GameChangers Week 3 (09/21/14)

By John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
GameChangers, a look at plays that impacted the outcomes of games around the NFL. 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 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.

Seahawks vs. Broncos


Marshawn Lynch rushed for a six-yard touchdown on Seattle's first possession of overtime and the Seahawks beat the Broncos 26-20 in the Super Bowl rematch.

Seattle blew a 17-3 fourth quarter lead and were 99 percent likely to win after Steven Hauschka kicked a 28-yard field goal to give the Hawks a 20-12 lead with 1:04 left to play.

Peyton Manning was able to force overtime with a 26-yard touchdown pass to Jacob Tamme with 18 seconds left in regulation but Denver never got the ball in the extra session.

Could the Broncos have won if Manning had an opportunity in overtime?

Assuming Seattle settled for a field goal on the Seahawks first possession (SEA 23, DEN 20), Denver would have only been 21 percent likely to win.

Had the Broncos forced a punt on Seattle's first drive in overtime, Seahawks did face a 3rd and 3 from their own 38-yard line, Denver would have been 56 percent likely to win only needing a field goal to pull the upset.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Cowboys vs. Rams


Dallas matched the biggest comeback in Cowboys' history rallying from a 21-0 deficit to defeat St. Louis 34-31.

Tony Romo threw the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth and Dallas linebacker Bruce Carter returned a Shaun Hill interception for a touchdown on the next Rams' snap. The back-to-back touchdowns increased the Boys' expected win probability from 49 percent to 97 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Ravens vs. Browns


Baltimore's kicker Justin Tucker booted a 32-yard field goal as time expired to beat Cleveland 23-21. The game winning kick was set up by a Joe Flacco 32-yard pass to Steve Smith with 1:28 left to play, which gave the Ravens a first down on the Browns 13-yard line and increased Baltimore's chances of winning from 68 percent to 91 percent.

Cleveland suffered another loss by a field goal; all of the Browns games have been decided by three points or less. Cleveland could have avoided the tough loss by converting either of the team's fourth quarter field goal attempts.

Had Billy Cundiff's 50-yard field goal been good instead of hitting off the left upright, Cleveland leading 24-17, the Browns expected win probability would have increased from 58 percent to 80 percent.

Cleveland's second missed field goal lowered the Browns odds of winning from 88 percent to 69 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Redskins vs. Eagles


In his first start for injured Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins threw for 427 yards and three touchdowns. Washington outgained Philadelphia 511-379. The Redskins had an early 17-7 lead but dropped to 1-2 on the season as the Eagles rallied to win 37-34.

Washington had a chance to take a lead with ten minutes left to play but Kai Forbath hit the right upright ending his streak of 18 straight field goals made. On the next play, the Redskins intercepted Nick Foles but the play was overturned by replay.

Had the interception stood, Washington's ball on the Philadelphia 17-yard line, the Redskins expected win probability would have increased from 42 percent to 73 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Dolphins vs. Chiefs


Don't let the score fool you, Kansas City won 34-15 but the game was closer than the final score would indicate. Helping the Chiefs earn just a third victory in the team's last 11 games was the difference in fourth down efficiency.

Kansas City was one for one while Miami was 0-2 on fourth down. The Dolphins were forced to attempt a difficult 4th and 20 trailing late in the fourth, but Miami could have avoided such an unfavorable position had the team been more aggressive earlier in the contest.

Facing a 4th and 2 from the Kansas City 30-yard line in the second quarter, Miami decided to try a 48-yard field goal instead of rushing the ball; the Dolphins averaged 7.1 yards per rushing attempt against the Chiefs Sunday.

Caleb Sturgis' 48-yard field goal was no good, Miami's expected win probability decreased from 65 percent to 55 percent. In a scoreless game, had the Dolphins went for it on fourth down and converted, Miami would have been 75 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.