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Archive for September, 2011

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-3

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 28, 2011

The Patriots, Jets, Eagles and Falcons entered the season with Super Bowl aspirations, but all struggled on Sunday. The failures of those teams ranged from unusual (the Jets rush defense had its worst game ever under Ryan) to scary (the Falcons just aren't that good, Mike Vick can't seem to stay healthy) to both (the Pats D is really bad, and New England lost its first game ever when leading by 21 points under Belichick). Pittsburgh and San Diego get dishonorable mentions here, for squeaking by the Little Disters of the Poor, Midwest edition.

Read the full article here.

2 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Single-Game Performances Added to Leaders Index

Posted by Neil Paine on September 28, 2011

NFL Leaders, Football Records, NFL Leaderboards -

A quick note to let everyone know that we've added single-game leaders to the leaderboard index, including performances from 1940-1959. This means you can see exactly where Tom Brady's Week 1 performance stands all-time:

These records are relatively complete for the 1940-2011 period -- although we only have full box scores for games since 1960, we also have data on all 300+ yard passing & 100+ yard rushing/receiving games going back to 1940. For more in-depth searches on post-1960 records, you should use the Play Index Game Finder tool, but this option is good for quickly looking up single-game records over a greater span of seasons.

11 Comments | Posted in Announcements, Site Features

History Was Made in Last Sunday’s 49ers-Bengals Game

Posted by Neil Paine on September 28, 2011

On Monday, John Adair tweeted this about Sunday's San Francisco-Cincinnati game:

The 13-8 final score of the 49ers-Bengals game, according to Pro-Football-Reference, has never happened before in NFL history #49ers

How did he find that? Using the Game Scores PI tool, he was able to look for all games that ever had a 13-8 score:

Rk Week Day Date Winner/tie Loser/tie PtsW PtsL YdsW TOW YdsL TOL
1 3 Sun September 25, 2011 boxscore W San Francisco 49ers @ Cincinnati Bengals 13 8 226 1 228 3
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2011.

Pretty neat, right?

Here's another one for you -- last week's Saints-Texans game was only the 2nd in NFL history with a 40-33 score:

Rk Week Day Date Winner/tie Loser/tie PtsW PtsL YdsW TOW YdsL TOL
1 3 Sun September 24, 1989 boxscore W New York Jets @ Miami Dolphins 40 33 411 2 524 2
2 3 Sun September 25, 2011 boxscore W New Orleans Saints Houston Texans 40 33 454 2 473 1
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 9/28/2011.

So think of this feature the next time you see a score that just looks strange, and you too might uncover an historic final score first.

14 Comments | Posted in History, PI Finds, Site Features

Buffalo continues its comeback tradition

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 26, 2011

The most famous comeback in history happened in Buffalo. The second largest comeback in regular season history occurred inside of Rich Stadium. The largest comeback in the NFL last season came via the right arm of Ryan Fitzpatrick. And now, Orchard Park was the site of another record, as the Bills became the first team to ever come back from 18+ deficits to win in consecutive weeks.

From 2002 to 2010, 22 teams overcame a deficit of 18 points or more to win a game. So far this season, the Bills have come from 18 and 21 points back to win in consecutive weeks. At the same time, the Vikings lost 17 and 20 point leads to Tampa Bay and Detroit. Jason Lisk thinks the craziness might continue, thanks to the ridiculous passing numbers so far this season (more to come on this in a future post).

From 1945 to 2010, there were 126 games where the winning team was trailing by more than 17 points at some point in the game. While the Bills became the first team to win consecutive games after trailing by 18+ points, six other teams did that feat twice over the course of a season. In '96, Bill Parcells' Patriots did the trick against his former and future employer, and in the same stadium: New England trailed the Jets 21-0 in week 11 and the Giants 22-0 in week 17, but ended up winning both games. The '95 Colts came up one play shy of the Super Bowl, but began their never-say-die ways earlier in the season. Indianapolis won two divisions games 27-24, after trailing 24-3 in both games against the Jets and Dolphins. In 1983, the Falcons trailed the (you guessed it) Jets and Packers 21-0 over the course of five weeks, but won both games by six points.

On the other side of things, it's hard to envision a more anxiety-inducing three weeks than weeks six through eight of the 1987 season for Tampa Bay. Tampa Bay scored three first quarter touchdowns against the Chicago Bears, although failed to convert the PAT following the third touchdown. Tampa extended the lead to 26-14 in the third quarter, but ultimately fell 27-26. The next week, the Tampa defense held the Packers off the scoreboard in the first half. The Bucs extended the lead to 23-3 in the 4th quarter, before Green Bay scored two more touchdowns. Tampa held on for the victory. Then, against the Cardinals, the Buccaneers took a 28-3 lead into the fourth quarter. But the Cardinals scored four fourth quarter touchdowns to win the game, 31-28. Remember, folks: for every great comeback, there's an equal and opposite stomach punch.

26 Comments | Posted in Trivia

Elo has been rebooted

Posted by Mike Kania on September 22, 2011

As has many of you may have noticed over the past couple of weeks, the Elo Rater has been slightly off. This is due to both the inadvertent erasure of a DB table on my part (oops) and what appears to be some suspicious voting activity by a certain group of fans (you know who you are). In an effort to wipe the slate clean I have reset the database on purpose this time and repopulated it by running a million matchup simulations weighted towards picking the player with the higher career AV. This should give us a little better starting point instead of having everyone start as equals. To prevent ballot-stuffing, I have implemented a 200 vote per day limit -- I apologize if this keeps you from killing the entirety of your workday by making the agonizing choice between Hugh Green and Larry Hand, but I believe it's necessary.

14 Comments | Posted in General

Checkdowns: Seattle reaches a whole new level of ineptitude

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 22, 2011

Hat tip to my buddy Joe Bryant for this tidbit in his weekly Random Shot column (you can get this in your inbox by signing up here):

Here's what it's like to be a Seahawks fan these days. Seattle's possessions at Pittsburgh: punt, punt, punt, end of the half, punt, punt, punt, punt, surrendered on downs, punt.

We all know the Seahawks were shut out on Sunday, but that drive chart looked a little odd. Isn't it unusual to get shut out without committing a single turnover? That's a whole new level of ineptitude, I assumed. I was right: only 12 teams since the merger have gone double goose-egg in the points and turnovers column in the same game.


Rk Tm Year Date Opp W G Day Result PF PA PD Yrd TO
1 SEA 2011 2011-09-18 PIT 2 2 Sun L 0-24 0 24 -24 164
2 KAN 2010 2010-12-12 SDG 14 13 Sun L 0-31 0 31 -31 67
3 TEN 2008 2008-12-28 IND 17 16 Sun L 0-23 0 23 -23 125
4 BUF 2007 2007-12-16 CLE 15 14 Sun L 0-8 0 8 -8 232
5 OAK 2006 2006-11-06 SEA 9 8 Mon L 0-16 0 16 -16 185
6 PIT 2003 2003-12-14 NYJ 15 14 Sun L 0-6 0 6 -6 231
7 NWE 1992 1992-12-06 IND 14 13 Sun L 0-6 0 6 -6 94
8 CIN 1979 1979-09-02 DEN 1 1 Sun L 0-10 0 10 -10 232
9 SDG 1977 1977-11-06 DET 8 8 Sun L 0-20 0 20 -20 229
10 NYG 1976 1976-10-31 PHI 8 8 Sun L 0-10 0 10 -10 291
11 ATL 1974 1974-11-10 RAM 9 9 Sun L 0-21 0 21 -21 164
12 NYJ 1971 1971-09-19 BAL 1 1 Sun L 0-22 0 22 -22 118

And even that is probably misleading. The '08 Titans game was the last game of the season, when the 13-2 Titans benched most of their starters (of course, so did the Colts). The Cleveland-Buffalo game from '07 took place during a snowstorm, as was the Steelers-Jets game in '03. That makes it just the fourth game in the last 30 years where a team didn't commit a turnover and still was shutout, and couldn't even come up with a good excuse.

10 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-2

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 21, 2011

This week's post reads like a quick hits column. A few notes:

  • Cam Newton and Tom Brady put up ridiculous numbers in week one and then did it again in week two.
  • The Lions had the biggest win in franchise history since.... well, the last big win in franchise history.
  • Teams are adding insult to injury when facing the Chiefs
  • Profiles in futility: the Andrew Luck sweepstakes began in earnest in week two. One team has been outscored by 79 points; another has lost double-digit halftime leads twice this season; a third has lost 16 of its last 19 road games, with every single loss coming by double digits. A fourth team has now lost 11 of 12 home games, while a fifth team gave the Cleveland Browns their second double-digit victory in their last 62 road games.

4 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

Four 1,000 yard rushers on the roster?

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 19, 2011

File this in the "everything is bigger in Texas, including the optimism" department. From a reader:

With what looks like a "in and out" type of year for Arian Foster, Ben Tate looks poised to be the 4th 1000 yard rusher on the Texans roster (joining Foster, Derrick Ward and Steve Slaton). How many teams have had 4 1000 yard rushers on their team?

213 players in NFL history have rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. Where would the 2011 Texans rank if Tate breaks the millenium mark?

Houston would become the tenth team (and eighth unique team) to boast four such runners; no team has ever had five:

18 Comments | Posted in Checkdowns

User Survey –

Posted by Sean on September 19, 2011

User Survey -

In an effort to better serve our users, we've posted a feedback form on our overall company site,

In addition to your feedback, we are looking for a couple dozen volunteers to sign on for occasional, additional surveys and perhaps some early beta testing of new features. We are calling these volunteer groups Sports Reference User Boards. You can still give us feedback without having an interest in being on a user board.

Thank you, as always, for your support and feedback.

6 Comments | Posted in Announcements

P-F-R News: Site up-to-date for 2011

Posted by Neil Paine on September 16, 2011

Just got a message from Mike that I thought I'd pass along... The site is now fully updated for 2011, including player & team stats, boxscores, the Play Index, etc. -- everything that was updating on a regular basis last season is now up to date. In future weeks, we'll be updating the site each morning with stats from the previous day's games.

And as always, we welcome emails about site issues we may have missed, possible new features, or just to shoot the breeze.

11 Comments | Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News, Site Features

From the gut: thoughts on week 2’s games

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 14, 2011

When it comes to grading teams or analyzing games, I like to do so by looking at past performance and key statistical indicators. Objectivity is the name of the game. After one week, though, that's not really an option. So I figured I'd change course and, if you guys don't mind, shoot straight from the gut, giving my thoughts on each of the 16 games this weekend. (If you guys do mind, that's why this was placed in the 'totally useless' category.) I may not even do this next week, but that won't stop me from structuring this article in such a way to make it look like an every week column.

Games I like

Seattle @ Pittsburgh (-14.5): As everyone knows, the Seahawks are running into a buzzsaw this week. Cross-country road trip traveling west to east, 1:00 game, and against an angry and focused Steelers team. The last time Seattle went to Pittsburgh was four years ago, with that game also scheduled with a 1:00 kickoff. Coincidentally, 2007 was also the last time the Seahawks were respectable (SRS score of +1.8; they've had an SRS score of -7.5 or worse every year since then). That game was still an ugly 21-0 Pittsburgh victory, and I expect the same on Sunday. SRS said Pittsburgh was 19.6 points better than Seattle last year, which roughly translates to a 24 point-line, in my opinion, given the location and time of the game. Pittsburgh looked terrible against Baltimore, but I'm more than willing to give the Steelers the benefit of the doubt. Pittsburgh won't have 7 turnovers again this week, and while Vegas is trying to elicit action on the Seahawks thanks to that extra half-point on the line, I'm not falling for it. Pittsburgh covers and wins easily.

Kansas City @ Detroit (-9): Nine points is a lot for Detroit to give: the Lions haven't been favored by as much as a touchdown since week 17 of the 2000 season. On the other hand, most of those games were started by someone other than Matthew Stafford. The Lions had a very difficult schedule in 2010, while the Chiefs had an easy one; as a result, Detroit's SRS grade was 2.6 points higher than Kansas City's in 2010. Tack on HFA, and a line of 9 isn't unreasonable given what we saw in week one. Jamaal Charles indoors could be scary, but I don't like anything that's going on in Kansas City. The Lions should win this one easily -- although I can't say I'm not frightened at the prospect of taking the Lions.

10 Comments | Posted in Totally Useless

New York Times’ Fifth Down Blog, post week-1

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 14, 2011

Once again, will be teaming up with the New York Times and the New York Times' Fifth Down Blog. Every Tuesday on the Fifth Down blog and every Wednesday in print, we'll be running a weekly article discussing trends and statistical in the NFL.

Today's article looks at how we should predict the rest of the season for the Bills and Chiefs. I wrote a similar article this time last year here on the blog, when I wondered if the Seattle Seahawks were in for a huge year after throttling the 49ers. My conclusion?

As good as Seattle looked on Sunday, the evidence isn't very compelling that they're going to look more like they did in week 1 than they did for most of 2009. It's tempting to think that this is the sign of a new era in Seattle, but it's more likely a sign of the same old era in San Francisco.

But I'm slightly more optimistic about the Bills, in part because they really weren't that bad last season. As I wrote for the Fifth Down:

Buffalo had the hardest schedule in the A.F.C. last season, while the Chiefs had the conference’s most forgiving slate of opponents. According to Pro-Football-Reference, the difference between the Bills’ and the Chiefs’ schedules was worth, on average, 7.5 points per week. Consider this: both franchises went winless in 2010 against teams with 10 or more wins (Buffalo, 0-9; K.C. 0-2, including playoffs). Each team won 75 percent of its games against teams with six or fewer wins (Buffalo 3-1; K.C. 6-2). Against teams with seven to nine wins, the Bills went 1-1 with Fitzpatrick at quarterback (1-2 over all), while the Chiefs went 4-3.

You can read the full article here.

1 Comment | Posted in Checkdowns

PFR for Mobile:

Posted by Sean on September 9, 2011

Our Mobile Site:

Sports Reference is all about providing information where and when you need it as quickly and as easily as possible. We are pleased to now offer a mobile version of optimized for the most common mobile devices.

3 Comments | Posted in Announcements, P-F-R News

The Peyton Manningless Colts of Indianapolis

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 9, 2011

No one knows how the Colts will look without Peyton Manning. And we're about to find out much sooner than anyone in Indianapolis ever expected. Yesterday, Manning went under his third neck surgery in 19 months, and is expected to miss most, if not all, of the season. If Manning is indeed out for the year, what should we expect?

  • A few years ago, Doug noted that the average starting quarterback is worth 2.3 points, or about a win per season. A useful starting point, but no one has ever confused Manning with an 'average starting quarterback.'
  • Brian Burke says that the entire Colts passing offense -- of which Manning is the central figure -- is worth about 3.8 wins per season.

I'm less optimistic than most. I'm not going out on a limb if I tell you that the Colts are going to implode, but I think that's what's going to happen. If Manning is gone for 16 games, I would probably take the "under" even at 6 wins.

34 Comments | Posted in General, Quarterbacks

PFR’s 2011 New York Jets season preview

Posted by Chase Stuart on September 8, 2011

What should we expect from the Jets this year? New York has appeared in the AFC Championship Game in each of the past two seasons, but two bad halves (second against Indianapolis, first against Pittsburgh) prevented the Jets from making the Super Bowl. Every year with Rex Ryan is a "Super Bowl or bust" type of season: do the Jets have what it takes to meet those expectations in 2011?

Vegas views the Jets as one of the league's contenders: with a projection of 10 wins, the Jets land in the top quarter of the league. The odds say New England is the favorite, with the Steelers slightly behind the Patriots, and the Jets, Chargers and Ravens just behind Pittsburgh to win the AFC. Those five teams are the class of the conference, now that there's a Peyton Manningless-Indianapolis.

Most observers put the Jets in that 3-5 range among the AFC's heavyweights. But a full preview of the 2011 Jets should start by taking a look at both the 2009 and 2010 editions.

2009 vs. 2010 Jets

The 2009 Jets shocked a lot of people by getting to the AFC Championship Game; after all, the Jets started the season 7-7. New York flipped the script in 2010, starting the year 9-2, the second best start in franchise history. But the records belie their reality: the 2009 Jets were a bit better than their 9-7 record while the 2010 Jets may not have been as good as their 11-5 mark.

1 Comment | Posted in General

Checkdowns: Tecmo Super Bowl 2012

Posted by Neil Paine on September 6, 2011

Continuing a tradition of mine that stretches back to 2006, it's time to link this year's updated version of Tecmo Super Bowl at

For the uninitiated, this is a ROM of the original NES Tecmo Super Bowl, featuring the game's original graphics/sounds but with 32 teams and updated 2011 rosters. And, as always, you'll need an NES emulator to run the game. Have fun!

1 Comment | Posted in Checkdowns, Tecmo Super Bowl