NFL GameChangers: Week 1 Edition (09/10/17)

By Ryan Fowler @FreelanceFowler
In this edition of GameChangers, we will utilize our Live ScoreCaster technology to review the game-changing plays from Week 1 of the 2017 NFL season.

David Johnson Third Quarter Injury & Fumble

The Situation:

David Johnson was forced to the sideline with a wrist injury after a 24-yard catch and run to the Lions three-yard line. Six plays later, with the Cardinals up 17-9 late in the third quarter, Johnson was inserted back into the game. He proceeded to fumble, handing the Lions the ball on Arizona's 10-yard line.

The Take:

The Cardinals held a nice 69.6% chance to win prior to Johnson's fumble. Why was Johnson forced back into the game when Kerwynn Williams and Andre Ellington were suitable replacements until the wrist injury severity was known? Johnson only had six plays to recover.

Matthew Stafford hit Theo Riddick for a touchdown two plays after the fumble to cut Arizona's lead to two, 17-15 (failed 2-pt conversion). Detroit would go on to score three more unanswered touchdowns – two on offense and one courtesy a Carson Palmer pick six - to take a commanding 35-17 lead.

Johnson hit the locker room following the fumble and did not return. X-rays came back negative and will have an MRI on Monday.

Kirk Cousins Intercepted In End Zone

The Situation

Trailing 19-17 early in the fourth quarter, Kirk Cousins and the Redskins offense moved the ball 50 yards downfield into the Eagles red zone. On third-and-six from Philadelphia's 14-yard line, Cousins back peddled, threw off his back foot over Jamison Crowder's head and was picked off by Jalen Mills.

The Take

Washington's odds of winning flipped on that one play. The Redskins held a 61.1% chance of winning as of that third down play. If Cousins avoids the interception, Dustin Hopkins kicks the field goal and Washington takes a 20-17 lead. Instead, all quarterback fundamentals – not to mention accuracy – were tossed out the window and the Eagles took possession and held a 61.0% chance of winning the game. Washington's final three possessions were a punt, a Cousins controversial fumble returned for TD and a turnover on downs.

Falcons Field Goal & Bears Final Drive

The Situation

A Matt Bryant field goal put the Falcons up 23-17 with 3:24 remaining in the game. Mike Glennon countered with 12-play drive to place the ball on the Atlanta five-yard line with 26 seconds remaining.

The Take

Atlanta's win expectancy was 92.5% after the Bryant field goal. By the time Glennon hit tight end Zach Miller for 11 yards down to the Falcons five-yard line with 26 seconds left, Chicago's win expectancy improved to better than 51.0 percent. It looked like the football gods were going to hold true when Glennon fired a pass over to a wide-open Jordan Howard on the left sideline, but the second-year back heard the footsteps of Falcons Robert Alford and dropped what appeared to be a catch and go-ahead score. In that moment, the Bears win expectancy fell from 51.3% to 38.5%. Glennon missed Miller on third down and was sacked on fourth.

Between his drop and rookie running back Tarik Cohen 13 touches for 113 yards with a touchdown, Jordan Howard won't sleep well.