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    GameChangers Divisional (01/12/15)

    By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
    To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review the game-changing plays from the NFL and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently.



    Click the header for each game to view the Game Breakdown for each matchup.

    Patriots vs. Ravens


    The New England Patriots became the first team in playoff history to rally twice from two separate 14-point deficits to defeat the Baltimore Ravens Saturday evening. Tom Brady found Brandon LaFell for a 23-yard game-winning touchdown with 5:13 left to play and Duron Harmon intercepted Joe Flacco in the end zone on Baltimore's next series to seal the 35-31 victory.

    The Wild Card Ravens were as much as 85 percent likely to win leading 28-14 in the third and Baltimore was the projected winner for nearly 70 percent of the game. Yet, New England found a way to win. The Ravens could have been victorious if a few balls had bounced their way.

    New England put the ball on the turf on three occasions. The Patriots recovered two of the fumbles and had a third reversed on replay. It was that third fumble that could have swung the game for Baltimore.

    After Justin Tucker's 25-yard field goal gave Baltimore a 31-28 lead with nearly ten minutes remaining, the Ravens were 63 percent likely to win. Shane Vereen fumbled on the Patriots next possession and Baltimore recovered in New England territory. However, officials ruled that Vereen was down by contact before the fumble occurred. Seven plays later the Patriots scored the game-winning touchdown and became 80 percent likely to win.

    Had the Vereen fumble not been overturned on replay, Baltimore with possession and a 31-28 lead would have become 75 percent likely to win.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Seahawks vs. Panthers


    Seattle became the first defending Super Bowl champion to win a playoff game since New England in 2005. The Seahawks, heavy favorites (-710 money-line), handled the Carolina Panthers winning 31-17 Saturday night.

    The Seahawks never trailed and were the projected winner for the entire game. The Legion of Boom picked Cam Newton off twice, once resulting in a pick-six, as Seattle spent most of the second half greater than 90 percent likely to win.

    Carolina had a chance to make the game interesting as the Panthers were driving in the fourth in a 24-10 game. Unfortunately, Newton threw his second interception of the game, this one in the red zone. Seattle's Kam Chancellor returned the pick 90 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.

    Even if the Panthers score a touchdown on that possession, instead of tossing a pick-six, the Seahawks would have been 96 percent likely to win leading 24-17 with less than seven minutes to play.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.



    Packers vs. Cowboys


    Green Bay overcame a 21-13 deficit in the third quarter to advance to the NFC Championship game. Aaron Rodgers threw for 306 yards and three touchdowns with a calf injury. The Packers were helped to the win by a reversal of a catch by Dez Bryant with less than five minutes left in the game.

    Dallas was facing a fourth-and-two from the Green Bay 32-yard line trailing 26-21. Dez Bryant made a leaping catch at the Packers one-yard line. Mike McCarthy challenged that Bryant made the catch and officials overturned the ruling on the field. The successful challenge was the first for McCarthy this season.

    Instead of first-and-goal for Dallas, the Packers took over on downs. Green Bay became 94 percent likely to win.

    Had Bryant's catch been upheld by replay, the Cowboys expected win probability increases by nearly 20 percent but they still would not have been the projected winner.

    Dallas would need to score a touchdown and be successful on a two-point conversion to lead 29-26. In that scenario the Cowboys become 63 percent likely to win. However, if Green Bay stops Dallas on the two-point attempt, Green Bay would be trailing 27-26, the Packers would have been 52 percent likely to win.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Broncos vs. Colts


    Denver forced an Indianapolis three-and-out on the Colts first possession. The Broncos then proceeded to march down the field to score the opening touchdown of the game. Peyton Manning and the Broncos were 83 percent likely to win leading 7-0 with 10:00 left in the first.

    From that point forward the Colts dominated the game. Indy scored 14 unanswered points to take a lead at the half. Indianapolis' offensive line kept Andrew Luck upright (zero sacks allowed) and the Colts defense forced the Broncos to punt six times, turn the ball over on downs twice and limited Peyton Manning to 13 total points. Indy advances to the AFC Championship with a 24-13 victory.

    The Colts were the projected winner for all but one minute of the second half. Broncos fans might wonder what plays could have swung the game in Denver's favor.

    Joshua Cribbs fumbled a punt following Denver's second possession in the third quarter. Denver recovered but officials ruled that Cribbs was down by contact. Had the fumble been upheld on replay, the Broncos would have become 36 percent likely to win trailing 21-10. Not necessarily a game-changing play.

    The only play in the second half that would have made Denver the projected winner was a forgettable third-and-five to start the second half. Peyton Manning could have easily run for a first down but instead tried to throw it down field to Emmanuel Sanders, the pass was incomplete. Had Manning picked up the first down with his legs, the Broncos become 54 percent likely to win.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

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