Will Giants use ‘big plays’ from scrimmage to upset Patriots in today’s Super Bowl?

David Tyree at the Giants Rally after victory ...

David Tyree... Image via Wikipedia

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a biweekly blog published every Wednesday and Sunday with a bonus “SIX STATS…” posting every Friday.

Here’s some food for thought as you prepare for today’s Super Bowl…

When the New York Giants upset the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 42, the Giants accomplished something that only two teams had previously done in Super Bowl history: They did not allow the Patriots to have a play of 20 or more yards from scrimmage. The only other teams to accomplish that feat were the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl 7 and the Dallas Cowboys in Super Bowl 30.

In the Giants Super Bowl 42 win, their offense had three “big plays” from scrimmage (plays of 20 yards or more) in the game. In the second quarter, Eli Manning completed a third-and-seven pass to Amani Toomer for 38 yards. In the fourth quarter there were a pair of “big plays” from scrimmage. On first and 10, Manning hit on a 45-yard pass to Kevin Boss; and later, the play of the game, when Manning connected with David Tyree on a third and five with a 32-yard completion. The big question is, can the Giants again hold the Pats to no “big plays” and hit on a few of their own?

With “big plays” from scrimmage as the focus (again, we’ll define a “big play” as a play from scrimmage for 20 or more yards), here’s a look at how “big plays” have played an important role in the previous 45 Super Bowls. For the record, there have been 318 “big plays” from scrimmage in the previous 45 Super Bowls (an average of just over seven “big plays” per game).

* Of the 318 big plays in the Super Bowl, 177 (55.7%) were by the team that won the game. In 25 of the 45 games, the eventual Super Bowl winner had more big plays than their opponent; in eight of the games, the teams had the same number of big plays. Teams that allowed no big plays or only one in the Super Bowl have won nine and lost only once. Teams that allowed two or fewer plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage are 17-9 in the Super Bowl.

* Of the 318 big plays, 94 (29.6%) happened in the fourth quarter. Fifty-one of the those 94 were by the team that lost the game (making big plays to get back in the game?)

* In 31 of the 45 Super Bowls, the team that won also had the longest play from scrimmage in the game. In the last 10 Super Bowls, however, the team that won only had the longest play from scrimmage in four games.

* Of the 318 big plays, 81 of them happened on either third or fourth down. Of those 81, the team that won the game had a big play on third or fourth down 51 times. In the 34 of the 45 Super Bowls, the winning team had at least one play of 20 yards or more from scrimmage on third down. Losing teams only had a play of 20 yards or more from scrimmage on third or fourth down in 20 of the 45 games.

* Of the 318 big plays, 63 went for touchdowns. Of those 63, 41 of them were scored by the team that won the game.

* Super Bowl 22 (Washington vs. Denver) had the most plays of 20 yards or more from scrimmage with 17. The Redskins had 10 big plays in that contest, most ever in a Super Bowl.

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