Stats & Info: Tony Romo

Bears' victory comes after steep climb

September, 15, 2014
Sep 15
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
Brandon Marshall caught three touchdown passes to help the Bears catch the 49ers.
In Week 1 it was the Philadelphia Eagles. In Week 2, on Sunday night, it was the Chicago Bears.

For the second time in two weeks, a team that trailed 17-0 in the first half mounted a rally and pulled out a highly improbable victory.

On Sunday night, on the possession after the San Francisco 49ers took a 20-7 lead in the third quarter, the Bears’ win probability dipped to 5.2 percent. The Bears finished that drive with the second of Brandon Marshall’s three touchdown catches, making the score 20-14 and improving their probability of winning to 20.3 percent.

The first snap after the ensuing kickoff was the game’s biggest play in terms of win-probability swing. Kyle Fuller’s interception of Colin Kaepernick’s pass boosted the Bears’ chances of winning by more than 25 percentage points.

The Bears’ win probability surpassed 50 percent on Jay Cutler’s touchdown pass to Martellus Bennett on the next play, and the Bears never had less than a 45 percent likelihood of winning in the final 13 minutes.

Less is more
Whether it’s because the Dallas Cowboys win more often when Tony Romo passes less, or it’s that Romo passes less when the Cowboys are winning, there’s no denying Romo has performed better when he throws fewer passes. In his career, his win-loss record, touchdown-to-interception ratio and Total QBR are much better when he attempts fewer than 30 passes in a game.

Romo threw 29 passes Sunday in the Cowboys' 26-10 win over the Tennessee Titans. He completed 66 percent of his passes, but he was sacked four times and averaged 6.1 air yards per pass. His Total QBR was 63.

Total QBR is a metric on a 0-to-100 scale, with 50 being average. Even when Romo throws 30 or more passes, he performs at a level above the NFL average.

Don’t blame Saints’ offense
The New Orleans Saints have posted an NFL-high plus-30.3 offensive efficiency this season. But their defense and special teams have combined for a minus-34 efficiency, the worst in the NFL. Efficiency accounts for the impact of each play on a team’s potential point margin.

Five other teams since 2006 have posted a worse defense/special teams efficiency in their first two games, and four of them finished under .500. But there might be some hope for New Orleans -- the 2007 New York Giants finished 10-6 and won the Super Bowl.

No Romo spells trouble for Cowboys

December, 23, 2013

AP Photo/James D. SmithA source tells ESPN that Tony Romo will miss the remainder of the season.

The day after throwing a game-winning touchdown to put the Dallas Cowboys in a winner-take-all game against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday night, Tony Romo’s luck took a drastic turn.

A source tells ESPN that Romo will miss the remainder of the season with a back injury. Here is a look at how much he will be missed in Big D:

Romo vs. all others
It has been all Romo in Dallas since 2006. He made his first career start in Week 8 of that season. He has missed 13 games since becoming the starter.

Jon Kitna (nine games), Brad Johnson (three) and Stephen McGee (one), have started in relief of Romo since 2006. They have won a combined six of those 13 starts while enjoying far less success throwing the ball.

Romo has thrown 31 touchdown passes this season, tied for the second-highest total in Cowboys’ history and five shy of the team record, which he set in 2007. Romo is the only quarterback in team history to throw for 30 or more touchdown passes in a season. He's done so three times.

The replacement
The Cowboys have two quarterbacks on their roster – Romo and Kyle Orton. Orton is 35-34 in 69 career starts, but he has not started since Jan. 1, 2012.

Orton signed with the Cowboys prior to the 2012 season and has not been seen much since. Romo has thrown 98.7 percent of the Cowboys’ passes since then – the 11th highest rate for any quarterback in the NFL.

Orton has attempted just 15 passes over the last two seasons and those came in a pair of blowouts when the Cowboys were trailing by 24 points.

In 2011, he started eight games for the Denver Broncos (five) and Kansas City Chiefs (three). Orton had a 59.5 percent completion percentage that season (ranked 20th in the NFL), 7.0 yards per attempt (17th), and a total QBR of 52.4 (18th).

Can they still rely on the pass?
Few teams lean on the pass as much as the Cowboys have this season.

Dallas owns the fifth highest dropback percentage this season at 66 percent. The Cleveland Browns have the highest percentage at 70 percent.

The Cowboys may have to change it up and feed running back DeMarco Murray on Sunday night. This season, 17 running backs have averaged more rushes per game than Murray’s 15.4, despite the fact that Murray is averaging 5.4 yards per rush.

Cowboys' Romo creates another wild swing

December, 23, 2013
AP photo/Alex BrandonTony Romo orchestrated his 13th game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime since 2011
Tony Romo’s touchdown pass on fourth and goal pushed the Dallas Cowboys to a 24-23 victory over the Washington Redskins on Sunday. The pass increased the Cowboys’ win probability by 42.5 percentage points, his biggest play in terms of increased win probability this season. Since 2001, teams were 9-of-45 (20 percent) on fourth-and-goal plays needing at least 10 yards to score a touchdown.

Sunday's exploits only seemed to heighten the perception that Romo is an all-or-nothing quarterback late in close games. Last week, he had a pass intercepted late in the game by Tramon Williams, decreasing the Cowboys’ win probability by 51.1 percentage points, the quarterback’s worst play in terms of win probability differential this season.

Romo’s Total QBR was 99.3 in the 4th quarter Sunday. He finished at 79.4 for the game after starting the 4th quarter at 23.9.

Up Next: Romo faces his 4th career “Week 17 win-or-go-home game” next Sunday against the Eagles. He is 0-3 in his previous 3 games with a 20.7 Total QBR.

After home success, Foles will take to road
Nick Foles’ 96.4 Total QBR in the Philadelphia Eagles' 54-11 victory over the Chicago Bears was the highest in any of his eight career home starts (34.2 home Total QBR in previous seven home starts). But Foles has been much stronger on the road, and he will play in Dallas next week. Foles’ Total QBR is 37.7 points higher on the road over the last two seasons, the best home-to-road differential among qualified quarterbacks since 2012.

Stafford's fourth-quarter struggles
Matthew Stafford threw his fifth fourth-quarter interception in his last six games, and it was returned for a touchdown in the Lions’ overtime loss. He has a 10.6 fourth-quarter Total QBR in his last six games (the Lions are 1-5), the worst rating in the NFL since Week 11. Stafford had a 90.1 fourth-quarter Total QBR in his first nine games, the second-best rating in the NFL through Week 10.

ESPN Stats & Information

Newton erases rough start on final drive
The Carolina Panthers’ win probability was at 4.8% when the Saints had 3rd down with 1:47 left in the game (see chart above), and Cam Newton had a Total QBR of 3.0 at that point. That was in line to be the second-worst Total QBR in a start in his career until he engineered a five-play, 65-yard drive to take the lead. Newton finished with a Total QBR of 16.6, but it was 99.9 on the final drive.

Quick hitters:
Russell Wilson posted an 11.5 Total QBR against the Cardinals, the worst rating in any of his 31 career starts. Wilson was 0-8 passing with a 0.1 Total QBR when under duress or hit while throwing. Wilson entered the game with a 78.7 Total QBR under such pressure, the second-best rating in the league.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ defense has contributed -7.2 expected points per game to their net scoring margin since Week 11, 27th in the NFL. The Chiefs are allowing an NFL-high 423 yards per game during that span, while recording a sack on 3.2 percent of opponent dropbacks (second-worst in the NFL). Their defensive EPA was 11.0 per game in their first nine games this season (9-0 start), the best in the NFL.

The Dolphins were shut out, and their offensive EPA was -25.1, meaning that unit contributed -25.1 points to their net scoring margin. It was the fourth-worst offensive performance in terms of EPA by any team this season. Ryan Tannehill finished with a 3.2 Total QBR, his first Total QBR game in single digits this season.

Geno Smith had an 83.1 Total QBR in the Jets’ 24-13 victory over the Browns. Smith has had four games with a Total QBR greater than 70.0, and they have come against teams with a combined record of 18-41 (Bills, Falcons, Raiders in addition to the Browns).

Romo gets it right this time around

December, 22, 2013

Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportssTony Romo (right) got it done when needed on Sunday against the Redskins.
Tony Romo did it again, with "it" in this case being something positive-- a game-winning touchdown rather than a game-ending interception.

Romo led the Cowboys to a comeback win over the Washington Redskins with his late touchdown throw to DeMarco Murray.

This marked the 12th time that Romo has led a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime in the last three seasons. That’s the most in the NFL in that span. Romo's 23 career game-winning drives are tied with Roger Staubach for the most in Cowboys history (Staubach's 23 include two in the playoffs).

What did Romo do best on Sunday?
Romo threw both of his touchdowns (including the game-winner to Murray) outside the pocket on Sunday.

Romo has four touchdown passes from outside the pocket in his last three games, with at least one in each game. He only had one in his first 11 games of the season.

The game-winning play
Murray’s touchdown catch was unusual in a number of respects. Entering the day, he’d only run three fourth-down pass routes in his entire career.

Romo had only thrown one fourth-down pass all season (an incomplete one against the Chicago Bears) prior to Sunday.

But there was some indication that the struggles the Cowboys had on those first three plays could be erased.

Romo entered the day having completed 71 percent of his fourth-down passes (and had a completion earlier in the fourth quarter), the highest completion percentage of any active quarterback. He was 20 for 25 (80 percent) on fourth-down throws in the fourth quarter or overtime.

Looking ahead
Next Sunday, the Cowboys will play in their eighth win-or-go-home game in Week 17 or the playoffs with Tony Romo as the starting quarterback.

They are 1-6 in the previous seven games, 0-3 in those games that were played in Week 17.

In the seven games, Romo has completed 61 percent of his passes, but has only eight touchdown throws and seven interceptions.

Each of the three Week 17 games was played on the road, with the Cowboys losing by a combined 65 points.

Cowboys demise: Play-calling, Romo or D?

December, 16, 2013

Tim Heitman/USA TODAY SportsThe Cowboys have made it a habbit of losing games in which they held a late lead.
The Dallas Cowboys lost another game that they controlled almost entirely until the end Sunday.

Their average win probability across all plays in the game was 81.6 percent. That is the fifth-highest average win probability in a loss since 2006 (as far back as our win probability data goes) and the highest since the Philadelphia Eagles used a DeSean Jackson punt-return touchdown on the final play of the game to complete a comeback against the New York Giants in 2010.

Over the last couple years, the Cowboys have made it a routine of “snatching defeat from the jaws of victory” – losing games in which winning appeared nearly certain.

So what is the cause of this problem? Is it the play-calling? The quarterback? Or the defense?

The play-calling
We start with Jason Garrett’s post-game press conference Sunday, where he said “The idea was to run the ball and use clock…it was a run call though, that [Tony Romo] threw the ball on.”

But that was just one play of 15 the team ran in the fourth quarter Sunday. They dropped back 12 times and ran it three times. It’s the third time this season in which a team ran at least 10 plays with the lead in the fourth quarter and dropped back to pass 80 percent of the time. Those teams lost all three times.

How rare is it for teams to pass the ball in the situation the Cowboys were in?

Entering this week’s action, teams since 2001 have rushed the ball 94.7 percent of the time (3,061 rushes on 3,234 snaps) on first or second down when leading by 7 or fewer in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.

The league average play call when leading this season is 53 percent pass, 47 percent rush. The Cowboys entered Sunday with the second-lowest rush percentage when ahead (37 percent).

The quarterback
Sam Shields' interception was Romo’s seventh of his career that came in the fourth quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by one possession, two more than any other quarterback since he joined the league.

Maligned rookie Geno Smith is the only other quarterback to throw multiple fourth-quarter interceptions in the same game when the score is within five points this season.

The defense
One week after the Chicago Bears did not punt a single time against the Cowboys, the Cowboys defense allowed the Green Bay Packers to score on all five of their drives in the second half Sunday, excluding the kneel at the end of the game.

In the last two weeks, the Cowboys defense has been on the field for 20 drives where the opponent didn’t have game-ending kneels. It’s allowed 10 touchdowns and four field goals while forcing just four punts.

The Cowboys are 1-2 this season in games in which they score at least 35 points. The rest of the NFL is a combined 51-2.

-Micah Adams, Alok Pattani and John Carr contributed to this post.

Cowboys pay for Romo's costly picks

December, 16, 2013

AP Photo/James D. SmithTony Romo threw two interceptions in the final three minutes against the Packers
Leading 36-31 late in Sunday's game, the Dallas Cowboys appeared in good position to win and pull into a tie for the NFC East lead. Two plays went a long way toward changing that.

Tony Romo’s interception with 1:24 left in the 4th quarter against the Packers dropped the Cowboys’ win probability by 51.1 percentage points, the 2nd-most costly 4th-quarter interception in his career in terms of win probability (the most costly was Darrelle Revis’ interception of Romo in 2011; see chart below). His interception earlier in the quarter dropped the Cowboys’ win probability by 17.5 percentage points (from 88.6% to 71.1%) and set up the Packers' go-ahead touchdown.

Romo has thrown 7 career 4th-quarter interceptions that have dropped his team’s win probability by at least 20 percentage points (the Cowboys have lost all 7 games). Using that definition of a costly interception, only Matt Schaub (8) has thrown more than Romo since 2006.

Cowboys’ defense non-existent
The Cowboys’ defense contributed -22.8 expected points to the team’s net scoring margin in the 2nd half against the Packers. That is the worst defensive EPA by any team in the 2nd half of a game this season.

The Packers scored a touchdown on each of their 2nd-half drives, excluding their final drive, which was 3 kneel downs. The Packers got first downs on 47 percent of their 2nd-half plays and converted 6-of-7 third downs during that span.

The Cowboys’ defensive EPA is -6.8 points per game this season. Only the Vikings (-8.0) have been worse.

EPA looks at the impact of every play on each team's potential points, attributing those to the actual unit on the field – offense, defense or special teams. When aggregated over the course of a game or season, EPA numbers show how much each unit contributed to the team's final point margin. EPA takes into account each unit’s impact on moving the ball, creating turnovers and scoring points.

Cutler good when it counts
Jay Cutler had a 99.9 Total QBR in the 4th quarter, completing 5-of-7 passes for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Bears’ 38-31 win over the Browns. Cutler's Total QBR in the 4th quarter this season is 95.2, 1st in the NFL among qualified QBs.

Cutler overcame 2 costly interceptions in the game. His 1st interception, thrown into the end zone on 1st and 10 at the Browns’ 14, cost the Bears an expected 4.9 points. Combined with his pick-six in the second quarter, Cutler cost the Bears 11.0 expected points with his 2 interceptions.

Saints leave offense at home
The Saints' offense contributed 6.0 expected points to their net scoring margin against the Rams, almost doubling their offensive EPA on the road this season (now at 13.3, 15th in NFL). Their offense has added 104.9 expected points at home this season, and no team averages more per game.

Drew Brees’ Total QBR was 35.5 against the Rams and is 55.8 on the road (12th in NFL) this season. It is 80.3 at home (2nd in NFL).

Quick hitters
Eli Manning’s Total QBR was 2.1 against the Seahawks, his worst Total QBR in a game since the start of the 2006 season. Manning threw a career-high 5 interceptions, and converted one of nine third downs. Manning’s Total QBR this season is 36.0, more than 10 points worse than his previous low (46.2, 2006).

Matt Cassel posted a career-high 96.3 Total QBR (min. 15 action plays) against the Eagles. Brett Favre (97.5) is the only Vikings quarterback to post a higher Total QBR in a game since 2006 (44-7 win in Week 17, 2009, vs Giants).

The Rams’ special teams added 6.4 expected points against the Saints. They blocked a field goal attempt by Garrett Hartley, and Hartley missed another field goal wide left late in the game. The Rams’ special teams unit has added 2.4 expected points per game this season, 2nd in the NFL behind the Chiefs (3.0).

Carson Palmer posted an 86.6 Total QBR against the Titans. His Total QBR is 77.6 since Week 8, 2nd-best in the NFL behind Josh McCown (Cardinals: 6-1 during that span).

The Chiefs’ offensive EPA was 21.2 against the Raiders, their 2nd-highest total in a game since the start of the 2006 season. The Chiefs’ offense added 20.3 expected points from Jamaal Charles’ 5 touchdowns (over 95% of their offensive EPA). Charles’ last touchdown added 6.2 expected points. EPA is measured on a play-by-play basis, taking the difference between what the expected points an average team would be expected to score in that same situation (based on historical NFL data), from their expected points after the play, and adding them up through the course of a game.

Keys to victory: Packers 37, Cowboys 36

December, 15, 2013
What were the keys to the Green Bay Packers' improbable comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday?

The Cowboys chose not to run with the lead
The Cowboys entered the second half with a 26-3 lead and DeMarco Murray had 93 yards rushing on 11 carries.

Despite the big lead and success on the ground, the Cowboys ran by design on only seven of their 30 second-half plays (23 percent).

The league-average play call when leading this season is 53 percent pass, 47 percent run. The Cowboys entered Sunday with the second-lowest run percentage when ahead—37 percent.

The Cowboys averaged just as many yards on rushes as dropbacks in the first half. In the second half, the Cowboys averaged 1.9 yards more on rushes.

Packers perfection
The Packers scored a touchdown on all five of their second-half drives.

They are the fourth team with five touchdowns in a half this season, joining the Eagles, Chiefs and Broncos, who did it twice.

The Cowboys allowed five touchdowns in a half for the first time since a 49-21 loss to the Eagles in the 2004 season.

The key to this was that the Packers went 6 of 7 on third down in the second half, with the only “failed” conversion being Matt Flynn's kneeldown to end the game.

The Packers went 1 of 6 on third down in the first half, with the only conversion being a screen pass on the final play of the half

Flynn was 5 for 5 for 75 yards and a touchdown on his third-down passes in the final 30 minutes.

Eddie Lacy rushed for 110 yards on 13 carries in the second half, including a 60-yard run on the first play of the third quarter. He had seven straight runs in the fourth quarter that gained at least three yards, prior to his one-yard touchdown run.

Romo’s interceptions
Tony Romo threw a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter, one with the lead and one that clinched the game for the Packers.

This is the seventh time Romo has thrown a pick in the fourth quarter or overtime with his team tied or leading by one possession. That is nearly twice as many as any other QB since 2006 (when Romo became the starter in Dallas).

Romo is now tied with Tom Brady for the most 4th-quarter interceptions this season (four) when the score is within five points.

How unusual was the first pass resulting in an interception that Romo threw, one that came on a second-down situation?

Since 2001, teams have rushed the ball 95 percent of the time (3,061 rushes on 3,234 snaps) on first or second down when leading by one to seven points in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter.

The significance of the comeback
This marked the first time in franchise history that the Cowboys lost a game in which they led by 20 or more points at the half. Entering Sunday, they were 42-0 in such games.

The 23-point comeback tied the Packers' largest comeback in franchise history (Sept. 12, 1982 against the Rams. They trailed 23-0 and won 35-23).

Keys to victory: Bears 45, Cowboys 28

December, 10, 2013
The Chicago Bears put on an offensive display in Monday night’s 45-28 win over the Dallas Cowboys, helping them move into a tie atop the NFC North division with the Detroit Lions.

The Bears had nine offensive possessions, scoring five touchdowns, kicking three field goals and taking a knee to end the game. They’re just the third team to have a game without punting this season, joining the Packers and Broncos, with two of those games coming against the Cowboys.

Here were the three biggest keys for Chicago’s victory on Monday Night Football.

McCown Makes Bears History
McCown finished with 348 passing yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. In Bears franchise history, only one other quarterback has had a game in which he threw for over 300 yards with at least four touchdown passes and no interceptions, that was Erik Kramer in a 1995 game that the Bears lost to the Rams.

McCown also added a rushing touchdown in the victory. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, McCown is the first Bears quarterback with five touchdowns (passing plus rushing) in a game since Johnny Lujack did it in 1949.

Bears WR Duo Emerges as Best in NFL
Brandon Marshall finished with 100 receiving yards, giving him over 1,000 on the season, the seventh straight season Marshall has topped 1,000 receiving yards. He’s just the fourth player in Bears history with multiple 1,000-yard receiving seasons for the team.

He and teammate Alshon Jeffery are already over 1,000 yards on the season with three games remaining. They’re just the second set of Bears teammates to each have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season, joining Curtis Conway and Jeff Graham, who did it in 1995.

Marshall and Jeffery have combined for 2,283 receiving yards this season, the most combined yards by a pair of teammates this season.

Cowboys Defense Continues to Struggle
Although Tony Romo is criticized for his record in December and later (with Monday’s loss, his career record in such games is now 13-20), he threw three touchdowns in the loss. Instead, it was the Cowboys defense that struggled, as they've been doing all season.

After allowing 490 yards to the Bears, the Cowboys defense is allowing 426.8 yards per game this season, more than 25 more than any other team.

Dallas is on pace to give up 6,830 yards this season, not only the most in franchise history, but the second-most by any team in NFL history, trailing only last year’s Saints (7,042).

It’s the fifth time this season the Cowboys have allowed at least 490 yards in a game. No other team has two such games this season.

Deep passes will be key in MNF matchup

December, 9, 2013

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh Josh McCown has excelled in the starting role thanks in large part to his success on deep throws.

Because the Eagles beat the Lions Sunday, the winner of Monday’s game will be tied atop their division. Let's take a look at some of the key matchups for the Week 14 edition of Monday Night Football between the Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears.

Josh McCown’s deep ball vs Cowboys defense

While filling in for the injured Jay Cutler, Josh McCown has posted a Total QBR of 78.4, second best in the NFL. McCown’s success has a lot to do with his deep throws. McCown has completed 51.7 percent of his passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield this season, second only to Russell Wilson. McCown has had most of his success when targeting Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, who have combined to catch 12 of his 15 completions on deep throws.

The Cowboys’ ability to stop opposing quarterbacks on deep throws has had a direct impact on whether or not they win the game. In their seven wins, opposing quarterbacks have completed 34.7 percent of their passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield and posted a Total QBR of 34.0. In the Cowboys five losses, opposing quarterbacks have a nearly perfect 99.8 Total QBR, mostly due to a 66.7 completion percentage on deep throws.

Tony Romo’s deep ball vs Bears defense

Through the first five weeks of the season, Tony Romo was tied with Drew Brees for the best Total QBR on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield (99.5). Romo was averaging a league-high 18.7 yards per attempt on such throws. But lately, Romo has been unable to find the same success on deep throws. In his last seven games, Romo has a Total QBR of 51.6 on deep balls, 28th among qualified passers.

Romo will look to return to early season form as he goes against a Bears defense that has struggled defending deep passes.

The Bears have allowed a league-high 99.1 Total QBR and 57.1 completion percentage on passes thrown 15 or more yards this season.

DeMarco Murray’s inside running vs Bears defense

The strength of DeMarco Murray this season has been running inside. Murray has averaged 5.2 yards per rush on runs inside the tackles this season, fifth best in the NFL. He has averaged nearly a yard more per rush on those runs than he has on runs outside the tackles.

Murray could exploit a Bears defense that has struggled to stop the inside run.

The Bears have allowed 4.9 yards per rush on runs inside the tackles, third worst in the NFL. Since 2006, the Bears have never had a season in which they allowed more than 4.3 yards per rush on such runs. Since Lance Briggs was injured in Week 7, the Bears have allowed over 100 yards on runs inside the tackles in all five games. The Bears had allowed over 100 such rushing yards twice in their first seven games when Briggs was active.

Patriots' rally is almost one of a kind

November, 25, 2013

USA TODAY Sports/Greg M. CooperTom Brady and the Patriots rallied from a 24-0 halftime deficit
With their 34-31 overtime victory Sunday night, the Patriots became just the 2nd team since 2001 to win a game after trailing by at least 24 points at the end of the 1st half. The only other team to win after trailing by that much? Denver last season against San Diego.

Since 2001, teams are 2-148 in games in which they trailed by at least 24 points at the end of the 1st half.

Patriots special teams added 11.8 expected points Sunday, their most in a game since 2010. Tony Carter’s fumble on Ryan Allen’s punt with 3:11 left in overtime added 4.6 expected points for the Patriots. Stephen Gostkowski kicked the 31-yard game-winner 2 plays later.

Should the Packers have gone for it?
Packers head coach Mike McCarthy opted to kick the field goal on 4th-and-2 in overtime, thereby giving the Vikings a chance to match Green Bay’s field goal and extend the game.

But according to ESPN’s win probability model, this decision did not give the Packers their best chance of winning. Going for the touchdown would have made a Packers victory more likely.

Since 2001, NFL teams are 30-for-66 scoring a TD on 4th-and-goal from the 2 (45%). Taking into account the risk of not making it, the Packers would have had an 82 percent win probability had they gone for the touchdown on 4th-and-goal.

After the field goal, the Packers had a win probability of 71%. If they had not scored the touchdown, they would have had a win probability of 67% with the Vikings taking over inside their own 5-yard line.

There was very little to gain from making the field goal - approximately 71% chance to win versus 67% if the Packers missed but left the Vikings backed up.

The upside of the touchdown – guaranteed victory – makes going for it, given the fact that teams had scored a touchdown on 45% percent of previous such attempts, the better decision.

Romo leads Cowboys over Giants
On the 1st 10 Cowboys drives against the Giants, Tony Romo posted a total QBR of 32.3. The Cowboys converted 12.5 percent of their third downs and punted 7 times.

On the final drive, Romo posted a 92.8 QBR and went 3-for-3 on third down, converting all of those attempts for 1st downs. The Cowboys chewed 4:45 of clock as they drove 64 yards downfield, allowing Dan Bailey to kick the 35-yard game-winning field goal as time expired.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise – since 2011, Romo has 11 game-winning drives in the 4th quarter or overtime, most in the NFL.

Over last 3 seasons, Romo has posted a 75.0 Total QBR with his team trailing by one score or tied in the 4th quarter or overtime, 4th best among quarterbacks with at least 10 such games in that span.

Chiefs’ offense thrives, defense struggles against Chargers
It was a wild one in Kansas City, as the Chiefs and Chargers traded blows, but the usually dominant Chiefs defense could not keep up with San Diego.

Entering the week, the Chiefs defense had added an average of 9.4 expected points per game, best in the league and on pace to be the best by any defense since 2009.

Sunday, the Chiefs D posted a minus-25.0 EPA, the 9th-worst EPA posted by a defense in any game this year. Chargers receivers ran for 228 yards after the catch, the most the Chiefs have allowed since at least 2006. Philip Rivers posted an 86.7 QBR, more than 59.4 rating points higher than the Chiefs NFL-best average entering the week.

While the Chiefs defense struggled, the offense was the best it’s been in a while. The Chiefs offense posted a 16.4 EPA, the best output Kansas City has had in a game since 2010. Alex Smith posted a season-high 79.4 Total QBR.

Romo gets it done late more often than not

November, 7, 2013

AP Photo/Tim SharpTony Romo and Jason Garrett have had plenty to celebrate the last three seasons.
Because of the up-and-down nature of Tony Romo's last few seasons, here's a stat that may get overlooked.

Romo has 10 game-winning drives in fourth quarter or overtime since the start of the 2011 season, tied for the most in the NFL over that span.

Here's a brief recap of each one:

September 18, 2011 (Week 2) at 49ers
Cowboys overcome 10-point fourth-quarter deficit

The Cowboys overcame a 24-14 fourth-quarter deficit in San Francisco to beat the 49ers 27-24 in overtime. Romo threw a 77-yard pass to wide receiver Jesse Holley on the Cowboys first play in overtime to set Dallas up for the chip-shot field goal.

September 26, 2011 (Week 3) vs Redskins
Romo’s long pass sparks win

A week later, Romo was at it again. He completed a 30-yard pass to Dez Bryant on third and 21 with the Cowboys at their own 30, trailing by one point and 2:20 left in the fourth quarter. Dallas went on to win 18-16 after a Dan Bailey 40-yard field goal.

November 20, 2011 (Week 11) at Redskins
Romo beats Redskins again in similar fashion

Romo broke the Redskins hearts again, this time in overtime as he completed a 26-yard pass to Dez Bryant on 3rd and 15 near midfield. The Cowboys won 27-24 on a Bailey field goal three plays later.

November 24, 2011 (Week 12) vs Dolphins
Cowboys win as time expires on Thanksgiving

Four days later, Romo instrumented his fourth game-winning drive of the season. He led the Cowboys down the field on a 10-play, 54-yard drive and Dallas won 20-19 on a Bailey field goal as time expired.

October 21, 2012 (Week 7) at Panthers
Romo’s first of five game-winning drives in 2012

Romo led the Cowboys past the Panthers 19-14 with his first of five game-winning drives in 2012. Romo engineered a short drive that ended with a Bailey field goal with 3:28 left in the fourth quarter to push Dallas ahead.

November 18, 2012 (Week 11) vs Browns
Cowboys survive in overtime

Romo survived seven sacks in the game to lead the Cowboys on a fourth-quarter comeback after trailing 13-3 entering the quarter. He led a drive to tie the game at 20 with six seconds left. They went on to win 23-20 against the Browns in overtime. A key play was a 28-yard touchdown pass to Bryant erasing that 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

December 2, 2012 (Week 13) vs Eagles
Romo posts 95.5 Total QBR in comeback win

Romo threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns and posted a 95.5 Total QBR as the Cowboys scored 21 fourth-quarter points in a 38-33 win. Romo threw another key pass to Bryant, a go-ahead 6-yard touchdown with 5:40 left to put the Cowboys up for good.

December 9, 2012 (Week 14) at Bengals
Cowboys overcome nine-point fourth-quarter deficit

A week later, Romo led the Cowboys past the Bengals overcoming a 9-point deficit in the fourth quarter. This included a 27-yard touchdown pass to Bryant with 6:44 left and a 13-play, 50-yard drive resulting in a Bailey game-winning 40-yard field goal as time expired (Cowboys win 20-19).

December 16, 2012 (Week 15) vs Steelers
Romo’s third straight game-winning drive in the fourth quarter/overtime

Romo engineered his third game-winning drive in as many weeks with a 27-24 overtime win against the Steelers. It wasn’t much of a drive as Ben Roethlisberger threw a pass picked off by Brandon Carr, Romo kneeled down on Dallas’ first play and Bailey kicked a 21-yard field goal to win.

November 3, 2013 (Week 9) vs Vikings
Romo throws go-ahead TD with 42 seconds left

And last Sunday Romo went from goat to hero in one quarter. His fourth-quarter interception with 4:35 left dropped the Cowboys’ win probability to 21.4 percent. But he got a second chance and engineered a nine-play, 90-yard drive to put the Cowboys ahead of the Vikings with 42 seconds left, including a key 34-yard pass to Bryant.

Romo will look to work the same magic against the Saints this Sunday that almost gave the Cowboys a miracle comeback win last season against New Orleans. The Cowboys trailed 31-17 with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter when Romo led two quick touchdown drives (1:10 and 1:14) to send the game to overtime. This included a 19-yard touchdown pass to Miles Austin on 4th and 10 with 21 seconds left. Dallas went on to lose 34-31 in overtime.

He'll also be fighting the Cowboys history under the prime-time spotlight.

This will be the 24th time in the last five seasons that the Cowboys will play a prime-time game, the most in the NFL. The Cowboys are 10-13 in their previous 23 primetime games in the last five seasons and only 2-8 in such games on the road since 2010.

Evan Kaplan also contributed to this post.

Tom Brady gets back on track

November, 4, 2013

Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY SportsTom Brady played his best game of the season on Sunday, posting a Total QBR of 97.7.
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 84 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Brady dominates
Tom Brady posted season-highs Sunday with a 97.7 Total QBR, four touchdown passes and 432 yards passing. He had a huge day after throwing for only two touchdowns in his previous four games.

Brady completed 8-of-12 (66.7 percent) passes for 290 yards and four touchdowns on throws more than 15 yards downfield. He completed 30.3 percent of such throws this season entering Sunday, ranked 29th in the NFL, with two touchdowns in eight games.

Where QBR and passer rating differ
Andrew Luck had a 99.3 Total QBR in the fourth quarter Sunday night(6-8 passing, 119 yards, 2 TD), raising his fourth-quarter Total QBR to 83.8 this season, the fifth best in the NFL. His fourth-quarter Passer Rating is 73.0 this season, tied for 21st in the NFL.

Foles picks apart Raiders
Nick Foles had a 99.1 Total QBR, a mark only surpassed by one performance this season: Colin Kaepernick. Foles became the third quarterback to throw seven touchdown passes in a game without throwing an interception, joining Y.A. Tittle (1962 New York Giants) and Peyton Manning (Week 1, 2013). Click here for more on Foles' great day.

Newton solid again
Cam Newton posted a 70.5 Total QBR Sunday, his fourth straight game with a Total QBR over 70 (65 to 70 over a season is a Pro Bowl-level rating). Newton has an 83.5 Total QBR since Week 6, the second-best in the NFL behind Colin Kaepernick.

Smith shaky, but a winner
Geno Smith finished with a 14.8 Total QBR in the Jets' win on Sunday. That's the second-lowest Total QBR by a winning QB this season (minimum 15 action plays). The only one lower was a 9.8 by E.J. Manuel of the Bills against the Ravens in Week 4.

Win probability on Cowboys comeback
Sunday, Tony Romo went from goat to hero in one quarter. His fourth quarter interception with 4:35 left dropped the Cowboys’ win probability to just 21.4 percent. But he got a second chance and engineered a nine play, 90-yard drive to put the Cowboys ahead of the Vikings with 0:42 seconds left.

The Cowboys' win probability was at 32.6 percent with 2:44 left when their final drive started, but rose by 20.3 percentage points after a 34-yard pass to Dez Bryant, and 38.3 percentage points to 97.5 after his go-ahead touchdown pass.

Quick hitters
Case Keenum had a Total QBR of 96.6, the highest Total QBR by a Texans quarterback since 2006. The previous single-game high for a Texans quarterback this season was 63.5 (Matt Schaub - Week 6). It was also the highest Total QBR in a loss over the last five seasons.

Jason Campbell posted a 76.5 Total QBR Sunday and his 60.1 Total QBR this season ranks 13th in the NFL (min. 75 action plays). Brian Hoyer and Brandon Weeden rank 22nd and 38th respectively in Total QBR this season.

Alex Smith had a 30.5 Total QBR against the Bills, his fourth win this season with a Total QBR of less than 40 (most in the NFL).

The two faces of Tony Romo

October, 7, 2013

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
It seems like Tony Romo is always struggling late in games, but is that what defines him as a QB?

Tony Romo became the 15th player in NFL history to throw for 500 yards in a game on Sunday, breaking Don Meredith's Cowboys record for a single game. However, a fourth-quarter interception set the Broncos up to pull out an epic 51-48 win.

So, who is the real Cowboys quarterback – Dr. Romo or the Romo-coaster?

Dr. Romo

Despite the late mistake Sunday, Romo had arguably the best game by a quarterback in a loss this season. No quarterback has posted a higher QBR in a defeat this season than his 92.1 yesterday.

Since he entered the league, Romo has consistently put up some of the best numbers in the NFL.

Romo has 19 game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime, tied for fifth-most since he took over the starting job in 2006. He has a career 68.7 QBR in the 4th quarter - only Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers are better since 2006.

This season, Romo is second in the NFL with 13 touchdown passes. And only Peyton Manning has fewer interceptions among quarterbacks with at least 30 pass attempts per.


Despite his overall success, the other side of the coin for Dr. Romo is that sickening feeling he often leaves Cowboys fans late in games – something we’ll refer to as the Romo-coaster.

Romo's lone interception Sunday was the 23rd fourth-quarter interception of his career. The Cowboys have lost the last eight games in which Romo has thrown a fourth-quarter interception, with six of those losses coming by seven points or fewer.

Since 2010, Romo's Total QBR in the first 12 minutes of the fourth quarter/OT is 80. That's second-best in the NFL behind Peyton Manning. However, his QBR drops to a below-average 44 in the game's final three minutes.

And he's not only making these mistakes as the Cowboys attempt to rally from late deficits. Eight of Romo's fourth-quarter interceptions have come with the Cowboys tied or leading by one score - that's the most in the NFL in that span. Those give opposing teams life when Dallas should have been icing the win.

Sunday's interception was particularly painful, dropping the chances for a Cowboys win by 26 percentage points. That was the second worst interception of Week 5 in terms of a single play costing a team’s chances at victory behind Blaine Gabbert’s pick-six for Jacksonville, but that play came in the first half so Gabbert’s team still had an opportunity to overcome that drop.


While it seems like Tony Romo is often throwing away games in the fourth quarter, he actually has fewer fourth-quarter interceptions (23) in the last eight seasons than such “clutch” quarterbacks as Drew Brees (35), Ben Roethlisberger (30) and Brett Favre (25). Dr. Romo does more than enough for the Cowboys to offset the appearances of the Romo-coaster.

Manning, Romo put on show in Dallas

October, 7, 2013

Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post/Getty ImagesTony Romo threw for a franchise-record 506 yards but a costly pick helped give Denver the win.
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 84 percent of the time. Complete QBR statistics for all quarterbacks can be found here.

Manning and Romo duel in Dallas
Peyton Manning (93.7) and Tony Romo (92.1) both posted Total QBRs over 90 while tallying more than 40 action plays. It is only the second game since 2006 in which two opposing quarterbacks each posted a Total QBR greater than 90 with that many action plays (David Garrard and Matt Schaub – Week 4, 2008).

Peyton Manning has a Total QBR of at least 93.7 in three straight games. Aaron Rodgers is the only other quarterback with a Total QBR that high in three straight games (Week 6-9 in 2011) during the last eight seasons. Manning also did it with the Colts from Week 4 to Week 7 in 2009.

Romo’s Total QBR Sunday was the highest for a starting quarterback in a loss this season.

Romo throws costly interception
Tony Romo’s interception with 2:04 left in the 4th quarter Sunday dropped the Cowboys’ win probability by 25.9 percent. Romo has thrown six interceptions during the last three seasons that have dropped his team’s win probability by at least 20 percent. Only Matt Schaub and Eli Manning have more (seven).

Brady, Pats offense struggles
Tom Brady’s 16.8 Total QBR against the Bengals was his worst in a game since Week 14 of the 2006 season (lost 21-0 to the Dolphins).

The Patriots have an offensive EPA per game of -3.3 this season (-12.0 in Week 5). So the Patriots actually contribute three fewer expected points than an average offense. This is rare for a Patriots offense that finished the season with the most offensive expected points added in two of the last four seasons.

Quick hitters
• Matt Schaub posted a 4.9 Total QBR Sunday, his 2nd-lowest in a start since the start of 2006 (only made 2 starts prior to 2006 season). Schaub’s 35.4 Total QBR this season ranks 27th in the league among qualified quarterbacks, after he ranked 12th in the league last season.

• Kansas City Chiefs had a Defensive EPA of 4.7 Sunday, and their defense has added an expected 65.6 points to their team’s net points this season. No other defense has an expected points added total higher than 30 this season.

• Eli Manning posted a 47.5 Total QBR Sunday, and his Total QBR is 34.2 this season, his lowest in his first five starts of a season dating back to 2006 (Total QBR era). He also had three intentional grounding penalties Sunday. No quarterback has committed more than two intentional grounding penalties in a game since the start of 2001.

• Nick Foles filled in admirably for Michael Vick Sunday. His 84.6 Total QBR is the highest among 30 quarterbacks who have come off the bench and had at least 20 action plays during the last 3 seasons.

• Cam Newton’s 5.7 Total QBR was the 2nd-lowest in a game in his career (1.6 vs Broncos in Week 10 last season). Newton was sacked seven times and threw three interceptions against the Cardinals – all when facing five or more pass rushers.

Top stats to know: Broncos 51, Cowboys 48

October, 6, 2013
Normally when we look at a football game, we try to come up with five good notes to know.

But the epic matchup between the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys on Sunday required more than that.

So with that in mind, we’ll run through our top 12 statistical highlights of the Broncos' 51-48 win, with major help throughout from the Elias Sports Bureau

1-- This was the fourth-highest scoring non-overtime game in NFL history with the teams combining for 99 points. That’s 14 shy of the NFL record set in 1966 by the Washington Redskins and New York Giants.

2-- The two teams combined for 884 passing yards, tied for the third most in an NFL game.

3-- The Broncos have now won 16 straight regular-season games. That’s tied for the fifth-longest streak in NFL history, seven games shy of the record of 23 games by the Indianapolis Colts from 2008 to 2009.

4-- The Broncos set an NFL record for most points through the first five games of a season with 230. The previous mark was set by the St. Louis Rams with 217 in 2000.

5-- The Cowboys' 48 points in a loss is one shy of the NFL record, set when the 1963 Houston Oilers scored 49 points in a loss to the Raiders.

6-- Peyton Manning threw four more touchdown passes for the Broncos. His 20 touchdown passes through five games is the most through five games in NFL history and also the record for the most touchdown passes before his an interception.

7-- Manning threw for 414 yards, giving him 10 career games with at least 400 passing yards. That's tied with Drew Brees for second most, trailing only Dan Marino's 13. Manning’s 1,884 yards for the season are second-most in NFL history by a quarterback through five games, the most since Kurt Warner threw for 1,947 for the 2000 Rams.

8-- Manning completed 78.6 percent of his 42 attempts for 414 yards and four touchdowns. None of those numbers are a season high. Manning's 1,884 yards are the most by a quarterback through five games since Kurt Warner threw for 1,947 for the 2000 Rams.

9-- Tony Romo threw for a Cowboys single-game record 506 yards and also had five touchdown passes. His 506 passing yards are the 12th-most in a game in NFL history. He is the fifth quarterback to throw for at least 500 yards and five touchdowns in an NFL game.

10-- The Cowboys also became the second team in AFL/NFL history to have three players with at least 120 receiving yards and a touchdown catch in the same game. The only other team to do it was the AFL’s Houston Oilers in 1961 against the New York Titans (now known as the Jets). Dez Bryant was one of those three, as he finished with six catches for 141 yards and two touchdowns. Yet the Cowboys are now 1-7 in Bryant’s career when he catches multiple touchdown passes.

11-- The decisive play of the game was Romo’s late interception. The Cowboys have now lost the last eight games in which Romo has thrown a fourth-quarter interception, with six of the eight losses being by seven points or less.

12-- The Broncos' next opponent is the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Broncos scored 51 points this week (making them the fourth team ever to score 50 points in consecutive games). The Jaguars have scored 51 points this season.