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    GameChangers Week 7 (10/20/14)

    By John Ewing Director of Research and Analytics @johnewing
    To highlight the Live ScoreCaster, we will take our in-game technology, Live ScoreCaster, to the next level to review the game-changing plays from the NFL and what the game would have looked like if the plays had turned out differently.



    Click the header for each game to view the Game Breakdown for each matchup.

    Seahawks vs. Rams


    St. Louis used a fake punt to hold off Seattle 28-26. The Seahawks had rallied from a 21-6 deficit at the half to pull within one score of the Rams with 3:18 to play. Seattle was set to get the ball back after forcing a three and out but St. Louis surprised their NFC West rival with a trick play.

    On 4th and 3 from their own 18-yard line, Rams punter Johnny Hekker completed an 18-yard pass for a first down. The fake punt increased St. Louis' expected win probability from 63 percent to 76 percent.

    Had the trick play not worked, Seattle would have become 76 percent likely to win needing only a field goal to win and starting inside the Rams 20-yard line.

    It is easy to give St. Louis credit for using the trick play after it was successful, but was the thought process sound regardless of the outcome?

    The other option the Rams had was to punt. Again only needing a field goal to win outright and having over two minutes remaining, Seattle would have become our projected winner had St. Louis punted the ball. While failure to convert on fourth down would have certainly made it easier for the Seahawks to win, punting did not offer a better option.

    The gutsy fake punt would have been forgotten if a controversial fumble recovery in the closing minute had gone Seattle's way. Three plays after the trick play, Rams running back Tre Mason rushed for a first down sealing the game since Seattle had no timeouts remaining but Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith stripped the rookie running back. The fumble appeared to be recovered by Seattle.

    The referees ruled the ball recovered by St. Louis; there was no review of the play. St. Louis took a knee and the Seahawks dropped to 3-3 on the season.

    Had Seattle been given possession, starting on the Seattle 32-yard line and needing a field goal to win, the Seahawks would have been 45% likely to beat the Rams. Remember, Seattle needed to go at least 30 yards with no timeouts in order to attempt a 50 plus yard field goal. Stop whining, Earl Thomas!

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Lions vs. Saints


    Trailing 23-10 in the fourth, Detroit had a 1 percent chance of winning. Matthew Stafford threw two touchdowns in the final four minutes as the Lions rallied to win 24-23.

    The game-winning touchdown was set up by a Drew Brees interception. The Saints turnover came on third and long and increased Detroit's expected win probability from 6 percent to 54 percent.

    Had the pass fallen incomplete and the Saints punted, the Lions would have only been 12 percent likely to win. The interception, compared to the punt (because of the difference in field position), was worth over 40 percent in expected win probability for Detroit.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Chiefs vs. Chargers


    Kansas City's Cairo Santos kicked a 48-yard field goal to snap San Diego's five game winning streak. Alex Smith gets credit for directing the drive as the Chiefs quarterback completed three straight passes for 53 yards. However, it was a scramble by Smith and a penalty on San Diego that created the largest play-to-play swing in the game.

    On second down from the Kansas City 8-yard line, Smith scampered up the middle for a nine yard gain and drew a facemask penalty on Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget. The run and penalty moved the ball from the 8-yard line to the Kansas City 32-yard line. The 24-yard gain was the largest on the drive.

    Kansas City's expected win probability increased from 36 percent to 69 percent.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

    Bills vs. Vikings


    Kyle Orton connected with Sammy Watkins on a 2-yard touchdown pass with one second left to give Buffalo a 17-16 victory. The game-winning touchdown capped off a 15 play, 80-yard drive that spanned over three minutes.

    Before the game winning drive, the Bills had an 8 percent chance of winning.

    In fact, the drive was even more impressive than it sounds. Buffalo needed a 24-yard pass to convert a 4th and 20 earlier in the possession. Before that play, the Bills only had a 1 percent chance of winning.

    For additional GameChanging notes from this game click here.

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