NFL GameChangers: Week 3 Edition (9/26/16)

By Rob Pizzola @robpizzola
In this edition of GameChangers, we will utilize our Live ScoreCaster technology to review the game-changing plays from Week 3 in the NFL. This week featured a very questionable coaching decision and two major penalties that drastically impacted three different games.

The situation: The Dolphins and Browns are headed to overtime. The Browns win the coin toss, and instead of electing to receive the ball, they elect to defer.

The take: Just when you think that the Browns can't get any more Browns, they go out and do something like this. Even the most oblivious NFL fan was aware that Cleveland should have opted to receive here, but apparently Hue Jackson thought that he needed to send his defense on the field first. Cleveland's win expectancy dropped from 49.7% if they received the ball first to 44.2% after they elected to kick off; a 5.5% decrease in win expectancy. Somehow, Jackson is still employed today.

The situation: The Redskins are facing fourth-and-nine from their own 35-yard-line with 11:20 to play in the fourth quarter, leading 26-24. Tress Way's punt is blocked and is eventually knocked out of bounds at the Washington 18-yard-line; however, an unnecessary roughness penalty against the Giants wipes out the play, and the Redskins are able to re-punt. The Giants get the ball at their own 30-yard-line instead of in the red zone.

The take: The Redskins also received an illegal batting penalty on their blocked punt, so the Giants would have received the ball at Washington's 9-yard-line had the play not been wiped out. Remember what I said about the Browns above? Well, it pretty much applies to the Giants too. This is so Giants. New York's win expectancy would have been approximately 75.0% in that first-and-goal situation. Instead, their win expectancy dropped to roughly 51.8% because of that one penalty; a whopping decrease of 23.2%.

The situation: The Titans trail the Raiders 17-10 with 1:02 left in the fourth quarter. Marcus Mariota hits Tajae Sharpe with a 19-yard pass to get down to the Raiders three-yard-line; however, offensive tackle Taylor Lewan takes a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty for a late hit, bringing the Titans back to the 18-yard-line.

The take: A first-and-goal from the three-yard-line would have seen the Titans win the game approximately 41.9% of the time. This may seem a bit low, but remember, the Titans would have had to get into the end zone, successfully make the PAT, and then play some defense just to get into overtime. Lewan's penalty was costly one though, as the Titans win expectancy dropped to about 22.8%. One lapse in judgement almost cut the Titans win expectancy in half, costing them 19.1% towards pulling out the victory at home.