GameChangers Week 15 (12/15/14)

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.

Giants vs. Redskins

Odell Beckham Jr. caught three touchdowns as the New York Giants took advantage of an overturned touchdown at the end of the first half to beat the Washington Redskins 24-13.

The game-defining play, the overturned touchdown at the end of the first half, occurred as time expired in the second quarter. Robert Griffin III scrambled for an eight yard touchdown but replay officials ruled that Griffin had lost possession of the football when he dove for the end zone and as a result the play was reversed.

The Redskins led the Giants 10-7 at the half and were 52 percent likely to win. Had Griffin's touchdown stood, Washington leading 17-7 at the half, the Redskins' expected win probability increases to 70 percent.

Adding insult to injury, the Redskins players, specifically Santana Moss, were so upset by the ruling on the field at the end of the first half that they drew unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The penalties were assessed on the second half kickoff.

The penalties allowed the Giants to kick off from the Redskins 35-yard line. New York, because of the field position, decided to try an onside kick. The Giants successfully recovered the onside kick and became 66 percent likely to win.

To recap, Washington saw the team's expected win probability swing from 70 percent (if Griffin's touchdown stands) to 34 percent following the Giants onside kick, which was set up by unsportsmanlike conduct penalties related to the Griffin touchdown not counting.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Patriots vs. Dolphins

New England defeated Miami 41-13 to secure the Patriots sixth straight AFC East title. The Pats jumped on the Dolphins early when Jamie Collins blocked Caleb Sturgis' 41-yard field goal attempt on Miami's first possession and Kyle Arrington returned the ball 62 yards for a touchdown.

The touchdown on a blocked field goal made New England 85 percent likely to win.

Had Miami converted the field goal attempt, the Dolphins expected win probability increases from 15 percent to 35 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Bengals vs. Browns

The Johnny Manziel era in Cleveland started with a 30-0 thrashing at the hands of rival Cincinnati. The Bengals dominated Johnny Football in his first career start. Manziel was 10-of-18 for 80 yards, two interceptions and was sacked three times.

Pacman Jones intercepted Manziel and then did the “money” sign. Wallace Gilberry sacked Manziel and then did the “money” sign. Rey Maualuga did the “money” celebration in Johnny's face.

Everyone did the ‘money” sign, Johnny Manziel's signature gesture, except Johnny Football.

Ironically, even though Manziel played poorly, the interceptions and the sacks came after Cleveland was already down 17-0. By that point the Browns had just a 10 percent chance of winning.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Bills vs. Packers

The Buffalo Bills ended the Green Bay Packers five game winning streak and assured the team of its first eight-win season since going 9-7 in 2004 with a 21-13 victory Sunday.

The Packers receivers who had a number of drops including one key drop by Jordy Nelson helped the Bills in the win.

On second down at the Green Bay 6-yard line, Aaron Rodgers found Nelson wide open and hit the receiver in stride. The pass bounced off of Nelson's hands incomplete.

Trailing 16-10, Green Bay had a 20 percent chance of winning at the end of the third quarter. Had Nelson caught the pass and ran for a touchdown, Green Bay leading 17-16, the Packers would have been 56 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Cowboys vs. Eagles

Dez Bryant caught a career high three touchdowns and the Dallas Cowboys took control of the NFC East with a 38-27 victory Sunday night.

The high scoring game was full of lead changes and wild swings in expected win probability.

Dallas took an early 21-0 lead in the second quarter. The Cowboys were 85 percent likely to win. The Eagles responded with 24 unanswered points. Leading Dallas 24-21, Philly became 70 percent likely to win.

The Boys responded with two touchdowns in three minutes. With a double-digit lead in the fourth, Dallas became 88 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.