GameChangers Week 14 (12/9/13)

By John Ewing
GameChangers, a look at plays that impacted the outcomes of games around the league. If you have a suggestion for a GameChanger please direct all ideas via twitter to @johnewing.

To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review three of the game-changing plays from the NFL and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently. 
Patriots vs. Browns
Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes in the final 61 seconds to help the Patriots rally for a 27-26 victory. As part of the comeback the Patriots successfully attempted and recovered an onside kick with 1:01 left to play.
Had Cleveland recovered the onside kick the Browns would have been 99.0% likely to win. Instead the Patriots increased their odds of completing the comeback to 34.9%.
Prior to the Patriots two quick scores, with 2:37 left in the 4th, New England only had a 0.1% chance to win. 
49ers vs. Seahawks
When San Francisco had a 1st and goal from the 7-yard line with a little over two minutes remaining, should Seattle have considered letting them score? With only the two minute warning to stop the clock, Seattle had two options. Try to hold the 49ers to a field goal attempt, which they successfully did, while allowing San Francisco to run the clock down. Or allow the 49ers to score a touchdown and then give your offense nearly two minutes to march down the field and score. 
Seattle held San Francisco to a field goal, when the 49ers took a 19-17 lead they became 82.4% likely to win. To determine if letting the 49ers score would benefit Seattle we have to make a few assumptions. First, when the 49ers score we will assume that they go for the two-point conversion since they would already be up five points. Second, we will assume by the time San Francisco scores and kicks off there will be two minutes left in the game.
With 2:00 left in the 4th, San Francisco leadings 24-17 (assuming a successful two-point conversion), Seattle ball at the 20-yard line, the Seahawks would have been 1.5% likely to win.
Had the 49ers failed on the two-point conversion, San Francisco leading 22-17, everything else the same, Seattle would have been 5.9% likely to win.

Letting San Francisco score, especially if they are successfully able to extend the lead to a touchdown, would have greatly reduced Seattle’s chances of winning the game.
Ravens vs. Vikings
The Ravens-Vikings game is the first in NFL history with 5 go-ahead touchdowns in the final 2:30 of the 4th quarter per Elias. The sudden lead changes led to wild swings in win probability for both teams.
  • Flacco’s touchdown pass to Dennis Pitta with 2:09 left in the 4th made the Ravens 70.6% likely to win.
  • Toby Gerhart’s 41 yard touchdown run with 1:27 left in the 4th made the Vikings 94.4% likely to win.
  • Jacoby Jones' 77 yard kickoff return with 1:16 left in the 4th made the Ravens 89.6% likely to win.
  • Cordarrelle Patterson’s 79 yard catch and run from Matt Cassel with 0:45 left in the 4th made the Vikings 91.1% likely to win.
  • Marlon Brown’s 9 yard touchdown catch with 0:04 left in the 4th made the Ravens 83.8% likely to win.
Eagles vs. Lions

Leading 22-20 with 8:18 left in the 4th, the Eagles wisely decided to go for it on 4th and 1 instead of kicking a field goal. The quarterback sneak by Nick Foles gave Philadelphia a 28-20 lead and made the Eagles 94.0% likely to win.