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Pro Football Reference Blog

Approximate Time of Knockout

Posted by Chase Stuart on May 14, 2010

In December 2008, Doug talked about a metric called "Time of KO," measuring the time of knockout in any football game. Dr. Saturday, our favorite college football blogger, has been keeping track of this metric for a few years now. Like the simple rating system, it's just another way to measure and rank dominance; it's not designed to be the mother of all rating systems, but it is designed to provide another look at how each particular game unfolded. What it lacks in precision it makes up for in simplicity -- when did a knockout occur?

The short theory is that we look at how much time was remaining in every game when the winning team first scored more points than the losing team ultimately scored by the end of the game. In this past Super Bowl, that would be the first score of the 4th quarter, when the Saints went up 24-17 (ultimately winning 31-17). In the Eagles season opener against the Panthers, Philadelphia won 38-10. DeSean Jackson's punt return touchdown in the 2nd quarter made it 17-7, which would have been the knockout score in that game.

Unfortunately, we don't have data on how much time remained in the game during each score in NFL history; what we do have is the number of scores in each game and quarter. So we have to do a bit of a fugde -- hence the name, Approximate Time of Knockout. If there were four scores in the 2nd quarter of a game, we'll stipulate that the scores came with 12, 9, 6 and 3 minutes remaining in the quarter. In the Broncos 27-6 week 2 win over Cleveland, there were three scores in the first quarter; Cleveland kicked a field goal, then Denver scored a touchdown, and then Cleveland kicked another field goal. Therefore, the Broncos are given an approximate time of knockout of 52 minutes, 30 seconds -- there were three scores in the first quarter, and we assume that they came with 11:15, 7:30 and 3:45 remaining. In the Texans victory over the Bengals this season, Cincinnati scored 17 points; the Texans scored a touchdown to go ahead 21-17 on the first of two scores in the third quarter; therefore, we assume the time of knockout in that game was with 25 minutes remaining.

Make sense? Now we compute the time of knockout for every game in the NFL since 1950. Five games came at the 57-minute mark; that's when there four scores in the first quarter, and the winning team secured enough points to win the game on the first score of the game:

The approximate part of the AKO is obvious here: the more scores you get in a quarter, the quicker we assume you delivered the knockout blow. On the other hand, defensive teams have some advantages in the AKO system -- a quick early score in a 10-7 , back-and-forth, tight victory, would make the winning team's AKO look more dominant than it was. Still, warts and all in this system, I thought it would be interesting to look at the results. Here are the top teams, as measured by minutes remaining in each team's AKO per season game. AKO minutes is the gross number of minutes remaining in all games by the team after securing the knockout blow, while "Avg" is the per-team game metric:

BAL 1968 14 13 522.0 37.3
CLE 1951 12 11 380.5 31.7
CLE 1954 12 9 380.0 31.7
SDG 1961 14 12 443.1 31.7
MIA 1973 14 12 442.3 31.6
STL 1999 16 13 497.0 31.1
MIN 1969 14 12 428.8 30.6
RAM 1973 14 12 426.3 30.4
MIN 1975 14 12 421.3 30.1
MIN 1970 14 12 414.0 29.6
CHI 1985 16 15 472.6 29.5
MIA 1972 14 14 411.3 29.4
NWE 2007 16 16 467.0 29.2
CLE 1953 12 11 348.0 29.0
MIN 1973 14 12 398.3 28.4
IND 2005 16 14 450.8 28.2
SFO 1984 16 15 446.5 27.9
KAN 1968 14 12 389.0 27.8
CHI 1963 14 11 385.8 27.6
RAM 1977 14 10 385.0 27.5
KAN 1967 14 9 383.8 27.4
GNB 1962 14 13 382.3 27.3
OAK 1968 14 12 381.6 27.3
CHI 1988 16 12 435.0 27.2
BAL 1971 14 10 379.8 27.1
BUF 1990 16 13 432.8 27.0
DAL 1968 14 12 367.0 26.2
HOU 1961 14 10 366.3 26.2
PHI 2002 16 12 417.8 26.1
CLE 1950 12 10 312.5 26.0
SDG 1963 14 11 362.5 25.9
PIT 1976 14 10 361.3 25.8
PIT 1975 14 12 360.5 25.8
MIA 1977 14 10 360.0 25.7
GNB 1996 16 13 410.8 25.7
WAS 1991 16 14 409.8 25.6
DAL 1992 16 13 407.5 25.5
RAM 1975 14 12 356.3 25.4
PHI 2004 16 13 406.7 25.4
STL 2001 16 14 404.3 25.3
MIN 1998 16 15 404.3 25.3
WAS 1982 9 8 226.3 25.1
GNB 1961 14 11 350.8 25.1
BAL 2000 16 12 400.8 25.0

Which Super Bowls saw the AKO come out with the most time remaining?

1980 OAK PHI 50.0 27-10 Super Bowl XV
1973 MIA MIN 50.0 24-7 Super Bowl VIII
1989 SFO DEN 48.8 55-10 Super Bowl XXIV
1985 CHI NWE 48.0 46-10 Super Bowl XX
1983 RAI WAS 41.3 38-9 Super Bowl XVIII
1987 WAS DEN 40.0 42-10 Super Bowl XXII
1984 SFO MIA 40.0 38-16 Super Bowl XIX
1971 DAL MIA 40.0 24-3 Super Bowl VI
2000 BAL NYG 37.5 34-7 Super Bowl XXXV
1994 SFO SDG 37.5 49-26 Super Bowl XXIX
1992 DAL BUF 37.5 52-17 Super Bowl XXVII
1977 DAL DEN 37.5 27-10 Super Bowl XII
1972 MIA WAS 37.5 14-7 Super Bowl VII
1969 KAN MIN 37.5 23-7 Super Bowl IV
1966 GNB KAN 37.5 35-10 Super Bowl I
1996 GNB NWE 33.8 35-21 Super Bowl XXXI
1976 OAK MIN 33.8 32-14 Super Bowl XI
1967 GNB OAK 33.0 33-14 Super Bowl II
2006 IND CHI 26.3 29-17 Super Bowl XLI
2002 TAM OAK 26.3 48-21 Super Bowl XXXVII
2005 PIT SEA 25.0 21-10 Super Bowl XL
1968 NYJ BAL 25.0 16-7 Super Bowl III
1995 DAL PIT 22.5 27-17 Super Bowl XXX
1974 PIT MIN 22.5 16-6 Super Bowl IX
1993 DAL BUF 20.0 30-13 Super Bowl XXVIII
1986 NYG DEN 18.8 39-20 Super Bowl XXI
1991 WAS BUF 18.0 37-24 Super Bowl XXVI
1998 DEN ATL 12.5 34-19 Super Bowl XXXIII
2009 NOR IND 10.0 31-17 Super Bowl XLIV
1982 WAS MIA 10.0 27-17 Super Bowl XVII
1979 PIT RAM 10.0 31-19 Super Bowl XIV
1981 SFO CIN 9.0 26-21 Super Bowl XVI
1978 PIT DAL 9.0 35-31 Super Bowl XIII
2004 NWE PHI 7.5 24-21 Super Bowl XXXIX
1997 DEN GNB 5.0 31-24 Super Bowl XXXII
1990 NYG BUF 5.0 20-19 Super Bowl XXV
1975 PIT DAL 5.0 21-17 Super Bowl X
1970 BAL DAL 5.0 16-13 Super Bowl V
2007 NYG NWE 3.8 17-14 Super Bowl XLII
2001 NWE STL 3.8 20-17 Super Bowl XXXVI
1999 STL TEN 3.8 23-16 Super Bowl XXXIV
1988 SFO CIN 3.8 20-16 Super Bowl XXIII
2008 PIT ARI 3.0 27-23 Super Bowl XLIII
2003 NWE CAR 2.1 32-29 Super Bowl XXXVIII

Next week, we'll look at the 2010 results.

This entry was posted on Friday, May 14th, 2010 at 6:42 am and is filed under Statgeekery, Totally Useless. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.