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The TD Project

Posted by Doug on January 23, 2008

The approximate value experiment (read about it here and here) is on hold for now because I'm busy with, well, lots of things. One of them will eventually be of interest to readers of this blog and users of this site.

Since the sports-reference merger, one grand idea of Sean Forman's has been to try to catalog every scoring play in NFL history and create from them a database that users (i.e. you) can search through. So I've been doing a little bit of work on that from time to time.

There's still much to be done, but I'm now to the point where I can spout some interesting facts. For example, 49% of Richard Todd's TD passes either tied the game, broke a tie, or gave his team the lead, while only 32% of Ken Anderson's did the same. Let's call such a touchdown a "crucial TD." Anderson and Todd might have played on very different kinds of teams, so it's unclear what that means, but check this out:

                 crucial TDs    total TDs      pct
Mark Duper           36            59          61%
Mark Clayton         34            85          40%

This data will also allow me to run studies like: when a team overcomes a 14-or-more-point lead to tie the game, do they go on to win it more than 50% of the time? And, just in time, it will allow me to re-run this post with proper data.