The improbability of a game-ending TD

September, 25, 2012
9/25/12
2:31
AM ET

The Seahawks defense put the offense in position for the last-second finish by sacking Aaron Rodgers eight times on Monday.
The notes and numbers behind the ending of the Monday Night Football game between the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks may be overshadowed by the controversy surrounding the game's final play.

But an amazing ending did produce some amazing statistical gems on Russell Wilson's game-winning touchdown throw to Golden Tate with no time remaining. Let's take a closer look:
Elias Stats of the Night
In the last five seasons, there have been seven game-winning touchdowns scored with no time left in regulation.

This was the first since Desean Jackson’s punt-return touchdown for the Philadelphia Eagles against the New York Giants two seasons ago.

In the last five seasons, only one team has lost on a clock-expiring touchdown twice—the Packers. They also lost 37-36 on one by Mike Wallace of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2009 season.

It marked the first time that a game-winning touchdown was scored as time expired in the fourth quarter of a Monday Night Football game.

It was the first game-winning touchdown as time expired in the fourth quarter for the Seahawks since 1990 when Paul Skansi caught a game-winning score from Dave Krieg against the Kansas City Chiefs.

This marked the third time that a reigning MVP quarterback faced a rookie quarterback on Monday Night Football.

Wilson’s game-ending touchdown throw made the rookies 3-for-3 in beating the MVPs.

The other two winning rookies were Scott Bull (1976 49ers) and Chris Chandler (1988 Colts) who won games against Fran Tarkenton (Vikings) and John Elway (Broncos) respectively.

What were the chances?

How often does a team in the Seahawks situation win?

Going back to 2001, there have been 20 previous instances of a team in the following situation:

-- Final 10 seconds of the fourth quarter
-- With the ball, trailing by four to six points
-- 20 to 29 yards away from the opposing goal line

Of those 20 previous instances with teams in similar situations as the Seahawks were before the last scrimmage play, the team with the ball won the game only twice:

-- December 28, 2003 - Minnesota Vikings at Arizona Cardinals: Trailing by five with four seconds left in the game, Cardinals QB Josh McCown hits Nate Poole for a game-winning 28-yard touchdown pass on 4th-and-25 from the Vikings 28. That came in the final game of the season and knocked the Vikings out of playoff contention.

-- September 7, 2008 – Carolina Panthers at San Diego Chargers: Facing 3rd-and-7 from the Chargers 20 and trailing by five with six seconds left in the game, Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme passes to Muhsin Muhammad for a 6-yard gain. Following a timeout, Delhomme hits Dante Rosario with a 14-yard touchdown pass to win the game with no time left.

The other story of this game
Lost in the chaos of the finish was what would have been the story had the Seahawks won in a less controversial fashion, or even had the Packers won.

Seattle’s defense took Aaron Rodgers completely out of his game plan by sacking him eight times in the first half. The eight sacks matched the most Rodgers had in any game in his career. Seven of those sacks came when Seattle sent four or fewer pass rushers.

The Packers were forced to go from an offense that was 11 percent called runs in the first half to 39 percent runs in the second half. That helped a bit, but in the end not enough.

Rodgers finished with a 54.3 Total QBR for the game, raising his season Total QBR to 49.1.

That ranks 23rd in the NFL. Rodgers led the league in Total QBR last season with an 86.2.

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