GameChangers Week 8 (11/02/15)

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.

The Decision

Saints vs. Giants



New Orleans earned a hard fought 52-49 victory over the New York Giants. Drew Brees threw for a career high 511 yards and seven touchdowns, combining with Eli Manning to tie an NFL record with 13 scoring passes.

In a game dominated by touchdowns, it was a face mask penalty and a field goal that decided the contest. With 20 seconds to play, the Saints forced the Giants to punt. During the return, New York punter Brad Wing was flagged for a face mask penalty. The extra 15 yards from the infraction put the Saints in field goal range and made New Orleans 82 percent likely to win. On the subsequent play, Kai Forbath kicked a 50-yard field goal as time expired.



Had Wing not committed the face mask penalty or not been flagged for the offense, the Saints start with the ball at the Giants 48-yard line. This would have lowered New Orleans' expected win probability to 60 percent needing a 65 yard field goal to win the game.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

The Play

Bengals vs. Steelers



The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history. Andy Dalton found A.J. Green for a 9-yard touchdown to give Cincy the lead for good late in the fourth. The touchdown was setup by a Shawn Williams interception of Ben Roethlisberger.



The pick gave Cincy the ball in Pittsburgh territory trailing 10-6 with 5:34 to play. The Bengals expected win probability increased 26 percent. Had Williams not made the spectacular interception, Pittsburgh remains 85 percent likely to win with the lead and possession of the ball.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Additional Highlights

The Buccaneers defeated the Falcons 23-20 in overtime. Jameis Winston led Tampa Bay on a 15-play, 68-yard drive to start overtime that included a 13-yard pass to Mike Evans to extend the drive on third down. The first down catch was worth 29 percent in expected win probability for the Bucs – Tampa Bay would kick the game winning field goal a few plays later.

Minnesota scored ten points in the final two minutes to beat Chicago 23-20. Stefon Diggs turned a short pass into a 40-yard touchdown with 1:49 to play tying the game and that was the biggest change in expected win probability. The catch-and-run increased the Vikings chance of winning by 41 percent.

Todd Gurley set a record with 566 rushing yards in his first four starts. The rookie is the first to open his career with four consecutive 100-yard games (per Stats LLC). The Rams easily dispatched the 49ers 27-6 and were never less than 90 percent likely to win in the second half.

Justin Tucker kicked a 39-yard field goal as time expired to give the Ravens a 29-26 victory. The kick came three plays after a third-down (3rd-and-19) pass interference call against San Diego moved the ball 21 yards to the Chargers 22-yard line. The penalty increased Baltimore's expected win probability by 38 percent.

Russell Wilson led the Seahawks on a 17 play, 79-yard game winning drive late in the fourth that included Wilson converting three third downs with his legs. Seattle's quarterback was increased the team's net win percentage by 65 percent as the defending NFC Champions beat Dallas 13-12.

Peyton Manning is not dead. The five-time MVP threw for 340 yards and led the Broncos to a 29-10 victory over the Green Bay Packers. Manning increased Denver's net win percentage by 37 percent, the most of any player in the game.