The annotated WPA Graph for Week 16 is shown above. The graph is taken from NFL Advanced Stats, while the annotations are ours. If you are new to WPA graphs please see our WPA Reader’s Guide. The game was effectively sealed at half time when the Browns showcased unprecedented levels of ineffectiveness. With just over a minute to go, Greg Little broke several tackles to get the Browns into a 2nd-and-1 situation at the 8-yard line instead of a 2nd-and-14. The Browns burned their final timeout presumably because it would’ve taken awhile to gather everyone together up to the line of scrimmage. After the Browns got a fresh set of downs by running the ball, they had two options: clock the ball to discuss the next play, or run the next play. The chose to run the play, a pass to Evan Moore in the flat near the sidelines at about the 3-yard line. As soon as Moore turned around, he was driven back about a yard, thus when we went out of bounds, the clock can kept running. With 11 seconds to play, the Browns inexplicably chose to run the ball. Peyton Hillis was stopped for no gain and the half ended. It was an absurdly aggressive decision (apparently made soley by Seneca Wallace) not to choose to clock the ball and the Browns paid for in terms of the scoreboard and in terms of WPA. Their inability to get any points in that situation vaulted the Ravens to a 93% chance on winning the game.
However, the Browns were not done making awful mistakes. Due to a solid come back against a putrid Baltimore offense in the 4th quarter, the Browns had the opportunity to attempt a game-winning drive with two minutes remaining, all they had to do was stay out of the neutral zone before the snap. They could not. An overly eager Phil Taylor jumped into the neutral zone giving the Ravens a fresh set of downs and sealing an ugly win.
More observations from the game after the jump.
- Despite the inability of the offense to score points in the 4th quarter, Flacco actually was a pretty good passer in “clutch” situations. He was 7-of-13 for 115 yards on third down passing which resulted in with six first downs and two touchdowns.
- The Ravens really seemed to miss Anquan Boldin. Joe Flacco completed two passes to one wide receiver in the entire game. Both passes went to Torrey Smith who also drew a crucial pass interference penalty. While Lee Evans was targeted 4 times Flacco did not complete a single pass to him.
- The Ravens suffered several significant injuries during the game. Right guard Marshal Yanda had to leave the game with bruised ribs, stating that, “I was having real trouble breathing”, return specialist David Reed suffered a serious knee injury and Danell Ellerbe and Cary Williams both suffered concussions. The injury to Yanda (recently named to the Pro Bowl) is the most significant. In his absence Andre Gurode (5 pro bowls himself) will step in at right guard. Gurode is an excellent run blocker but can be a serious liability in pass protection.
- The Ravens are in the driver’s seat for the AFC North division title, a #2 playoff seed and a first round bye. According to the models at Football Outsiders’ the Ravens have a 66% chance to lock up all three next week against the Bengals. Otherwise, in all likelihood, they will be headed to Denver to play against the Broncos as Bill Simmon’s so inevitably predicted. Lets all hope that doesn’t happen. I’m unsure if the world is ready to handle both Bill Simmon’s ego and @lindseyyok’s Tebow contempt.
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