This is our old blog. It hasn't been active since 2011. Please see the link above for our current blog or click the logo above to see all of the great data and content on this site.

Archive for December, 2010

Most interceptions by Quarterback-Defender pairing

31st December 2010

Which player has intercepted which quarterback the most? Who has picked off Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Dan Marino or Joe Montana more than anyone else? Against which quarterbacks did Rod Woodson, Deion Sanders and Mel Blount pad their numbers? Those answers and more, below.

I used the same methodology I used in the most pick-sixes in NFL history post to determine which quarterback threw which interception to each defender. For the purposes of this study, I included all interceptions in any post-season game in league history and interceptions in any regular season games since 1960. For each interception thrown in any of those games, the defensive player was given X/Y interceptions against the quarterback, where X represents the number of interceptions thrown by that quarterback in that game and Y stands for the number of team interceptions thrown by the quarterback's team in that game. As a result, this post is more of an approximation than an exact science.

The leader in quarterback-defensive player pairing interceptions? Over a six-year period, Broncos cornerback Steve Foley terrorized Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts. Foley had two interceptions in a 17-0 shutout against the Chargers in November 1976; Fouts threw two picks while Clint Longley had three more, which means Fouts is blamed for 40% of the two interceptions Foley had that day, or 0.8 INTs. In December '77, with the Orange Crush at full bore, Foley picked off Fouts in a 17-9 Broncos victory. Their next matchup came in September 1978, and Foley intercepted Fouts again in a Denver win. On Monday Night Football in the 1979 season finale, Foley caught two passes from Fouts, only one fewer than Charlie Joiner. Fouts and Air Corywell was running at top speed in 1980, but Foley picked him off in both matchups, first in Denver and then in a road victory in San Diego. Their next meeting came in September '81, and Foley intercepted three Fouts passes. Maybe after that, Fouts learned not to throw the ball in Foley's direction. All told, including the "0.8 interceptions' in that '76 game, and Foley recorded 9.8 interceptions against the Hall of Fame quarterback.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Quarterbacks, Statgeekery | 12 Comments »

Bring back this idea: mid-week pre-playoff playoff games

23rd December 2010

File this under "I know that most stuff that happened before I was born was quaint, but not this quaint"....

As the final week of the 1970 season approached, the Vikings had clinched the NFC Central, but the West and East were up for grabs, as was the wildcard (or, as it was known at the time, "the playoff berth for the best second-place team"), with the Cardinals, Cowboys, Giants, Lions, Rams and 49ers all in the mix for three available slots. Back then, the tiebreakers were simpler: (1) head to head, (2) conference record, (3) coin flip.

As the various scenarios were examined, it began to dawn on people that a coin flip was not a remote possibility at all. A Lions/Cowboys coin flip seemed somewhat likely, and some newspaper articles referred to a potential three-way "telephonic coin flip" between the Lions, Cowboys, and Giants. My search for an explanation of the mechanics of the three-way flip ended without success.

But if Lions' GM Russ Thomas had his way, there would have been no mechanics necessary. From this UPI article:

Lions' General Manager Russ Thomas has proposed that the Lions be allowed to meet the Dallas Cowboys in a special playoff game next Wednesday instead of conducting a coin toss if the two teams tie for the playoff spot.

Lions' coach and former broken-glass-eating middle linebacker Joe Schmidt was, of course, ready to play anyone any time. Uh, but only because it was less "lousy" than a coin flip. Unfortunately, Pete Rozelle informed Thomas that such a proposal would require unanimous approval from all 26 owners, and speculated that that was extremely unlikely.

In the end, the Rams saved us the hassle by dominating the Giants 31-3. This allowed both Dallas and Detroit to control their own destinies, and both won their games easily.

Just a few weeks later, Rozelle admitted that the situation had him worried (exact words: "we damn near got burned and had to flip a coin.") and that the competition committee would probably be making some changes, but that pre-playoff playoff games were not a possibility.

Posted in History, Insane ideas | 8 Comments »

Send us Your Suggestions!

22nd December 2010

Just a friendly reminder that we welcome site feedback/suggestions via our feedback form:

User Feedback -

You can also email us directly at this address. We'll try to respond to everything within a week (although it may take longer this time of year, due to the holidays).

Posted in Announcements, Site Features | 20 Comments »

Checkdowns: DeSean Jackson’s Punt Return, in Tecmo Form

20th December 2010

From Tecmo-master Jordan Slocum:

"This one was probably the hardest to do, since punt returns are near impossible naturally on the game.  But DeSean Jackson earned it."

Yes he did.

Posted in Checkdowns, Tecmo Super Bowl | 2 Comments »

Four of the NFL’s Six Worst Teams (by SRS) Are in NFC West

19th December 2010

This one doesn't need a whole lot of explanation... According to the home-field-adjusted Simple Rating System, the NFC West contains four of the six worst teams in the entire league:

Rank Team Games Offense Defense Overall
1 NWE 14 12.59 0.54 13.13
2 GNB 14 2.34 7.29 9.63
3 PIT 14 0.82 7.54 8.36
4 SDG 14 3.49 3.28 6.77
5 PHI 14 7.88 -1.51 6.37
6 ATL 14 4.23 1.98 6.21
7 RAV 14 1.51 4.35 5.86
8 NYJ 14 0.00 5.07 5.08
9 NYG 14 1.83 1.97 3.80
10 CLT 14 3.55 -0.27 3.28
11 OTI 14 -0.30 3.36 3.06
12 NOR 14 2.22 0.17 2.39
13 CHI 13 -3.25 5.29 2.04
14 MIA 14 -2.79 4.17 1.38
15 DET 14 1.48 -0.65 0.83
16 KAN 14 -1.33 1.36 0.03
17 CLE 14 -3.43 3.34 -0.09
18 RAI 14 2.11 -2.70 -0.59
19 MIN 13 -3.27 2.01 -1.26
20 HTX 14 2.30 -3.80 -1.50
21 DAL 14 3.85 -5.52 -1.67
22 JAX 14 0.04 -2.37 -2.33
23 BUF 14 0.13 -2.93 -2.81
24 TAM 14 -2.31 -0.54 -2.86
25 CIN 14 0.07 -3.39 -3.32
26 WAS 14 -3.00 -0.94 -3.94
27 RAM 14 -5.88 -0.64 -6.52
28 SFO 14 -5.80 -0.96 -6.76
29 SEA 14 -3.40 -5.92 -9.32
30 DEN 14 -1.44 -8.20 -9.65
31 CRD 14 -5.43 -6.43 -11.86
32 CAR 14 -9.28 -4.40 -13.68
Lg PPG: 22.14
HFA: 1.81

Posted in Simple Rating System | 24 Comments »

Checkdowns: Josh Wilson’s Pick-6, in Tecmo Form

15th December 2010

Friend of the PFR Blog Jordan Slocum has another Tecmo Super Bowl video for us today -- this time, a recreation of Josh Wilson's game-ending interception of Matt Schaub on MNF:

Why is it that the Texans have been involved in so many Tecmo-worthy plays this season (and usually on the receiving end)?

Posted in Checkdowns, Tecmo Super Bowl, YouTube Finds | 4 Comments »

Historical NFL Training Camp Locations –

15th December 2010

2010 NFL Training Camp Locations - / Chicago Bears Training Camp History

Every once and awhile we get an e-mail with some neat new dataset that they have put together. Earlier this fall, Andrew McKillop sent us a set of research he's been doing on training camp location. That material is now on our franchise and year pages. Included below is the source material Andrew used to research this data.

Andrew wrote an extensive article in the history of NFL Training Camps for his blog. Be sure to check it out.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Announcements, General | 2 Comments »

Full Coaching Resumes on Coach Pages

15th December 2010

Eric Studesville Record, Statistics, and Category Ranks -

Just a quick reminder that we have year-by-year resumes for NFL coaches on our coaching pages. And if you want to know what a quality control coach does. Here is a good article from the New York Times from a year ago.

Posted in General | Comments Off on Full Coaching Resumes on Coach Pages

Site Features: Check Out the Play Index!

10th December 2010

This is just a quick reminder for everyone to check out the Pro-Football-Reference Play Index. In case you don't already know about the PI, it's a set of research tools that allow you to create customizable queries on our database, save the results, and share them with others. With the PI, you can:

  • Use the Player Season Finder to search through every player's stats (since 1920) for single or combined seasons that match your criteria.
  • Use the Player Game Finder to search through our game logs (since 1960) for individual games that match your criteria.
  • Use the Player Touchdown Finder to search through every TD since 1940 for plays that match your criteria.
  • Use the Team Game Finder to isolate specific games or seasons matching certain criteria.
  • Use the Super Bowl Play Finder to search through every play in Super Bowl History (we'll be adding 2009 soon as well -- our apologies for the delay!)
  • Use the PFR Draft Finder to search through every NFL and AFL draft pick.
  • Use our Boxscore Search Tools to find head-to-head results, or all-time games matching a particular score.

And best of all, these features are 100% free to use!

So go ahead, give them a try, and you'll wonder how you ever got along without them.

Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News, Play Index, Site Features | 10 Comments »

Checkdowns: Manning & Brady Nearly Tied in Lifetime Passer Rating

9th December 2010

Here's a checkdown sent to us by Eddy Elfenbein, who points out an interesting fact:

"Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are nearly tied in the NFL’s (mostly useless) Passer Rating.


[T]he Manning camp could always say that their guy had the better passing rating. This was true for most of the past few years.

But thanks to throwing 11 interceptions in the last three weeks, Manning’s Passer Rating has dropped 94.7567. Tom Brady’s is 94.6978. They’re now separated by less than 0.06 points. Just seven weeks ago, Manning was leading by over two full points. Four years ago, he was leading by more than six points."

Eddy goes on to show an incredible week-by-week graph, illustrating the two players' career passer ratings since 2002.

In Manning's defense (and like Eddy points out), passer rating is a flawed metric. Also, if you examine the graph, Manning's career rating is basically the same as it was in 2008 -- the real change has been almost entirely on the part of Brady, who's improved from 88 to 95 in just three full seasons. Besides, Manning is also a year older than Brady, so he could be hitting his decline phase while Brady is still at his peak (yes, this is grasping at straws, but I want to avoid the appearance of this being Patriots homer week).

Even so, after the 2006 season it was almost inconceivable that Brady and Manning's regular-season ratings would be even by 2010.

Posted in Checkdowns, Trivia | 168 Comments »

Site Features: Approximate Value Leaderboards!

9th December 2010

In a move that's admittedly long overdue, we've added Doug's Approximate Value metric to a variety of places throughout the site:

And as always, you can search for AV leaders using the PFR Play Index's Season Finder (example).

Also, we overhauled the main AV page to make it more user-friendly, added a sub-page for Doug's extended explanation of the method, and created a blog category for AV to make it easier to find past and future posts that feature the stat.

Posted in Announcements, Approximate Value, P-F-R News, Play Index, Site Features | 11 Comments »

New York Times Posts: Weeks 10-13

9th December 2010

This week, with the help of Pro Football Focus, I wrote about the emergence of a group of elite, young left tackles.

In week 12, I (regrettably) wrote a post quantifying the importance of the Jets-Patriots showdown.

Three weeks ago, the topic of the day was the huge receiving years by both Roddy White and Brandon Lloyd. Since then, Lloyd's gained only 107 receiving yards on 6 catcehs the last two weeks, although he's turned two of those into touchdowns; White has 12 catches for 123 yards and no scores over that span. Both are still on pace for 1,500 yard seasons.

In week 10, I asked if the Jets were a great team or a good team. I answered that question correctly then, but apparently forgot the answer between then and the Monday night game against New England.

Posted in Announcements | 2 Comments »

PI Finds: Patriots Shellack Jets

8th December 2010

In honor of the Patriots' vicious beatdown of the Jets Monday night, here are some stats from the Team Game Finder...

New England's romp featured the 2nd-biggest margin of victory in any 2010 game:

Rk Tm Year Date Opp W# G# Day Result PF PA PD
1 OAK 2010 2010-10-24 @ DEN 7 7 Sun W 59-14 59 14 45
2 NWE 2010 2010-12-06 NYJ 13 12 Mon W 45-3 45 3 42
3 DET 2010 2010-10-10 STL 5 5 Sun W 44-6 44 6 38
4 GNB 2010 2010-11-07 DAL 9 9 Sun W 45-7 45 7 38
5 ATL 2010 2010-09-19 ARI 2 2 Sun W 41-7 41 7 34
6 NYG 2010 2010-11-07 @ SEA 9 8 Sun W 41-7 41 7 34
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2010.

It also tied the 2nd-biggest rout in Monday Night Football history:

Rk Tm Year Date Opp W# G# Day Result PF PA PD
1 BAL 2005 2005-12-19 GNB 15 14 Mon W 48-3 48 3 45
2 MIA 1986 1986-11-24 NYJ 12 12 Mon W 45-3 45 3 42
3 NWE 2010 2010-12-06 NYJ 13 12 Mon W 45-3 45 3 42
4 SEA 2005 2005-12-05 @ PHI 13 12 Mon W 42-0 42 0 42
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/8/2010.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in PI Finds, Play Index, Simple Rating System, Site Features, Totally Useless, Trivia | 11 Comments »

PI Finds: Most Overtime Games by One Team

1st December 2010

Today we have an inquiry from PFR reader Jose:

"No one seems to know the answer to this question: What is the record for most OT games in a season by one team?"

Thanks to an upgrade made to the Play Index Team Game Finder by S-R president Sean Forman, we can now use PFR's site tools to answer this question.

Just go to the Team Game Finder, select "Search for Season Games matching criteria," and check the OT radio button at the bottom left-hand side of the finder interface ("Overtime Game"=Yes). Click "Get Results," and here's what you come up with:

Rk Tm Year W L T W-L% Count
1 Carolina Panthers 2003 4 1 0 0.800 5
2 Green Bay Packers 1983 2 3 0 0.400 5
3 Atlanta Falcons 2002 1 2 1 0.375 4
4 Cleveland Browns 1986 3 1 0 0.750 4
5 Cleveland Browns 1989 1 2 1 0.375 4
6 Arizona Cardinals 1997 1 3 0 0.250 4
7 Arizona Cardinals 1995 2 2 0 0.500 4
8 Denver Broncos 1985 2 2 0 0.500 4
9 Denver Broncos 2007 2 2 0 0.500 4
10 Minnesota Vikings 1994 2 2 0 0.500 4
11 Minnesota Vikings 1995 2 2 0 0.500 4
12 New York Jets 2004 1 3 0 0.250 4
13 San Diego Chargers 2002 3 1 0 0.750 4
14 San Francisco 49ers 2001 3 1 0 0.750 4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 12/1/2010.

This includes regular-season + OT games, but you can select either of those individually as well.

Posted in Announcements, PI Finds, Play Index | 8 Comments »