< Back to front page Text size +

Quick thoughts on the extension of Tebowmania

Posted by Andrew Mooney  December 11, 2011 10:26 PM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Enough exclamation points will be printed in the coming days regarding Tim Tebow's latest escape act, so I thought I'd let the numbers do the talking. Below is the wildly fluctuating win probability graph from advancednflstats.com, covering the entirety of the Broncos' ridiculous 13-10 overtime victory.

The biggest single-play swings (+/- refers to Denver's chances of victory):

+0.38 WP -- Matt Prater's game-tying 59-yard field goal at the end of regulation. I actually think this drastically understates Prater's chances of making the field goal; a win probability of 0.01 at the start of the play seems far too low. Conversion rates from this distance hover between 35 and 40 percent, and may be even higher for a kicker with a leg like Prater's. Regardless, it was still arguably the game's largest turning point and most unlikely play -- until the next one on this list.

+0.35 WP -- Marion Barber's fumble in overtime, derailing the Bears' potential game-winning drive. By the way, Barber had lost exactly five fumbles in 1,298 career touches entering this week, a rate of 0.39 percent.

+0.29 WP -- Matt Prater's 51-yard, game-winning field goal in overtime, extinguishing whatever doubt remained in the football world that this sport makes sense.

-0.23 WP -- Tebow's scramble for no gain on 3rd and 10, forcing the Broncos into Prater's desperation 59-yard attempt with 14 seconds left in regulation.

+0.18 WP -- Tebow's 19-yard pass to Matt Willis with 30 seconds left in regulation that advanced the Broncos from their own 40-yard line to the Chicago 41, putting Denver within Prater's range.

For all his late heroics, remember that, at one point, Tebow was 3-for-16 on his passing attempts; that is, until the Bears decided to extend Tebowmania another week by playing an extreme prevent defense, with two deep safeties about 30 yards from the line of scrimmage. Tebow took what they gave him, completed 18 of his next 24 passes, and set the stage for a crazy spectacle next weekend in Denver.

As great as I think the disparity in overall team quality is between the Patriots and the Broncos, the head-to-head matchup may be much closer than expected. Denver's problem has been scoring, especially in the first half; New England's problem has been stopping anyone from scoring. If the offense sputters early, with the Broncos' fierce, young pass rush in Tom Brady's face, the Pats may find themselves face-to-face with the prospect of more late-game Tebow magic -- and, as we've seen, that's when you can throw team quality and win probabilities right out the window.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Stats Driven is powered by David Sabino, who over the last two decades has been a source of statistical analysis on the pages of Sports Illustrated, New York Times, and Chicago Tribune. David has written about all seven recent Boston-area championships for Sports Illustrated Presents commemorative issues, was the creator of such long time features as SI’s Player Value Ranking, NBA Player Rating and long running fantasy football and baseball columns.

He has also authored or made contributions to many books, including the Sports Illustrated’s 100 Fenway: A Fascinating First Century.

Now living in Marblehead, he’s focusing his attention on the Boston sports scene, specifically delving into the numbers affecting the Red Sox, Patriots, Celtics and Bruins, with the goal of informing and entertaining real fans. You can follow him on Twitter at @SabinoSports.

More community voices

[an error occurred while processing this directive]

Child in Mind

Corner Kicks

Dirty Old Boston

Mortal Matters

On Deck

TEDx Beacon Street


browse this blog

by category