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Thursday, December 16, 2010
NFL receivers literally dropping the ball

By John Fisher

If it seems like NFL receivers are dropping more passes this season, there’s a good reason. Our video analysis of every NFL play shows that there have been 700 drops through 14 weeks, an average of 50 per week across the league. That puts receivers on pace to drop 850 passes this season, up from 813 last year and 780 in 2008. Two seasons ago there were only four weeks league-wide with 50 or more dropped passes, and there were seven such weeks last season.

There have already been nine weeks this year with at least 50 drops across the NFL, including 58 this past weekend. The Houston Texans dropped six passes alone this week, the third team to “accomplish” that feat this season. Not surprisingly the Texans, Arizona Cardinals (Week 11 at KC) and Green Bay Packers (Week 6 at WAS) all lost when dropping six passes in a game.

There are more costly dropped passes this season than in years past as well. Santonio Holmes dropped a wide-open pass in the end zone Sunday in a game the New York Jets lost by four points. And everyone remembers the Buffalo Bills taking the Pittsburgh Steelers to overtime where Steve Johnson got behind two defenders and dropped what would have been a game-winning 40-yard TD catch.

In fact, there have been 47 dropped passes in the end zone this season which matches the total from all of last season! There have already been three weeks this season where there were five or more dropped touchdown passes, equaling the total from the previous two seasons combined. That includes the six end-zone drops in Week 1 of this season, the most in one week over the last three years.

Making matters worse, 18 of those end-zone drops have come in the fourth quarter or overtime, the same number there were all of last season and 50 percent more than in 2008. And shockingly, 11 of those drops have come on third or fourth down after there were just 12 such drops in 2008 and 2009 combined. And the three fourth-down, fourth-quarter and OT, end-zone drops this season are more than the two we’ve seen in the previous two seasons combined.

Randy Moss
Moss
If you’re looking for a culprit, look no further than Randy Moss. He has played for three different teams this season, perhaps a result of his league-leading three dropped passes in the end zone.

No player in the league has had that many in one season since 2008, and his total of six in the last three years is also tops in the NFL.