GameChangers Week 6 (10/13/14)

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.

Bengals vs. Panthers

There are ties in the NFL? Of course, you knew that. Green Bay and Minnesota finished in a 26-26 draw last season, San Francisco and St. Louis finished 24-all in 2012 and Donovan McNabb famously said he didn't know a game could end in a tie after a 2008 stalemate between the Eagles and Bengals.

Cincinnati and Carolina tied 37-37 Sunday. It was all about the kicking game in overtime. Each team traded field goals before Cincinnati's Mike Nugent missed a 36-yard attempt on the final play to end the game in a deadlock.

Was it possible to avoid the unsatisfying result?

The Panthers had the best opportunity in overtime to win the game outright. Facing a 4th-and-1 from the Bengals 18-yard line, Carolina decided to kick the 36-yard field goal to tie the game (Cincinnati had just took the lead on the previous drive).

What happened to Riverboat Ron? Ron Rivera went for the tie with 2:24 remaining instead of the win. Rivera ignored the fact that his team had converted two fourth downs already in the game and that Cam Newton is nearly unstoppable in short yardage; Newton rushed for five yards on 4th and 2 earlier in the game.

After kicking the field goal and tying the game, Carolina was projected to lose 40 percent of the time. By tying the game the Panthers were most likely delaying the inevitable.

Had Rivera decided to gamble and the Panthers picked up the first down, Carolina would have been 59 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Cowboys vs. Seahawks

After Seattle jumped out to an early 10-0 lead with seven minutes remaining in the first the Seahawks were 90 percent likely to win. Dallas rallied to beat Seattle 30-23; it was just the second home loss for the Seahawks since 2012.

The play that helped set up the go-ahead touchdown was a spectacular sideline catch by Terrance Williams for 23-yards that converted a 3rd and 20. The Cowboys second year receiver successfully dragged both toes on the catch and Dallas' expected win probability increased from 20 percent to 35 percent.

Had the pass been incomplete, Dallas is forced to punt, Seattle becomes 90 percent likely to win with a three point lead and possession.

The Cowboys are now 5-1 for the first time since 2007.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Chargers vs. Raiders

Oakland, touchdown underdogs at home, led San Diego 28-21 with ten minutes remaining. The Raiders, looking to snap a ten game losing streak, were 80 percent likely to win.

Philip Rivers cares not for expected win probability. The Chargers quarterback led a pair of scoring drives to give San Diego its fifth straight win.

The game winning drive was set up by a 30-yard punt return from Keenan Allen. The punt return increased San Diego's expected win probability from 29 percent to 51 percent.

Had Oakland got its net punt average (42 yards), the Raiders would have been 58 percent likely to win.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

Packers vs. Dolphins

Aaron Rodgers connected with Andrew Quarless on a four yard touchdown with three second to left to give Green Bay an improbable 27-24 victory over Miami.

Why was the victory for the Packers unlikely? Before the game winning drive, Green Bay had a 38 percent chance of winning trailing 24-20 with less than two minutes remaining. Facing a 4th and 10 on the same possession, the Packers expected win probability dropped to 9 percent.

For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.