BIG PLAYS #7: Detroit at Denver


We're again referring to AdvancedNFLStats' game log to analyze the game and come up with the biggest plays of the game.  Our definition of a big play is a play that changes the likelihood of the outcome of the game.  We're looking at WPA to judge them.  At the start of the game, WPA is 0.50, meaning each team has a 50% chance of winning.  After every play, WPA is recalculated compared to every nfl football play that has ever happened, and each team's likelihood of winning is adjusted.  The bigger the play, the bigger the WPA movement.

Since we lost, we'll start with our best plays and end with our worst.  I'll also ignore all plays of .06 points or less, since they're not big plays.  There's not a lot to go into with this game, actually - hardly any of the plays were "big plays".



WPA Offense/Defense Play Description Notes
+0.09 Offense 13:26 1-10-DEN 49 DET 0 DEN 0 LI: 1.3 (Shotgun) 35-L.Ball right guard to DET 17 for 34 yards (42-A.Spievey). On our first drive, Lance Ball gets loose for a long gain, from midfield all the way to the red zone.  This was actually our only positive "big" play of the game.
-0.06 to +0.06 Gameplay (Every other play) Almost every other play of the game didn't have a huge impact of likeliness of winning or losing.  This game was just kind of a slow slog to a certain loss.  The remaining big plays were negative ones.
-0.07 Defense 0:55 2-8-DET 28 DET 7 DEN 3 LI: 1.4 9-M.Stafford up the middle to DET 49 for 21 yards (77-B.Bunkley). PENALTY on DEN-77-B.Bunkley, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at DET 49.  This quarterback scramble to midfield combined with a (in my mind, really iffy) unnecessary roughness penalty took the Lions all the way from the Detroit 28 to the Denver 36 on one play.  This drive would end with a Detroit field goal.
-0.12 Defense 8:48 2-6-DEN 41 DET 0 DEN 3 LI: 1.4 (Shotgun) 9-M.Stafford pass deep middle to 16-T.Young for 41 yards TOUCHDOWN. In the first quarter, Matt Stafford found some severely busted coverage and threw for a long touchdown.  From this point on, Detroit basically never looked back.  After the first quarter, none of the plays mattered very much in terms of changing the complexion of the game.

Really hard to know where to start with this one, so I won't try.  It's not exactly a comfort to point out that none of our turnovers really mattered in terms of the game outcome.

Drive notes for Offense:

  1. +0.06 for a field goal drive
  2. -0.06 for a three-and-out with a sack.
  3. -0.02 for five-play drive with a sack.
  4. -0.03 for a three-and-out.
  5. -0.05 for a three-and-out.
  6. -0.02 for a three-and-out; a Royal 3rd down catch just short of the first down.
  7. +0.01 for running out the end of the half.
  8. -0.0 for a Tebow fumble being returned for a touchdown (Denver was already 96% likely to lose).
  9. +0.01 for a three-and-out with a sack.
  10. +0.02 for a three-and-out.
  11. +0.01 for a drive with a failed 4th-down conversion.
  12. -0.01 for a long drive ending with a 100-yard interception return for touchdown.  Detroit is now 99% likely to win.
  13. +0.0 for a touchdown drive to Eric Decker.
  14. +0.0 for a one-play drive of Lance Ball fumbling.
  15. +0.0 for a longer drive ending in a failed 4th-down conversion.

Drive notes for Defense:

  1. -0.21 for a five-play drive ending in long touchdown.  Denver went from 0.60 to 0.39 on this one drive, and Denver would never again be the likely victor in the game.
  2. +0.04 for a four-play drive ending with a short sack and a punt.
  3. -0.09 for giving up a field goal.
  4. -0.01 for a long drive ending with a long Ayers sack to push them back out of field goal range.
  5. -0.14 for the Scheffler touchdown drive.  At this point, Detroit was already 90% likely to win.
  6. -0.04 for giving up another touchdown drive inside of two minutes, just before the half.
  7. -0.01 for yielding eight yards before forcing a three-and-out punt to start the 3rd quarter.
  8. -0.03 for a five-play drive leading to a punt.
  9. -0.02 for giving up a long Megatron touchdown.
  10. +0.0 for forcing a three-and-out.
  11. +0.0 for a six-play drive ending in a punt.
  12. +0.0 for a three-and-out.
  13. -0.01 for Detroit kneeling to end the game.

This game was clearly lost in the first half.  For the game: In the first half, offense was -0.12.  Bad, but nowhere near as bad as in the first half against Miami.  However, the defense was -0.44, and there was no coming back from that - the defense basically had a worse half WPA-wise than the offense did for the first half of San Diego *or* Miami.  The second half was basically meaningless, with the offense +0.03 and the defense -0.06, although I think we can basically consider that noise.  Defensively, this was very much like the Green Bay loss.

In a sense, this is a flip side of the Miami victory.  In Miami, all the noise was about the Tebow victory, while it was actually more of a defensive victory.  This week, the noise will again be about Tebow, but this was much more of a defensive breakdown and loss.  There was just no answer to Stafford and Megatron, although it certainly doesn't help to give Detroit a 25-yard cushion on touchdown passes.

Players: Tim Tebow bears most of the statistical brunt in terms of performance, although I think Burke's system must be putting the sacks onto the quarterback rather than the offensive line, because it grades the offensive line highly when that doesn't seem right.

This is a Fan-Created Comment on The opinion here is not necessarily shared by the editorial staff of MHR

Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.

Join Mile High Report

You must be a member of Mile High Report to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Mile High Report. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.