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    GameChangers Week 3 (09/23/13)

    John Ewing, Director of Research and Analytics, @johnewing
    By John Ewing
    GameChangers, a look at plays that impacted the outcomes of games around the league. If you have a suggestion for a GameChanger please direct all ideas via twitter to @johnewing.



    To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review three of the game-changing plays from the NFL and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently. 

    The Win: Redskins vs. Lions

    The ground cannot cause a fumble, except when it can. With 12:34 left in the 4th, game tied 17-17, RG3 scrambles for 21 yards to the Detroit 29, Griffin dives to the ground face-first. Griffin fumbles the ball when he hits the ground, because RG3 did not slide feet-first, the ground can cause a fumble. The Lions recover the ball and become 65.8% like to win in a tied game.
     
    Had Griffin slid feet-first or the Redskins recovered the fumble, Washington would have been 72.1% likely to win.

    Coaching Decision: Panthers vs. Giants
     
    Football analyst and Panthers fans alike have poured criticism on Ron Rivera for his conservative play calling when Carolina faces a 4th and 1. Before the game against the Giants, the Panthers were 2-14 in games decided by one score under Rivera.
     
    It appears that Rivera has heeded his critic’s advice. Facing a 4th and 1 from the Giants 1 yard line with 2:38 left in the 1st the Panthers elected to go for it. Mike Tolbert rewarded Rivera for his aggressive play calling scoring a touchdown and making the Panthers 66.1% likely to win.
     
    Had the Panthers opted to kick a field goal instead of going for it they would have only been 52.1% likely to win with a made field goal. Had the Giants made a goal line stand, the Panthers turned the ball over on downs, Carolina would have been 49.4% likely to win. There was virtually no downside to going for it; hopefully for Panthers fans, Rivera will be just as aggressive when there is a little more on the line.
     
    Fumble: Bengals vs. Packers

    With 3:52 left in the 4th, Packers leading 30-27, Jonathan Franklin fumbles as he attempts to dive for a first down on 4th and inches. Cincinnati’s Reggie Nelson recovers the ball but fumbles as he is being tackled, the Bengals’ Terence Newman is able to recover that fumble and runs it back 58 yards for a touchdown.
     
    The Packers were pretty unlucky in a number of ways during this sequence of events. First, had Franklin not fumbled and Green Bay gets the first down they become 87.4% likely to win.
     
    Second, had Reggie Nelson not fumbled the ball when he was being tackled, its Cincinnati’s ball, 1st and 10 from the Bengals 35, Green Bay would still have been favored to win 59.1% of the time despite the Bengals just needing a field goal to tie the game at home.  

    Charts Never Lie

    What does a win look like by a 10 point dog? It was a slow grind for the Colts @ 49ers.

    Seattle was 95% likely to win before the game began, with 40+ minutes remaining they were 99% likely to win but it took a Chad Henne interception with 3:40 left in the 4th to guarantee the cover for the Seahawks.
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