And when he has been in those situations, he has struggled, with a -15.0% DVOA. Against Carolina, all but two of Keenum's passes came with a deficit. And in the fourth quarter, he went 10-of-16 for 131 yards and a touchdown. That doesn't sound bad, but Keenum also threw an interception and was sacked three times, and only three of those completions produced first downs.
20.
Tom Brady NE
24/43
233
1
2
2
5
5
0
MIA
21.
Nathan Peterman BUF
5/9
57
1
0
0
-4
15
-19
IND
Buffalo's scheme was so run-heavy (understandable, all things considered) that Peterman threw only one pass on first down, his 8-yard touchdown to Kelvin Benjamin at the end of the first half.
22.
A.J. McCarron CIN
4/8
47
0
0
1
-6
-6
0
CHI
All of McCarron's passes came with Cincinnati down by 26 points in the fourth quarter. His 47 yards passing included zero yards through the air, 47 yards after the catch. No, that is not a typo.
Rk
Player
Team
CP/AT
Yds
TD
INT
Sacks
Total
DYAR
Pass
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Opp
23.
Nick Foles PHI
6/10
42
0
0
1
-8
-5
-3
LARM
Foles "led" a comeback win by picking up three first downs in his 11 dropbacks. Eight of his ten passes were thrown to receivers within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.
24.
Cam Newton CAR
13/25
137
1
1
2
-17
-20
3
MIN
How do you run eight times for 75 yards and finish with just 3 rushing DYAR? 1) 62 of those yards came on one play, which was Newton's only first down on the ground. 2) That means Newton averaged only 1.9 yards on his other seven runs. 3) Three of those runs went for no gain or a loss. 4) Two of THOSE were failed plays on first-and-goal from the 5 and third-and-2, and DYAR punishes failed short-yardage runs severely because the stakes and baseline conversion rates are both very high.
25.
Bryce Petty NYJ
2/9
14
0
0
0
-25
-29
4
DEN
Most of Petty's passes came with the Jets down by 20 points in the second half. Petty did not complete a pass for a first down, despite getting four tries with 4 yards or less to go. He did pick up a first down on an 11-yard DPI.
26.
Derek Carr OAK
24/41
211
1
2
3
-26
-26
0
KC
Carr was next-to-last in passing DYAR in the first three quarters this week, but second in fourth-quarter DYAR. In the first three quarters, he went 11-of-23 for 69 yards with an 18-yard DPI, an interception, and three sacks. In the fourth quarter -- a quarter in which Oakland never got closer than 11 points -- he went 13-of-18 for 142 yards, plus an 11-yard DPI. He did throw an interception in the final minute of the game, but we count that as a Hail Mary so as not to torpedo his DYAR on a meaningless play.
27.
Eli Manning NYG
31/46
228
1
2
0
-28
-28
0
DAL
Remember what we said about this game in Dak Prescott's comment? From the point the Cowboys took a 17-10 lead in the fourth quarter, Manning went 10-of-15 for just 55 yards with two interceptions.
28.
Kirk Cousins WAS
15/27
151
1
1
2
-33
-27
-6
LACH
On the first drive of the second quarter, Cousins went 3-of-4 for 66 yards and a touchdown -- which means he had 85 yards and two interceptions on his other 23 passes.
29.
Jacoby Brissett IND
12/21
69
1
0
1
-35
-35
0
BUF
Brissett did not throw a pass in the first quarter, and had only two plays (an 11-yard completion and a 10-yard loss on an intentional grounding) in the second. On third downs, he went 3-of-6 for 26 yards and two conversions. He also went 1-of-2 for 10 yards and one conversion on fourth down.
30.
Alex Smith KC
20/34
268
0
1
4
-38
-44
6
OAK
Smith joines Paxton Lynch as the only quarterbacks to throw an interception against the Raiders this year. However, he "only" loses 47 DYAR to opponent adjusments, because he only threw 34 passes. He was dreadful in scoring range. Inside the Oakland 40, he went 5-of-14 for 44 yards with no touchdowns, the one interception, and two sacks.
31.
Tom Savage HOU
7/12
63
0
0
2
-50
-50
0
SF
Savage's first pass came on first down, but he never threw on first down again. His last six plays were a sack and five incompletions, though two of those incompletions came after his concussion when he never should have been on the field.
32.
Matt Ryan ATL
15/27
221
1
3
1
-51
-48
-3
NO
Starting with his last pass of the first half, Ryan had three interceptions in four throws. All three interceptions came on throws to receivers within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage. On throws to receivers 10 to 21 yards downfield, Ryan went 7-of-9 for 116 yards, with every completion picking up a first down.
33.
Andy Dalton CIN
14/29
141
1
1
2
-59
-59
0
CHI
Dalton converted his first third-down play against the Bears, but didn't convert another one after that. On third and fourth down, he went 3-of-9 for 35 yards and an interception.
34.
Joe Webb BUF
2/6
35
0
1
0
-59
-63
4
IND
Webb qualifies for our table because in addition to his six pass plays, he had four carries for 28 yards, including two third-down conversions. He went 0-for-4 with a pick in regulation, but in overtime had a 1-yard completion to Charles Clay and a 34-yarder to Deonte Thompson.
35.
Blaine Gabbert ARI
17/26
178
0
0
8
-69
-71
2
TEN
Inside the Tennessee 40, Gabbert went 4-of-6 for 29 yards with one first down and three sacks. On third downs, he went 4-of-9 for 43 yards, with more sacks (four) than conversions (three).
36.
Marcus Mariota TEN
16/31
159
0
2
3
-78
-85
8
ARI
Man, a lot of quarterbacks qualified this week. The Titans were actually ahead in this game for a long time, but once the Cardinals took the lead, Mariota did little to retake it. His first pass after falling behind in the fourth quarter was intercepted, and after that he went 2-of-9 for 12 yards and a sack.
37.
Josh McCown NYJ
6/12
46
0
1
4
-120
-126
7
DEN
By all accounts McCown is a really nice guy, and with his season over due to a broken hand, I feel bad for kicking him when he's down. But the fact is that in his last game this year McCown looked a lot more like the quarterback he has been for 15 years now then the quarterback he has been in 2017. His only first down was a 13-yard gain on second-and-8 that was actually caught behind the line of scrimmage and then gained 14 yards after the catch. He only threw one pass in Denver territory; it was intercepted. He did not convert a single third down, going 1-of-4 for 1 yard with a sack-fumble.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Rod Smith DAL
6
47
1
5/5
113
1
72
27
45
NYG
The most common reactions to seeing Rod Smith's name atop the running back rankings would be to ask "Who?" or to think "I thought he played for the Broncos, and retired 11 years ago." This Rod Smith was a little-used running back in college, with only 643 yards from scrimmage in four years at Ohio State, and only 15 in his first two NFL seasons in Seattle and Dallas. He has seen a little more action this year, even getting a start in Week 11 against Philadelphia, but when he only gained 11 yards in eight carries in that game, it seemed like his shot at being a significant player had come and gone. Then came Sunday, when Smith made the absolute most of his limited action. Each of his six carries gained at least 2 yards, five were successful plays, and two of them gained 15 yards. His catches resulted in three third-down conversions, the longest of them an 81-yard touchdown on third-and-3.
2.
Todd Gurley LARM
13
96
2
3/5
39
0
67
62
5
PHI
Only two of Gurley's runs lost yardage, but six went for first downs, including gains of 17, 21, and 30 yards. He also had a 20-yard reception.
3.
Le'Veon Bell PIT
13
48
2
9/10
77
1
65
31
34
BAL
Bell only averaged 3.7 yards per carry against the Ravens, and his longest run gained just 11 yards. But 12 of his 13 runs gained positive yardage, and he had five first downs on the ground, converting every one of the carries he had with 3 yards or less to go for a first down. Eight of his nine catches were successful plays, including a 20-yard touchdown and a 12-yard gain on third-and-2.
4.
Alex Collins BAL
18
120
1
2/2
46
0
55
53
3
PIT
Collins might have ranked even higher this week, but he fumbled on one of his receptions. Only two of his carries against Pittsburgh failed to gain positive yardage. He had six first downs on the ground, including gains of 17, 18, and 21 yards.
5.
Jamaal Williams GB
15
49
1
7/7
69
1
54
18
36
CLE
Williams gets a big boost in rushing DYAR because Cleveland's rush defense is awesome, but then he takes a hit in receiving DYAR because the Browns can't cover running backs. He was hit for no gain or a loss five times and only had three first downs on the ground, and his longest run gained only 12 yards. Six of his seven catches were successful plays, including a 30-yard touchdown and three other first downs.


Five Best Running Backs by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Todd Gurley LARM
13
96
2
3/5
39
0
67
62
5
PHI
2.
Jordan Howard CHI
23
147
2
1/2
8
0
54
56
-3
CIN
Though he was hit five times for no gain or a loss, Howard ran for nine first downs against Cincinnati, with seven runs of 10 yards or more.
3.
Alex Collins BAL
18
120
1
2/2
46
0
55
53
3
PIT
4.
Jonathan Stewart CAR
16
103
3
0/1
0
0
45
48
-3
MIN
Stewart entered the week last in rushing DYAR by a wide margin. After becoming the first player this year to run for 100 yards against Minnesota, he's now sixth-worst. Three touchdowns speak for themselves (especially the 60-yarder, Stewart's longest run since the 2014 season) and he was hit for no gain or a loss just three times.
5.
Leonard Fournette JAC
24
101
1
4/6
18
0
36
42
-6
SEA
Five hits for no gain or a loss, but six first downs on the ground, including three big plays as Jacksonville was protecting a second-half lead: a 15-yard gain on first-and-15; a 14-yard gain on second-and-10; and a 13-yard gain on third-and-11 to put the game away.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Total)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Samaje Perine WAS
17
45
0
4/4
7
0
-51
-37
-14
LACH
Perine eventually left this game with an unnamed stomach ailment, and based on the numbers, he may have been playing sick all day. His longest run, a 10-yarder, was his only first down of the day. He was hit for no gain or a loss four times, including failures to convert on second- and third-and-2. His only successful catch was a 6-yard gain on second-and-9 -- which means his other three catches gained a total of 1 yard.


Worst Running Back by DYAR (Rushing)
Rk
Player
Team
Runs
Rush
Yds
Rush
TD
Rec
Rec
Yds
Rec
TD
Total
DYAR
Rush
DYAR
Rec
DYAR
Opp
1.
Samaje Perine WAS
17
45
0
4/4
7
0
-51
-37
-14
LACH


Five Best Wide Receivers and Tight Ends by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Tyrell Williams LACH
4
4
132
33.0
1
64
WAS
His four catches: 34-yard gain on first-and-10; 3-yard gain on third-and-1; 75-yard touchdown; 20-yard gain on first-and-10.
2.
Cooper Kupp LARM
5
7
118
23.6
1
50
PHI
Only one of Kupp's catches failed to produce a first down; it was a 7-yard gain on second-and-10. He had two huge third-down conversions, a 64-yard gain on third-and-10, and a 6-yard touchdown on third-and-5.
3.
Keelan Cole JAC
3
3
99
33.0
1
49
SEA
His three catches: a 10-yard gain on second-and-6; a 75-yard touchdown; and a 14-yard gain on third-and-5.
4.
Tyler Lockett SEA
4
5
90
22.5
1
47
JAC
Lockett's DYAR totals include 39.7 receiving DYAR, 7.7 rushing DYAR for his one carry for 10 yards. This was the second-most yards gained by a wide receiver against Jacksonville this year, behind Antonio Brown's 157 yards on 19 targets when the Steelers suffered a 30-9 blowout loss. Lockett's 75-yard touchdown was obviously his biggest play.
5.
Michael Thomas NO
10
14
117
11.7
1
46
ATL
Nine of Thomas' receptions produced first downs, including three third-down conversions. That includes a 22-yard gain on third-and-6 and a touchdown on third-and-goal from the 1.


Worst Wide Receiver or Tight End by DYAR
Rk
Player
Team
Rec
Att
Yds
Avg
TD
Total
DYAR
Opp
1.
Jeremy Maclin BAL
3
11
27
9.0
0
-52
PIT
Only one of Maclin's catches produced a first down, a 19-yard gain on second-and-1. One of them lost yardage. He had six targets with 7 yards or less to go for a first down and only converted one of them.

Posted by: Vincent Verhei on 11 Dec 2017

44 comments, Last at 13 Dec 2017, 11:53am by BJR

Comments

1
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:59am

Keenum has really benefited from not being predictable, and playing with the lead and having an efficient running game, has helped with doing so. That went away this Sunday, with the Vikings having 4 linemen starting at positions which had different starters at the beginning of the season, until the injury bug bit again

2
by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:24am

There's snow, and then there's snow.

That said, you get two kinds of significant snow games.

Blizzard games like Bills-Colts or Lions-Eagles where the snowfall is so significant than normal football plays become impossible, and you're happy you can just tell where the sidelines are.

And then you get howlers like the Bears-Saints NFC championship game or the Lions-Vikings playoff game where Sanders had -10 yards rushing, where the accumulation isn't very significant, but the game is played on a sheet of ice.

Both of those significantly affect how the game is played. Games played in flurries aren't quite the same. That's just slow, white drizzle.

That Lions-Eagles game was fun. There were 8 fumbles. There were 2 forced fumbles. I seem to recall that a lot of them came on bad snaps, too.

3
by drobviousso :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:45am

Where did AB end up on the list? My eyes said he had a better night than Bell, so it is interesting that the numbers say different (at least ordinally)

4
by jtr :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:54am

How did Antonio Brown's 11-18 for 213 against a tough pass D not make the top five this week? That has to be a mistake, right?

6
by Aaron Schatz :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:20am

Brown was 14th with 31 DYAR. No touchdowns, and the 11 catches were out of 18 targets.

5
by aces4me :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:00am

Brady has what looks to me like a cover your eyes terrible game and it turns out to be replacement level. I'm really not looking forward to the Pats actually having a replacement level quarter back.

12
by bravehoptoad :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:18pm

Yeah, great QBing every Sunday will really warp your perceptions. Try 18 years of Montana-Young, then you're watching Jeff Garcia and Tim Rattay. Yeesh.

35
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 7:03pm

I am curious how many Packers fans disappear once Rodgers retires. Packers fans have been incredibly spoiled going from Favre to Rodgers. At least it will be easier to get tickets to Lambeau.

16
by James-London :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:10pm

Brady's 7-9 in his career against Miami, which given how bad Miami have been for most of it I find astonishing.
No wonder he wrote the HoF endorsement letter for Jason Taylor

Phil Simms is a Cretin.

23
by blan :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 3:59pm

That's his record in Miami. Overall he's 21-10. That's still a lower winner percentage than Brady has against other teams (.677 vs .778) so your point somewhat stands.

I think the cause of this discrepancy is that the Dolphins design their team with the goal of beating Brady and the Patriots head-to-head. The blueprint to beat Brady is well known: Generate pressure with four (especially interior pressure), play press man on the outside, and hope that Gronk isn't playing. So that's why the Dolphins overpaid for someone like Suh who can help generate interior pressure.

24
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 4:06pm

I'm not a fan of these kinds of arguments. Is that blueprint somehow different than defending other qbs? In fact, don't the Jets and Bills try to build to stop the Patriots? What about the Steelers? Hell, why aren't most teams building to stop New England?

And I don't think the dolphins have always played press man nor that its necessary to defend Brady? In fact, the jets employed a blitz heavy zone scheme under Ryan and later Bowles. The ravens have also traditionally been a zone team too. The Seahawks have defended New England successfully with a cover 3 scheme and then a very aggressive press man scheme.

If there is a style that works against New England that seems plausible without just needing great talent; its one that clouds the middle of the field, tackles effectively in space and has a generally cohesive secondary and linebackers that know how to pass off their tight ends from the los to down the seams.

26
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 4:26pm

Yeah, I'm with you 100%. Generating pressure with four guys and paying press man works against pretty much anyone if you can do it.

Sure, some QBs are bad when blitzed, but still if you can get consistent pressure with four that works better than anything.

Given how good NE has been, building a team to beat them seems like a pretty sound strategy to beat most teams.

You are also right about press-man not always being the best way to beat him. The examples you mentioned are spot on. Even the Giants employed a decemnt amount of zone behind their front-four in Super Bowl XLII.

29
by blan :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:02pm


Is that blueprint somehow different than defending other qbs?

Yes. Different quarterbacks have different strengths and weaknesses. Brady's strengths are determining where the open man will be in a zone scheme or during a blitz as well as mobility within the pocket. If you think you need to do the same things to beat a team quarterbacked by Russel Wilson or Cam Newton as Tom Brady, you don't watch much football.


In fact, don't the Jets and Bills try to build to stop the Patriots?

No. As you point out the Jets and Bills under Ryan employed a blitz heavy zone scheme. Brady's winning percentage against Rex is .800.


What about the Steelers?

No. Brady's strengths are particularly suited to Dick LeBeau's zone blitz scheme that the Steelers have been running for a long time. Brady's winning percentage is .777 against the Steelers which matches his winning percentage against the rest of the league even though the Steelers have been the second or third best team during Brady's career. In at least one of those two losses for the Patriots, the Steelers played more man concepts (I think both, but my memory of games from 13 years ago is not great).
https://247sports.com/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers/Bolt/Mike-Tomlin-Steelers-...


Hell, why aren't most teams building to stop New England?

My other post hinted at the answer to this question. Designing your team to beat New England can lead to deficiencies that other teams can exploit.

To address your other points: Yeah, great players can play great defense and stifle Brady and the Patriots using other schemes. But the original question was why given an overall poor record have the Dolphins played better against Brady and the Patriots than other teams.

30
by blan :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:10pm

Meant to link this page: https://247sports.com/nfl/pittsburgh-steelers/Bolt/Mike-Tomlin-Steelers-...

Although the other page is also relevant.

39
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:28pm

Do you really different players to rush the passer or play press coverage when it's Brady or Wilson? If so, explain which players work well against Brady but would be subpar vs Wilson?

34
by Anon Ymous :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 7:00pm

I dislike "blueprint" and "built to stop" stuff, but it is true that Miami's style of defense has historically been a style that bothers Brady and Pitt's approach has played into Tom's hands. It's no accident that the only time Pitt held Brady under 20 was in 2011 when they ditched the zone and just played man the whole game. By way of comparison, the other totals were 30, 20, 34, 23, 34, 39, 55, 28, 27 and 36.

36
by blan :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:35pm

So you dislike the words that I'm using, but you seem agree with my underlying points? I'm kind of unsure what the disagreement is here.

I guess you believe the Dolphins chose a style of defense that bothers Brady for reasons unrelated to Brady and the Pats. That's certainly possible.

37
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 8:46pm

I think the only exception to this is the Steelers, who have a defense that seems to work against a lot of teams, but struggles against New England.

Of course, a lot of great QBs have had continued success against the Steelers in the 3-4 defense era, beyond just Brady.

28
by turbohappy :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 4:39pm

Yeah, Peyton Manning to Curtis Painter was abysmal for me. He wasn't even replacement level but still. Whoa.

7
by SandyRiver :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:21am

My favorite snow-game memory is Giants @ Wash, 12/11/1960, as 8" of powder fell. It's the only time I've seen players digging in snow piles for a fumble. The box score looks wonky (QB Conerly, 3 rushes for -16, not sacks?), but Wash QBs were 0-for-7 with 2 picks (one a pick-6) and a 6-yard sack, and the 2 teams combined for 30 net passing yards (assuming Conerly's "rushes" were sacks) in 21 dropbacks. Combined total yards were just over 150, Giants having only 52 in a 17-3 win.

8
by Otis Taylor89 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:51am

OJ Simpson, in back to back snow games at the end of the 1973 season, went:
22/219 1 TD vs NE
34/200 1 TD at NYJ

9
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 11:55am

After Favre broke his thumb in 1999 and didn't let it heal properly his effectiveness in bad/cold weather dropped significantly. Where previously his big hands allowed him to handle a slick ball pretty easily the injury hurt his ability to squeeze the ball which created all kinds of accuracy problems. That and his hand just flat out hurt in cold weather which had to impact his performance.

10
by Will Allen :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:00pm

Pre 99 Favre, throwing lightningbolts through the frigid gales of November, December, and January, was really, really, entertaining.

11
by BJR :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:06pm

I realise this is nitpicking, but Carr's final interception was not a Hail Mary by any standard definition of the phrase. Yes it was a deep shot in a desperate situation, but to a specifically targeted receiver running a normal route, who got both hands on the ball. Nor was the play meaningless; had it been caught it would likely have been a TD, which would have left Oakland with 40 seconds + a timeout, needing a 2 pt conversion, an onside kick recovery and a field goal to tie. A long shot, but not utterly hopeless.

Again sorry to nitpick, but I believe I am right in saying there is no chance the play would have been thrown out had the pass been completed?

(Ironically it was one of Carr's best passes of the day, and was only intercepted after it deflected off the receiver's hands. So punishing Carr would have been unjust. But the metrics are probably best left without these subjective distinctions).

13
by LyleNM :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:57pm

The point is that at that point of the game, there is very little distinction between an interception and a regular incompletion since the QB is trying to make something happen, so for baseline purposes it is more appropriate (for DYAR purposes) to treat it as an incompletion.

15
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 1:00pm

I see your point, but that's a slippery slope

14
by justanothersteve :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 12:58pm

My favorite snow bowl game was Buccs/Packers 1985. The snow dumped 13.6" on Green Bay that Thanksgiving weekend which was more than enough to mess with traffic and the stadium. Most was before the game, but it continued to snow off-and-on through the game plus the blowing snow often made it difficult for anyone to see anything. Packers won 21-0 with both Packers RBs, Eddie Lee Ivory and Garry Ellis, running for over 100 yards. Packers QB Lynn Dickey's stat line was 22/36, 299 yds, 0 TD, 2 INT. The Buccs had 107 yards on offense total in what was likely the nadir of Steve Young's time in Tampa.

19
by big10freak :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:14pm

Good one.

It wasn't a true snow game in that the snow did not start to fall until mid 4th quarter but seeing the Packers/Steelers last game of the 1995 season finish with a light snow falling was wonderful. Helped along by the Thigpen Drop of course.

That game had the ferocity of the Steelers/Bengals game without the cheap shots. Both teams were beating the snot out of each other.

20
by DisplacedPackerFan :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:34pm

That was a great game. I miss having a defense that can beat the snot out of someone.... I really enjoyed those Fritz Shurmur defenses.

32
by NYChem :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:52pm

where are the Lions fans to comment about the fix being in? That drop by Yancey was tough on the Barry Sanders crowd, and then Cowher rubbed it in...
Speaking of snow games, my least favorite is the Dolphins/Steelers game of 2013, when Ryan Tannehill looked like the offspring of Dan Marino and an Inuit. Which sounds more insensitive than I mean it to sound. Just saying, he played well. In the snow. I know he won't show up here, since that was probably the only snow game of his career, but it led directly to the steelers needing the chiefs to knock off the Chargers in Week 17 only to blow the most makeable of field goals to keep the Steelers out, which was sheer karma blowback hell for the Yancey drop of '97.

41
by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 6:18am

In retrospect, the Lions winning or not winning the NFC North wouldn’t have made a difference, because Scott Mitchell would have still found a way to crap the bed in the playoffs.

42
by nuclearbdgr :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 9:23am

This is always the game I think of in terms of regular season snow games. The entire Tampa team just looked miserable, whether on the sidelines or on the field.

17
by Israel P. - Jer... :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:05pm

My favorite snow moment was Jerome Bettis snowplowing Brian Urlacher.

21
by jschroe36 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 3:08pm

The Bus was a beast in the snow. The snow article above only encompasses 2001-present but Bettis had 100+ rushing in the snow in 1997 at home against Cincy (11-16-97); 137 in a blizzard against Carolina in '99 (12-26-99); and of course the Bears game in 2005 (12-11-05)

18
by Sixknots :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 2:12pm

The Seahawks' two home snow games would have happened since 2000 and were likely of the "Cloudy, chance of light snow or freezing rain" sort.

22
by dank067 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 3:27pm

GB/SEA in 2006 was actually a legitimate snow game up in Seattle. Looking back at the photos, I doubt more than an inch accumulated overall, but the field was blanketed in white.

Watched it with a friend of mine who is a Seahawks fan, and we always recall this game because it was a Monday nighter and this was back when they were inviting "special guests" into the booth. That week it was Jimmy Kimmel and he completely de-railed the broadcast, including with the line, "Brett Favre, in the snow? John Madden would have loved this if he were still alive."

33
by Sixknots :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 6:28pm

Yeah, forgot about that one.

25
by theslothook :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 4:09pm

I think Blake Bortles recent upswing in play is a prime example of what a good team around you can do. Don't misunderstand me, I personally think he is playing better, but that seems to be because he knows he doesn't have to play well for the Jags to win.

Does anyone else expect him to turn back into a pumpkin next year? In fact, it wouldn't even require a complete collapse from the defense. Even a 25 percent decline would be enough to send him back to being the Bortles we all know. Someone will pay him in the offseason and he will be a grenade to whoever does.

27
by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 4:29pm

I'm so interested in what Jacksonville does at QB. I hope they realize Bortles is not a good long term answer. Even is relatively good season this year is league average or so.

If they can get an improvement at QB that could be a really strong team. I would expect some defensive regression next year, so that QB improvement will be necessary as well.

38
by herewegobrownie... :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 9:08pm

Still think there's a good chance Eli is the bridge next year and a QB not named Rosen or Mayfield the starter following year.

31
by Vincent Verhei :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 5:28pm

Where did AB end up on the list? My eyes said he had a better night than Bell, so it is interesting that the numbers say different (at least ordinally)

Aaron already answered this, but 11 catches in 18 targets is not an especially good rate. It would take a lot of big catches to make that one of the top games in a given week.

I realise this is nitpicking, but Carr's final interception was not a Hail Mary by any standard definition of the phrase. Yes it was a deep shot in a desperate situation, but to a specifically targeted receiver running a normal route, who got both hands on the ball. Nor was the play meaningless; had it been caught it would likely have been a TD, which would have left Oakland with 40 seconds + a timeout, needing a 2 pt conversion, an onside kick recovery and a field goal to tie. A long shot, but not utterly hopeless.

Again sorry to nitpick, but I believe I am right in saying there is no chance the play would have been thrown out had the pass been completed?

I'm sorry, let me clarify. The play was not thrown out. It was counted as a regular incomplete pass, not an interception. There's definitely some gray area here, but we will occasionally count desperation plays as Hail Marys even when they technically aren't.

The Seahawks' two home snow games would have happened since 2000 and were likely of the "Cloudy, chance of light snow or freezing rain" sort.

Ahem. I will always remember this game because my typical 20-minute commute home from my job at the time took several hours instead. People were just abandoning their cars on the freeway and walking home instead. And yes, this is mostly because Seattle is full of incompetent people who are incapable of handling a motor vehicle in good conditions, and they panic and bonk into each other whenever there's snow around.

40
by Jerry :: Tue, 12/12/2017 - 10:04pm

snow games are always fun.

On TV. In person, they're much less enjoyable. Not only is it uncomfortable, but snowflakes are harder to see through than rain.

43
by SandyRiver :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 10:29am

Only attended one "snow game", Dartmouth at Princeton way back when. The 1" snow squall during the 1st period was kind of fun. Quarters 2-4 with icewater cascading down the seatless concrete bleachers (we were in the lower third) - not so much.

44
by BJR :: Wed, 12/13/2017 - 11:53am

That sums up snowfall in general. Novel and fun for about an hour, then a giant pain in the ass.