Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson: NFL’s ‘big play’ combo

Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published with a focus on stats that go beyond the numbers.

English: Green Bay Packer Wide Receiver Jordy ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The big play in Green Bay‘s 19-17 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday was a 64-yard TD pass from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson late in the third quarter that put the Packers ahead 16-3. The Rodgers-to-Nelson combination has become one of the best (if not the best) big play combos in the NFL… and we have numerical proof.

For the sake of this article, let’s define a “big play” as a run or pass from scrimmage that goes for 30 or more yards. Looking at this season, there have been 282 “big plays” through the first six weeks of the season. Over 84% of those big plays (238) have been passes; 44 have been runs of 30-plus yards.

The Philadelphia Eagles lead the NFL this season with the most big plays with 20. The Packers are a close second with 19 (more on team big plays in a moment). But let’s get back to Rodgers and Nelson.

If we look at which players have been involved in the most big plays this year, Rodgers and Nelson top the list. Rodgers leads all QBs with 15 big play passes. Nelson tops receivers with seven big play receptions.

Here’s a look at the top four players in three different offensive categories for big plays (plays of 30-plus yards).

Quarterbacks
1. Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay, 15
2. Joe Flacco, Baltimore, 12
3. Jay Cutler, Chicago, 12
4. Peyton Manning, Denver, 11

Receivers
1. Jordy Nelson, Green Bay, 7
2. DeSean Jackson, Philadelphia, 5
3. Alshon Jeffery, Chicago, 5
4. Josh Gordon, Cleveland, 5

Runners
1. Adrian Peterson, Minnesota, 4
2. Alfred Morris, Washington, 4
3. Michael Vick, Philadelphia, 3
4. LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia, 3

With Vick, Jackson and McCoy as big play threats, it’s no surprise that the Eagles are leading the league so far in most big plays with 20. Following are the number of big plays from each team this season.

20: Philadelphia
19: Green Bay
15: Chicago
12: Cleveland, Denver, Baltimore
10: Minnesota, New Orleans, New York Jets, Pittsburgh, San Francisco
9: Buffalo, Miami, New England
8: Cincinnati, Dallas, Detroit, Tennessee, San Diego, Seattle
7: Atlanta, Indianapolis, New York Giants, Oakland
6: Houston, Washington
5: Jacksonville, St. Louis, Tampa Bay
4: Arizona, Carolina, Kansas City

Note: In last week’s games we had 46 “big plays” of 30-plus yards. The Packers had the most with five, followed by the Ravens, Eagles and Browns with four.

Follow Jerry on Twitter @StatsonTapp

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