2011 Week 3: NFC West game changers


The Arizona Cardinals' chances were already slim -- about 36 percent, according to the statistical record -- when they came to the line of scrimmage with 1:15 remaining against Seattle in Week 3.

Trailing 13-10 and facing third-and-12 from the Seahawks' 36-yard line, the Cardinals needed another 10 yards or so to feel good about entrusting kicker Jay Feely with the tying attempt. Feely had missed wide left from 51 yards and come up short from 49 on this windy, rainy day at CenturyLink Field.

What happened next stands as the most pivotal play involving an NFC West team in Week 3.

The Seahawks' Kam Chancellor picked off Kevin Kolb's pass at the Seattle 25, all but securing victory for Seattle. The change in win probability for Arizona -- from about 36 percent to less than 2 percent -- represented the largest one-play swing for any division team Sunday.

The play carried added interest because it was a chance to see Kolb perform under pressure and amid difficult circumstances. The Cardinals' offense was not well-equipped to handle the situation for a variety of reasons, including Kolb's relative inexperience, specifically in this offense, and Beanie Wells' injury-related absence. The Seahawks are also strong on defense. Crowd noise and rough weather conditions were also factors.

The chart ranks the five most pivotal plays in the NFC West from Week 3, based on win probability calculations. These calculations, provided by Alok Pattani of ESPN's analytics team, reflect results from thousands of game situations over the years. They aren't perfect in part because coaches approach specific situations differently, particularly in close games, but the general idea is sound.


2011 NFC West Game Changers: Week 3