Stats & Info: Andy Dalton

Manning, Dalton have something to prove

December, 22, 2014
Dec 22
Joe Amon/The Denver Post/Getty ImagesPeyton Manning has struggled in the red zone his last three games.
Both quarterbacks have something to prove on “Monday Night Football” this week (yes, including Peyton Manning).

In the previous three weeks, the only qualified quarterbacks with fewer completions per game than Manning (15.0) are Geno Smith, Zach Mettenberger and Ryan Fitzpatrick. Manning has completed fewer than 20 passes in three consecutive games for the second time in his career.

Manning is averaging more off-target passes per game (6.7) than in his first 11 games (6.4), despite averaging 15 fewer attempts per game. Manning has been off-target on 27 percent of his throws in that span, the second-highest percentage in the league (Colin Kaepernick, 33 percent).

Red-zone difficulties
The red zone used to be automatic for Manning, who led the league in completion percentage, touchdown passes and Total QBR in the red zone through his first 11 games.

Red-zone weapon Julius Thomas still leads the league with nine red-zone touchdown catches, but he missed three straight games because of injury and was limited last Sunday. Manning has connected on 86.6 percent of red-zone passes to Thomas this season but 67.1 percent to all other receivers.

If Manning is under pressure to improve, imagine how Andy Dalton feels. The Bengals are 0-2 in prime-time games this year, with the third-worst points margin (minus-47) and turnover margin (minus-6) among the 31 teams with a prime-time game (7 ET or later). In non-prime-time games, Cincinnati has a 9-2-1 record with a plus-69 points margin and plus-4 turnover margin.

Day and night
Dalton is the biggest reason for the Bengals’ prime-time struggles. Dalton has a career .694 winning percentage in afternoon games, trailing only Manning, Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Alex Smith and Andrew Luck. In that same span, Dalton has a .250 winning percentage in prime time, better than only Christian Ponder (.200) among qualified quarterbacks.

It’s also not just this year. Under Marvin Lewis, the Bengals have really struggled in prime time. Since Lewis became the head coach in 2003, Cincinnati is 6-15 in prime time (.286 win percentage, 28th in NFL), with a minus-8.4-point margin per game that ranks 30th in the league. Only the Bills (minus-8.9) and Raiders (minus-10) have worse per-game point margins in prime time than the Bengals under Lewis.

Dalton’s deal: numbers tell two stories

August, 4, 2014
Aug 4

Andrew Weber/USA TODAY SportsAndy Dalton agreed to a six-year, $115 million contract with the Bengals on Monday.
Coming off one of the best seasons by a quarterback in Cincinnati Bengals history, Andy Dalton agreed to a six-year, $115 million contract on Monday.

Dalton threw for 4,293 yards and 33 touchdowns in the 2013 season, breaking Carson Palmer's team records in both categories and tying Palmer's franchise season mark of 586 attempts. But was he worthy of such a massive contract?

Good move?

Volume-wise, Dalton's first three seasons rank among the best in NFL history. His 11,360 passing yards and his 80 touchdowns in his first three seasons are third most in NFL history behind all-time greats Dan Marino and Peyton Manning.

Dalton's overall numbers aren't far off from Manning's first three years either. With 49 more attempts, Manning had five more touchdown passes and almost 1,000 more yards, but Dalton threw nine fewer interceptions and had a much better win percentage (.625 to .542).

Dalton has improved the Bengals' win total while raising his yardage per attempt and touchdown passes each season thus far. He also became the fifth quarterback since the NFL merger to start a playoff game in his first three seasons. Only Joe Flacco has a longer streak to start a career (five straight from 2008 to 2012).

Bad move?
On the down side, Dalton failed to win any of those three playoff games, tying the longest postseason losing streak to start a career by any quarterback since the merger. His playoff numbers have been horrible too, with one touchdown pass, six interceptions and a Total QBR of 18, compared to his slightly above-average QBR of 52 in the regular season.

Dalton's biggest regular-season issues have come against division foes. He has a record of 8-10 with 24 touchdowns, 23 interceptions and a QBR of 35 against the Steelers, Ravens and Browns; and he's 22-8 with a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 56-26 and a QBR of 62 against all other teams.

As Bill Barnwell noted on Grantland this morning, Dalton particularly struggles when facing pressure, with a Total QBR of 11 when under duress in his career. That ranks 33rd among 36 quarterbacks with at least 100 attempts in that span, ahead of only Sam Bradford, Brandon Weeden and Mark Sanchez.

Playoffs aside, Dalton's QBR, completion percentage and win percentage are similar to Flacco's when he signed a contract with $51 million guaranteed last offseason. Flacco then finished 2013 with a QBR of 47, 25th best in the NFL, as the Ravens missed the playoffs for the first time in his career.

With a new contract in hand, will Dalton follow Flacco's lead, or will he continue to track with the game's all-time greats?

Keys to victory: Chargers 27, Bengals 10

January, 5, 2014
Jan 5
What were the keys to victory for the San Diego Chargers in their 27-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, their first playoff win since the 2008 wild-card game against the Indianapolis Colts?

Dalton had a rough day
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw two interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked three times.

Dalton is now 0-3 with one touchdown and six interceptions in three career playoff starts.

Dalton was 2-for-his-first-9 with an interception when the Chargers sent at least five pass-rushers at him, (he finished 4-for-11).

The Chargers also thwarted Dalton’s attempts to find his favorite target, A.J. Green. He completed 3 of 9 attempts to Green for only 34 yards. That was his worst completion percentage targeting Green this season.

Dalton completed more passes to the Chargers' defense (two) than Green (one) in the second half.

The Bengals finished with four turnovers, matching their most ever in a playoff game. That was also the most by a Chargers opponent all season. The Chargers' defense had only 17 takeaways during the regular season, third-fewest in the NFL.

Key drive: Chargers' go-ahead score in third quarter
Philip Rivers was 5-for-6 in the first half, matching the fewest attempts in the first half of any game in his career. But he came out throwing in the third quarter.

Rivers was 6-for-6 for 68 yards with a touchdown pass on the Chargers' first possession of the third quarter. Antonio Gates, Keenan Allen and Eddie Royal all had their first receptions of the game on that drive.

That was the Chargers' second touchdown drive of the game, and both took at least 10 plays. The Chargers had an NFL-high 39 drives of 10 or more plays in the regular season.

Rivers, who led the NFL in completion percentage during the regular season, finished 12-for-16. This was the first time in eight playoff games that Rivers did not throw an interception.

Chargers run the ball
San Diego gained a season-high 196 yards on the ground, which was also the most by any team in a game against the Bengals this season. The Chargers rushed on 68 percent of their plays, their highest rush percentage since Week 15 of the 2007 season (69 percent against the Lions).

The Chargers gained 50 rush yards after contact Sunday. They were held to a season-low 22 rush yards after contact in Week 13 against the Bengals.

Ronnie Brown's 58-yard touchdown run put the game away. It is tied for the second-longest touchdown run in Chargers playoff history. Keith Lincoln had a 67-yard touchdown run and Paul Lowe had a 58-yard touchdown run in a 51-10 win over the Boston Patriots in the 1963 AFL Championship.

Looking ahead
The Chargers will face a Broncos team they've already beaten once this season. They are 2-0 in playoff games in which Peyton Manning has been the opposing quarterback.

Manning, Foles dominate with play fakes

November, 10, 2013
Not everyone could make it look as easy as it did for Drew Brees against the Dallas Cowboys' porous pass defense on Sunday night. Here’s a look at some of the other top performers from Sunday’s contests.

Manning and Foles win with play-action
Peyton Manning and Nick Foles each maintained pace with Tom Brady in their own way and a key reason for that was the play-action pass.

Manning matched Brady in 2007 for the most touchdown passes through nine games (33) and did so on a day in which he was 9-for-9 for 187 yards with three touchdown throws on play-action passes. Manning leads the NFL with 1,317 yards on play action this season, 431 more than the next-closest passer (Brady).

Foles matched Manning with nine completions (on 14 attempts) and three touchdowns on play-action passes, netting 172 yards. He joined Brady as the only two players in NFL history with 10 touchdown passes and no interceptions in a two-game span in a single season. Brady did that in 2007.

Not surprisingly, Manning and Foles are 1-2 in the NFL in QBR on play action passes this season. Manning is a smidge ahead, 95.4 to 95.3.

You didn’t have to be great to win
A couple of quarterbacks continued their winning ways despite tough days on the field.

Cam Newton posted his lowest Total QBR in a win in his career (19.3), but the Carolina Panthers won their fifth straight by beating the San Francisco 49ers. Before Sunday, the Panthers had been 1-12 in games Newton started in which his Total QBR was below 40.0. The only other win was against the Jaguars in 2011.

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning finished even worse than Newton, with a 15.2 Total QBR. That’s the lowest for him in any win since 2007, when he beat the Buffalo Bills with a 2.7 Total QBR.

Manning’s Total QBR was the third lowest by any quarterback in a win this season. EJ Manuel won with a 9.8 against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 and Geno Smith won with a 14.8 against the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.

Sophomore slump
Though Foles was great again and Russell Wilson had a 92.3 Total QBR (his seventh game above 90 in the last two seasons), two other second-year quarterbacks struggled significantly.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck’s 13.6 Total QBR was the worst in a single game in his career. Luck had all sorts of trouble with the Rams blitz. He finished 3-of-11 for 16 yards, an interception and two sacks in situations in which the Rams sent at least five pass rushers.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick had a 7.7 Total QBR, his lowest this season. Kaepernick was 0-for-6 on throws deeper than 10 yards downfield, including a game-ending interception.

It is the first time in his career Kaepernick hasn’t completed a deep pass with multiple attempts.

QBR spotlight: Andy Dalton’s inconsistency
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton finished with a 17.3 Total QBR in a loss to the Ravens, a week after he had a 13.5 Total QBR against the Dolphins.

Dalton has been up and down all season. He had three straight games with a Total QBR below 40 in Weeks 2 through 4, followed by four straight games over 50, before his current two-game slide.

This is nothing new for Dalton: In 2012, his performance had even more drastic swings. Dalton had similar highs where his Total QBR averaged over 75 for three- to four-game stretches and had lows in which his Total QBR averaged below 35 for four-game stretches.

Top stats to know: Bengals at Dolphins

October, 31, 2013
Wesley Hitt/Getty ImagesSince Week 6, Andy Dalton has the most passing touchdowns (11) and the second-highest Total QBR (89.2) in the NFL.

The Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins will kick off Week 9 on Thursday night. The teams are trending in opposite directions. Miami has dropped its past four games, while Cincinnati has won its past four contests.

1. Andy Dalton’s play has been key to the Bengals' recent surge. Dalton has thrown for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns in three straight games.

He is the only quarterback in Bengals history to accomplish that within a season, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Dalton has completed 65.2 percent of his passes 15-plus yards downfield in his past four games, nearly double his rate in the first four games. The league-average completion percentage on those passes is 41 percent.

2. Helping fuel Dalton have been two surprise weapons, Marvin Jones and rookie Giovani Bernard.

Jones has caught all eight of his red zone targets for seven touchdowns this season. He is the only player in the league to catch all of his red zone targets (minimum of five targets).

Bernard has given the Bengals a receiving threat out of the backfield. Bernard has 26 receptions this season, including 14 during the winning streak.

No Bengals running back had caught more than 20 passes from Dalton in a season entering this year. Bernard is one of seven players this season to average 9.0 yards after the catch (minimum 20 receptions).

3. The Dolphins started off this season strong, going 3-0 for the first time since 2002. They have lost four straight games since, their longest losing streak since they lost their first seven games of the 2011 season.

In their past four games they have turned the ball over 10 times, the fourth-most by any team in the NFL. The Dolphins have converted only 30.9 percent of their third downs during this losing streak; before that they converted half of their third downs.

4. Ryan Tannehill has been sacked 32 times this season, most in the NFL. The more alarming stat is that opponents are doing this without bringing additional pressure.

Tannehill has been sacked on 10.2 percent of his dropbacks against four or fewer pass-rushers this season, the highest rate in the league. In the past two seasons, only the 49ers have more sacks (52) with such pressure than the Bengals (51).

5. There is some reason for Dolphins fans to be optimistic. Both of the Bengals' losses this season have come on the road. They are allowing almost 10 more points per game in road contests this season. The Bengals' defense has forced only two turnovers in four road games this season compared to 10 in four home games.

What has keyed the Bengals rise?

October, 29, 2013
Andy Dalton struggled to throw it deep in the first four games ...
The Bengals are holding steady at No. 7 in the Week 9 NFL Power Rankings on the heels of a four game winning streak.

The Bengals have gotten strong defensive play the past few seasons, but this win streak has shown the offense may be catching up with the defense.

Andy Dalton has thrown for the third-most passing yards (1,246) and the second-most touchdowns (11) the last four weeks with the second-best Total QBR (83.4). Dalton has also thrown for 300 yards in each of his last three games, the longest streak of his career.

What has led to the improvement in the passing game?

Interestingly enough, Dalton has targeted A.J. Green and Jermaine Gresham –- the only two skill position players to play with Dalton since his rookie season –- less frequently during the win streak. The duo has accounted for 38 percent of Dalton’s passes during the streak after accounting for over half of his attempts in the first four games.

Green and Gresham have done nothing to fall out of favor in Cincinnati. Despite fewer targets, Green has gained 100 yards in a career-high three straight games. Gresham has caught 72.3 percent of his targets this season, best among the Bengals’ wide receivers and tight ends.

The drop in targets for Green and Gresham is a result of an improved supporting cast.

But he's been much more effective of late.
Marvin Jones
In the Bengals’ Week 8 victory over the Jets, Marvin Jones caught four touchdown passes, doubling his career total.

Jones now has seven touchdowns this season (six during the win streak), all of which have come in the red zone. Only Wes Welker (eight) has more red zone touchdown receptions.

Jones has caught all eight of his red zone targets this season, the most targets without an incompletion on such passes. Dalton has completed 11-of-24 passes to all other Bengals inside the red zone with three touchdowns and an interception.

Giovani Bernard
Rookie Giovani Bernard has given the Bengals something they’ve never had under Dalton -- a receiving threat out of the backfield.

Bernard has 26 receptions this season, including 14 during the winning streak. No Bengals running back had caught more than 20 passes from Dalton in a season entering this year.

The real value comes from what Bernard does on those receptions. Bernard is one of seven players this season to average 9.0 yards after the catch (min. 20 receptions).

Tyler Eifert
Entering this season Gresham was the only receiving threat the Bengals had at tight end. Gresham had 120 receptions and 1,333 yards in Dalton’s first two seasons, with the rest of the Bengals’ tight ends combining for 24 receptions and 260 yards.

Rookie Tyler Eifert already has 24 receptions and 293 yards this season, which not only bests the “other” Bengals’ tight ends in the Dalton era, but is right on pace with Gresham (30 receptions, 288 yards).

Luck uses arm, legs to outshine Manning

October, 21, 2013
AP Photo/AJ MastAndrew Luck threw 3 touchdowns and ran for 1 to hand the Broncos their first loss of the season

As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s significant contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average. Since 2008, the team with the higher QBR has won about 85 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Luck outshines Manning in his return to Indy
Andrew Luck had a higher total QBR than Peyton Manning on Sunday, posting his second career game with four combined passing/rushing touchdowns. Manning was hurt by four sacks (most in a game since Week 12 in 2007), including the second-quarter safety that dropped his Total QBR from 98.4 to 87.3. His fourth-quarter interception dropped his Total QBR from 62.2 to 44.4.

Luck’s ability with his legs played a big role in the Colts win. Luck scrambled three times for 30 yards and a touchdown. He leads the NFL with four touchdowns on scrambles since the start of the 2012 season.

Only Cam Newton has more first-down scrambles on third down than Luck’s 15 since the start of last season.

Luck has 438 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns in 23 career starts. Peyton Manning has 705 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns in 231 career starts.

Kaepernick’s efficient performance
Colin Kaepernick had a 99.0 Total QBR against the Titans Sunday, the best by any quarterback in a game this season (min. 20 action plays).

The 49ers jumped out to a 24-0 lead with 7:20 left in the third quarter. At that point their win probability was at 98.7 percent, and never dropped below 94.9 percent.

Up to that point he completed 11-of-13 passes for 163 yards, including 5-of-5 for 87 yards on third down, with four first-down conversions. He converted three times on four third-down runs, including a 20-yard touchdown run when the game was within three points, and a 20-yard scramble on 3rd and 11.

At the end of the 3rd quarter Kaepernick had a 99.7 Total QBR on 27 action plays as the 49ers led 24-0 and had a win probability of 98.9 percent. His fourth-quarter Total QBR was 0.3 on six action plays, and only brought his Total QBR down 0.7 with the game in hand.

Also, for the game he had three negative plays (excluding kneel downs) for a combined minus-four yards, and zero turnovers.

Quick hitters
Cam Newton has posted a 89.4 Total QBR in his last 2 games after recording a 33.9 Total QBR through his first four games. He has completed at least 75 percent of his passes in each of his last two games, the first time in his career he's accomplished that in consecutive games.

Brandon Weeden had a 10.0 Total QBR against the Packers, his worst in a game this season. Only Blaine Gabbert has a lower Total QBR this season, than Weeden’s 24.9, among qualified quarterbacks. Weeden was 2-of-11 passing in the first quarter with six off-target passes.

Nick Foles posted a 7.5 Total QBR after consecutive games with a Total QBR over 80.0. He completed 0-of-8 passes on throws at least 15 yards downfield after entering the game 7-of-12 on such passes this season.

Josh McCown’s 94.8 Total QBR Sunday was the highest among any quarterback to come off the bench in a game over the last four seasons. It was also the highest Total QBR in a loss over that same span.

Andy Dalton’s 92.8 Total QBR against the Lions was the second-highest in his career. Dalton was 6-of-7 (85.7 percent) on passes of at least 15 yards downfield on Sunday, tied for his most completions on such throws in a game in his career.

Robert Griffin III had a Total QBR of 91.8 Sunday, his highest Total QBR in a game this season. Entering Week 7, his best Total QBR in a game was 43.0.

ESPN Stats & InformationRobert Griffin III was extremely efficient throwing to the right side of the field

Dalton > Rodgers down the stretch

September, 22, 2013

AP Photo/Tom UhlmanAndy Dalton and company took a little while to get going, but managed to beat the Packers.

What was the key to the Cincinnati Bengals’ 34-30 win over the Green Bay Packers?

In what was a topsy-turvy game, the Bengals won because they took advantage of a late turnover and the Packers failed to take advantage of early Bengals mistakes.

But along with that was the work of the quarterbacks. Aaron Rodgers had a rare bad day. Andy Dalton rose to the challenge late in the game, particularly once the Packers lost Clay Matthews to injury.

Packers’ wide receivers slowed by Bengals
Rodgers completed 79 percent of his throws the first two weeks when targeting a wide receiver, but the Bengals were able to hold him to 18-for-30 when throwing to one in this game.

The Bengals limited the Packers’ wide receivers Sunday, holding them to 47 yards after the catch. Last week against the Redskins, Packers wide receivers gained 178 yards after the catch.

Rodgers had three passes batted down at the line of scrimmage in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter Sunday, including his final attempt on 4th-and-5 with 1:25 remaining.

Rodgers had only one game in the last five seasons with three passes batted down prior to Sunday.

This was the first time in 36 games that Rodgers had more interceptions in a game than he had touchdown throws.

Dalton picked apart the Packers
Dalton completed 11-of-13 passes against four or fewer pass rushers (a career-best 84.6 percent), including all nine attempts in the second half.

Opponents entered the game completing 71 percent of their passes against the Packers’ standard rush, the seventh-highest rate in the league.

Dalton went 0-for-2 with an interception and a pass defended targeting A.J. Green in the first half. In the second half none of Dalton’s attempts to Green were disrupted by a Packers defender. He was 4-for-6 for 46 yards and a touchdown when throwing to Green.

Did You Know?
Rodgers is now 5-17 as a starting quarterback in games decided by four points or less.

Elias Sports Bureau Stat of the Day
The Bengals are the first team to win a game in which they allowed 30 straight points since the Cowboys beat the Redskins in Week 1 of the 1999 season.

Bengals keep it short and sweet to win

September, 17, 2013

Andy Dalton made good use of the center of the field in the Bengals' win.

The Cincinnati Bengals seem to have turned an important corner when it comes to beating the Pittsburgh Steelers, with wins in the last two meetings. In each instance, they held the Steelers to 10 points.

The Steelers are 0-2 for the first time under Mike Tomlin. This was only the second time in 10 games that Ben Roethlisberger lost in Cincinnati.

On this night, it was a rookie who stole the show.

Bernard makes the Bengals go
Rookie Giovani Bernard scored the first two touchdowns of his NFL career. He’s the third rookie to score two offensive touchdowns against the Steelers in a Monday Night Football game, joining Fred Taylor and Earl Campbell.

He’s also the first Bengals rookie with two offensive touchdowns on Monday Night Football since Stan Fritts in 1975.

Bernard was the first Bengal to score two touchdowns in any game against the Steelers since Terrell Owens in 2010.

Dalton wins by keeping it simple
On a day in which Andy Dalton threw his 50th career touchdown pass, he won by keeping his passes short and letting his receivers do the work.

Dalton finished 17-for-20 for 134 yards and a touchdown on passes within five yards of the line of scrimmage. He also took advantage of the middle of the field, as the image atop this story shows.

Big Ben comes up small
Roethlisberger had a rough go of it against a very stellar Bengals defense.

Roethlisberger completed only two of his first 12 passes that traveled at least 15 yards in the air (he was 2-for-3 on the final drive, with the Bengals in a prevent defense). Roethlisberger had a completion rate of 40 percent on those passes last season.

Roethlisberger threw 11 incomplete passes of that length. On nine of those 11, he overthrew his intended receiver.

Roethlisberger was 1-for-9 when he was under duress from the Bengals defense. The only completion went for one yard.

The Steelers also failed to maintain the success they had rushing the ball in the first quarter. They had 37 rushing yards in the game’s first 15 minutes, and only seven rushing yards the rest of the game.

The Steelers and Cardinals are tied for the longest active streak without rushing for 100 yards (eight games, dating back to last season). That matches the longest streak in Steeelers history, done once in 1933-1934 and again in 1935.

Did You Know?
The Steelers are 0-2 for the fifth time in the last 25 seasons, but they’ve shown the ability to bounce back from those poor starts. In each of the four other instances, they’ve finished the season with a winning record. Three of those seasons ended with a playoff spot.

Top things to know: Steelers at Bengals

September, 16, 2013

USA Today SportsBen Roethlisberger (left) and Andy Dalton (right) look to lead their team to victory on MNF.
The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals meet for the 86th time in a series that started in 1970 (8:30 ET on ESPN). The Steelers are looking for their fourth straight win in Cincinnati and 11th in the last 12 meetings in the Queen City.

Here are five stats Mike Tirico and Jon Gruden will be talking about during the game.

1. One of these teams will be 0-2 after the game. History says an 0-2 start means different things for these teams.

Over the last 25 years, the Steelers have started 0-2 four times. They finished with a winning record in each of the four seasons, making the playoffs three times.

By contrast, the Bengals have never finished with a winning record or made the playoffs in any of the 15 previous seasons in which they started 0-2.

2. Ben Roethlisberger is going for his 14th win against the Bengals, which would break a tie with Warren Moon for the most wins by a starting QB against Cincinnati.

He may need more help from a running game that has gone seven straight games without 100 yards, one shy of the longest such streak in franchise history set back in the 1930s.

3. A.J. Green is coming off a monster Week 1 performance in which he caught two touchdowns and set a franchise record for most receiving yards in a season opener (162).

However, he has struggled at home against the Steelers. Green has just three career games in which he’s been held to a single catch, two coming against the Steelers and both at home (the other was at the Cleveland Browns in 2011).

4. Andy Dalton is just 1-3 against the Steelers. While he won the last time out, he did struggle, throwing two interceptions with no touchdowns. Overall, Dalton has more interceptions (five) than touchdown passes (four) in his career against Pittsburgh.

5. James Harrison spent 10 seasons playing linebacker for the Steelers (2002-03, 2005-12), winning the 2008 AP Defensive Player of the Year award.

In Week 1, he played 62.5 percent of the Bengals’ defensive snaps. In his last five seasons with the Steelers in games he played, Harrison played in at least 84.1 percent of the team’s defensive snaps.

Kaepernick does it again vs. Packers

September, 9, 2013

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty ImagesColin Kaepernick posted the second highest Total QBR of his career Sunday.
As a reminder, Total QBR is a quarterback rating that takes into account all of a QB’s significant contributions (passing, rushing, sacks, fumbles, penalties) to his team’s scoring and winning and summarizes them into one number on a 0-100 scale, where 50 is average. Since 2008, the team with the higher QBR has won about 85 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Colin Kaepernick had a Total QBR of 89.8 Sunday, the second highest of his career and the highest QBR against the Green Bay Packers in the regular season since 2009.

It's not the highest Total QBR for Kaepernick in his career against the Packers; he posted a 92.4 in the NFC Divisional playoffs against Green Bay last season.

The last player to have a higher Total QBR against the Packers in the regular season was Brett Favre in 2009 (Week 4, 95.1).

Kaepernick continued his strong play at home Sunday and has the best Total QBR in home games (86.6) since making his first start in Week 11 last season. Peyton Manning is just behind him at 86.4.

The final score of the Cowboys-Giants game suggests that Dallas had a strong offensive game. But if you look at how the points were scored and how each unit performed when on the field, it was the Cowboys’ special teams that carried them.

Dallas had a special teams EPA of +12.8, its highest in any game since 2006. The Cowboys were able to capitalize on a muffed punt return by the Giants with 5:54 remaining in the third quarter, scoring a touchdown two plays later to extend their lead to 27-10.

Four of the five quarterbacks to start as rookies in Week 1 last season played Sunday, with the exception being Robert Griffin III, who will start Monday night against the Eagles.

Each of the four second-year quarterbacks had a higher Total QBR in Week 1 this season than they did as rookies in 2012, with Andrew Luck posting the second-highest QBR of his career (and the highest so far in Week 1).

Andrew Luck led the eighth game-winning drive of his career in the 4th quarter or Overtime Sunday, the most of any quarterback in the last two seasons.

Luck’s Total QBR increased from 85.3 to 95.1 after his game-winning 19-yard touchdown scramble (the longest TD run of his career), which put the Colts ahead for good.

Tom Brady had a Total QBR of 59.4 against the Bills, his lowest Week 1 Total QBR since 2006 (25.8). Brady’s Total QBR would have been even lower if not for his performance on 3rd down Sunday; he was 13-17 on third down with two touchdowns and a Total QBR of 96.6.

Eli Manning had a Total QBR of 27.6, his lowest against the Cowboys since posting a 9.2 in 2008. Manning’s Total QBR went from 52.5 to 17.9 after throwing an interception that was returned for a touchdown with 2:00 left in the game.

Andy Dalton had a Total QBR of 91.8, the second highest of his career. It is the fourth-highest Total QBR by a quarterback in a losing effort since the start of the 2012 season.

Foster continues playoff dominance

January, 5, 2013

Brett Davis/USA TODAY SportsArian Foster has had at least 100 rushing yards in each of his three career playoff games.
For the second straight season, the Houston Texans defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in the wild-card round of the NFL playoffs. It’s the fourth time under the current playoff format (since 1990) that two teams met in the wild-card round two years in a row, and in each instance, the team that won the first game also won the second game.

Not much changed as far as Bengals postseason history is concerned. They still have never won a road playoff game (0-6) and they still have not won a playoff game since 1990. Since the last time the Bengals won a playoff game, every other NFL team has won at least one.

Bengals coach Marvin Lewis is now 0-4 in the playoffs. Jim E. Mora is the only coach with more postseason losses without a win (0-6).

Arian Foster, who finished with 140 rushing yards and the game’s lone offensive touchdown, is the first player in NFL history with at least 100 rushing yards in each of his first three career playoff games. His 425 rushing yards are the most ever in a player’s first three postseason games (according to the Elias Sports Bureau).

With the loss, the Bengals fall to 5-11 all-time in the postseason, the worst win percentage (.313) in NFL history.

The Texans are now 6-0 this season in games decided by eight points or fewer (including the postseason). They’re the only team this season that did not lose a game by eight points or fewer.

What went right for the Texans?

Foster finished with a career-high 40 touches, recording 174 yards from scrimmage. He became the second running back this season to record at least 140 rushing yards and 30 receiving yards in a game (Jamaal Charles in Week 3). Foster recorded 41 percent of Houston’s offense, his third-highest rate this season, and caught all of his season-high eight targets through the air.

The Texans sent at least five pass-rushers on 40 percent (14-of-35) of Andy Dalton’s drop-backs, compared to only 21 percent (10-of-47) in last year’s postseason matchup. The Texans were much more successful pressuring Dalton with extra rushers this time, putting him under duress or sacking him on six of 14 drop-backs, Dalton’s second-highest rate this season.

What went wrong for the Bengals?

They were 0-for-9 on third downs. But that shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Bengals ranked 27th in third-down percentage (34.1) during the regular season.

Bengals receivers were held to 38 yards after the catch Saturday. That’s the fewest yards after the catch for the Bengals in a game this season.

Bengals-Texans: What you need to know

January, 1, 2013
The Houston Texans will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Saturday at 4:30 ET in the AFC Wild Card Playoffs.

Same game, different year
This is the 4th time under the current playoff format that teams are meeting in the Wild Card round in back-to-back seasons. In each of the previous three instances, the team that won the first game also won the second game.

It’s been a while
The Bengals’ last playoff win was a 41-14 victory over the Houston Oilers in the 1990 Wild Card Playoffs. They’ve lost 4 straight postseason games since then, each by at least 10 points. Every other current NFL franchise has won a playoff game since the Bengals last win.

Cincy road woes
The Bengals are 0-5 all-time on the road in the postseason, tied with the Saints (also 0-5) for the worst road record in NFL postseason history.

Rare company for Dalton
Andy Dalton will become the 4th quarterback in NFL history to start a road playoff game in each of his first two seasons. He joins Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco and Shaun King.

Schaub likes the Bengals
Matt Schaub is 2-0 in 2 career starts against the Bengals with 7 touchdowns and a single interception. Of the 16 teams he has faced more than once since 2008, Schaub’s Total QBR of 89.4 against the Bengals is his best against any team.

Foster seeing red
Arian Foster has the most red zone rush attempts (74) and touchdowns (15) in the NFL this season. The Bengals defense has allowed 3.3 rush yards per attempt in the red zone this season, the third-most in the league.

Tip drill
The Texans batted or tipped 37 passes this season, with 16 coming from J.J. Watt (both best in NFL). Andy Dalton has had 32 passes batted or tipped since entering the NFL (third most), including five in two games against the Texans last season, one of which was returned for a touchdown by Watt.

Green likes play action
A.J. Green has four touchdown catches this season on play-action passes, tied for third-most in the league. Andy Dalton has not thrown a touchdown pass to any other receiver out of play action this season.

Sanchez joins Eli in 3rd-down struggles

November, 12, 2012
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson Mark Sanchez struggled again in a 28-7 loss to the Seahawks on Sunday, posting a QBR below 10 for the third time this season.
Eli Manning wasn't the only New York quarterback to post a low QBR on Sunday.

New York Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez finished with a 6.2 QBR, the second-lowest among all quarterbacks who started Sunday. Like Manning, Sanchez has posted three straight weeks with a Total QBR under 50, and this week had his third game this season of 10 or worse.

Sanchez, like Manning, has struggled on third down in the last three weeks, converting 20.0 percent of his chances with no touchdowns, one interception and four sacks.

The only starting quarterback Sunday who had a lower QBR than Sanchez was Cam Newton.

Newton had a career-low Total QBR of 2.0 on Sunday against the Denver Broncos -- his previous low was 15.1 in Week 5 of this season. Newton was sacked seven times, one of which went for a safety, for a loss of 43 yards. In addition, the Carolina Panthers were 0-for-12 as a team on third down (Newton completed just 1-of-5 passes).

*Andy Dalton had a career-high 94.8 Total QBR in a 31-13 victory against the New York Giants on Sunday. Dalton was 7-of-9 passing on third down, including three of his four touchdowns, good for a 99.1 Total QBR in those situations.

*Christian Ponder also had a career high with a 90.0 Total QBR after posting three consecutive weeks below 20. Ponder is 5-0 this season when he posts a Total QBR of 50 or better, and 1-4 when it is less than 50.

*Josh Freeman’s Total QBR of 94.4 was the second-highest in his career. His best game was 96.5 in Week 2 of 2010 at Carolina.

*Eleven QBs posted a Total QBR of 80 or higher this week, tied for the most in a single week since the start of the 2008 season. Eleven QBs also accomplished the feat in 2010 Week 3 and 2009 Week 3.

Total QBR can be used to quantify just how important the quarterback position has become to winning in the NFL. Looking back to previous years, the team with the higher Total QBR has won 86 percent of regular-season games since 2008 (as far back as Total QBR goes). That is higher than the comparable mark for teams with the advantage in total yardage, turnover differential, and NFL passer rating.

Keep in mind that just because a team wins a game with a lower QBR than its opponent does NOT mean that Total QBR was “wrong” or not as good for that game. That just means that the winning team was able to overcome its QB being outperformed by the opposing QB (on a rate basis), usually by playing better in other aspects of the game (rushing game, special teams, etc.).

Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Ryan off to torrid Total QBR start

September, 24, 2012
Matt Ryan
The Atlanta Falcons are one of three remaining undefeated teams in the NFL, and one look at the play of quarterback Matt Ryan this season will show you why.

Completing 30-of-40 passes for 275 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in Sunday’s 27-3 victory over the San Diego Chargers, Ryan is off to the second-best three-game start in the Total QBR era (since 2008). His 84.6 QBR was the ninth-best in Week 3, and his 91.6 QBR for the season is almost a full 10 points better than his closest competitor, the Indianapolis Colts' Andrew Luck.

Ryan has excelled on third down, posting a 97.2 QBR in those situations, which ranks second behind Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. On Sunday, Ryan was 9-of-10 with seven first downs on third down, including a touchdown pass to Julio Jones with 0:58 remaining in the first half.

The five rookie starting quarterbacks have been a major story this season, but on Sunday it was the play of the sophomore passers that stole the headlines.

Second-year quarterbacks went 4-0 on Sunday, including wins over the top two picks in the 2012 NFL Draft, Luck and the Washington Redskins' Robert Griffin III. Three of the four second-year quarterbacks posted single-game career-high Total QBRs, led by the Cincinnati Bengals' Andy Dalton’s 93.4, which was tops in the league in Week 3. Dalton completed 19-of-27 passes for 328 yards with three touchdowns and an interception at Washington.

Jake Locker shined in leading the Tennessee Titans to their first win of 2012, throwing for 378 yards and two scores against the Detroit Lions. The Minnesota Vikings' Christian Ponder had two touchdown passes and ran for another in a surprise defeat of the San Francisco 49ers. Only Blaine Gabbert of the Jacksonville Jaguars struggled, but he still threw the game-winning 80-yard touchdown pass against the Colts.

Overall, sophomore quarterbacks as a group added 21.1 more points to their teams than an average quarterback would have, while the rookie quarterbacks took away 3.2 more points from their teams than an average passer.

With the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens locked in a tight contest last night, the Ravens outscored New England 10-3 in the fourth quarter as Joe Flacco led the Ravens on two long scoring drives to take the lead. Flacco was 9-of-11 on those two drives and was more efficient than Brady in the fourth quarter overall. Flacco posted a near-maximum 99.1 QBR in the final period, while Brady clocked in with a 35.7 QBR.

Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.