I’ll be the first to admit that I went to bed after watching the Denver Broncos take a 24-0 into the locker room at halftime in their November 24, 2013 game against the New England Patriots. Imagine my surprise (and that of others who also turned off the game after the first two quarters) when I opened the newspaper the next day to read about New England‘s overtime win over Denver.
The Patriots not only found themselves in a heap of trouble after the first half, but what also didn’t help was that it was a home game. When they won the game, it was only the seventh time in NFL history that a home team won a game after being behind by 20 points or more at half. It was also the second greatest deficit overcome at halftime by a home team in league history. In addition, this was not the first time that a New England team had overcome a 20-point deficit at home at half and gone on to win the game (more on that in a moment).
The Patriots-Denver contest was the fourth this season where a home team was behind by 20 points or more at half. Prior to the Patriots comeback, the Jaguars, Colts and Falcons could not erase their large halftime deficits at home and eventually lost those games.
The last time a home team won a game after being behind by 20-plus points at half was on November 26, 2006 when the home team Tennessee Titans were behind 21-0 to the New York Giants after two quarters of play. The Titans scored 24 unanswered points in the second half to win that game.
Here’s a look at the seven home teams that were behind by 20 or more points at half and went on to win that contest.
Nov. 24, 2013: Denver @ New England (New England down by 24 points at half) Patriots won 34-31
Nov. 26, 2006: New York Giants @ Tennessee (Tennessee down by 21 points at half) Titans won 24-21
Sept. 19, 1999: Indianapolis @ New England (New England down by 21 points at half) Patriots won 31-28
Dec. 24, 1995: Minnesota @ Cincinnati (Cincinnati down by 21 points at half) Bengals won 27-24
Sept. 12, 1982: L.A. Rams @ Green Bay (Green Bay down by 23 at half) Packers won 35-23
Dec. 7, 1980: New Orleans @ San Francisco (San Francisco down by 28 at half) 49ers won 38-35
Nov. 30, 1958: San Francisco @ Baltimore (Baltimore down by 20 at half) Colts won 35-27
Prior to the game against the Broncos on November 24, the Patriots had not been behind by 20 points or more at home at halftime since 1999. The Steelers now have the longest gap between such games; they have not been behind by 20-plus points at halftime in a home game since 2000.
Following is the last year each NFL team played a game where they were behind at halftime by 20-plus points at home.
2004: San Francisco
2006: Green Bay, New Orleans
2007: Baltimore, Minnesota
2009: New York Giants, Oakland
2010: Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Seattle, Washington
2011: Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Tampa Bay
2012: Carolina, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, New York Jets, San Diego, St. Louis, Tennessee
2013: Atlanta, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, New England
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Of the 176 games played this season in the NFL (Through Week #12), exactly one-quarter (44) were decided by three points or less. This past weekend four games were decided by three or less, about average for a typical NFL weekend.
Two teams, the Baltimore Ravens and the Tampa Bay Bucs, have seen six of their 11 games this season decided by three points or less. Both teams have won two of those games and lost four. In addition to the Ravens and Bucs, the Houston Texans have also lost four games by three or fewer points this season.
Let’s look back a few seasons, 2010 to be exact. There were 215 games played since the start of the 2010 campaign that were decided by three points or less. The Miami Dolphins lost in 14 of those games, most in the league. Dallas is second on the list with 11 losses of three points or less since 2010.
Following is a look at which teams have lost the most games by three points or less since 2010.
10: Buffalo, Detroit
9: Baltimore, San Francisco
8: Arizona, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Houston, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Tampa Bay, Washington
7: Carolina, Green Bay
6: Kansas City, Oakland, Tennessee
5: Indianapolis, New England, Philadelphia, Seattle, St. Louis
4: Atlanta, Chicago, Denver, Minnesota, New Orleans, NY Giants, NY Jets
Five teams have lost more than 40% of their defeats by three points or less since 2010. Leading the way are the Ravens. Of the 20 games they have lost since 2010, nine have been by three points or less (45%). The others: San Francisco 42.9%; New England 41.7%; Miami 41.2%; Green Bay 41.2%. At the bottom of that list are the Jaguars; of their 42 losses since 2010, only three (7.1%) have been by three points or less.
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Milwaukee Bucks forward Caron Butler on November 22 against the Philadelphia 76ers scored 38 points, two short of his career mark. What makes the 33-year-old Butler’s game also noteworthy is that he became only the second Bucks player in team history to score 35 or more points in a game at age 33 or older. The other Bucks player to score 35-plus at age 33 or older was Sam Cassell, who on December 9, 2002 at age 33 scored 39 points in a game versus the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Butler was the second player to accomplish this feat in the NBA this season. Just two days prior to Butler’s 38-point game, 35-year-old Dirk Nowitzki matched his age with 35 points in a contest against the Rockets. It was Nowitzki’s fifth career game with 35-plus points since he turned 33 years of age.
A player 33 years of age or older scoring 35-plus points in a game has happened 548 times. As you might expect, the player with the most games is Michael Jordan. He had 82 such games in his career. Following are the 16 players who have accumulated 10 or more career games with 35 or more points at age 33 or older.
82: Michael Jordan
38: Karl Malone
30: Kobe Bryant
30: Dominique Wilkins
29: Alex English
26: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
24: Bernard King
23: Elgin Baylor
18: Hakeem Olajuwon
16: Larry Bird
16: Jerry West
13: Rick Barry
12: Wilt Chamberlain
12: Patrick Ewing
11: Sam Jones
10: Elvin Hayes
Karl Malone holds the record for most points scored by a player age 33 or older. He had 56 in a game on April 7, 1998. Jordan holds the mark for most points in a playoff game by a player 33 years old; he had 55 in an April 27, 1997 contest.
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With a 5-5 record, there’s a distinct symmetry that can be applied when trying to determine what’s been good and what’s been bad for the Green Bay Packers this season. As you watch the game tomorrow against the Vikings, here’s a statistical look back at some of the numbers that might help determine whether or not the Packers will win this contest.
This stats breakdown will look at some of the offensive numbers, specifically the offensive drives in each game. Green Bay has had 48 offensive drives in its five wins and 56 offensive drives in the five losses.
Scoring drives. In the five wins, the Packers offense scored on 29 of the 48 drives (60.4%). In the five losses, the Pack scored on only 19 of the 56 drives (33.9%). They scored touchdowns in 15 of the 48 drives in wins (31.3%) and only 10 TDs in the 54 drives in losses (18.5%).
Average drives. The average starting field position on the drives in wins was the 29.3 yard line; in losses it was the 27.2 yard line. The average number of plays in drives in wins was 6.6; in losses it was 5.6 plays. The average number of yards gained in drives in wins was 41.4; in losses it was 33.8. The average drives in wins lasted 3:09; in losses it lasted 2:21.
Long drives. The Packers offense had 10 10-play drives in their five wins this season. In their five losses, they had seven 10-play drives. In their five wins they had 11 drives that lasted 5:00 or longer; in their five losses they had only four drives that lasted 5:00 or longer.
Quick-score TDs. The Packers have been one of the best teams in the league the past couple of years in quick scores. In their wins this season they had nine quick scores (TDs on drives of five plays or less). In their losses, they had only four quick scores.
Three and out. In the five wins in 2013, the Packers offense has had only seven three-and-outs. In the five losses, they had 14 three-and-outs.
Starting field position. In their five wins, the Packers scored 16 times (TD or FG) in 29 drives when they started at their own 29 yard line or worse. In the five losses, they scored only 11 times in 39 drives that started at their own 29 yard line or worse. When the Packers had a starting field position of their own 40 yard line or better, they scored five TDs in 11 drives in their five wins. When they had a starting field position of their own 40 yard line or better in their five losses, they scored TDs on only two of 11 drives.
I’ll be the first to admit that the Packers defense needs to step it up in these last six weeks of the season if the team is going to make the playoffs. But as you watch the game tomorrow, keep an eye on the Pack’s offensive drives. In fact, you may want to ask yourself the following questions as the game progresses:
What kind of starting field position are they getting?
Are they scoring when they get the ball, or are they always punting or losing possession due to a turnover?
Are they having sustainable drives, or are there too many “three-and-outs”?
Are they keeping the ball for long drives and then scoring?
Are they getting some of those signature “quick-scores”?
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The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings on Sunday will play for the 107th time. The Packers lead the series 56-49-1.
Here’s a quick six-question trivia quiz for Packers fans to see how well you know the series against the neighbors to the west. Answers appear at the end of the column.
1. Four Green Bay quarterbacks have thrown 20 or more TD passes in games versus the Vikings. Brett Favre leads the group with 54, followed by Aaron Rodgers with 26 and Bart Starr with 25. Who is the fourth Packers QB who has tossed 20-plus TD passes against the Vikings? (one point)
2. Twenty times in the Packers-Vikings rivalry a Packers running back has gained 100 or more yards in a game. Can you name the Packers running back who has the most games (four) with 100 or more yards rushing? (one point)
3. During their careers with the Packers, three receivers accumulated 1,000 or more receiving yards against Minnesota. Name the three receivers. (three points)
5. In the history of this series, three Green Bay players have 10 or more sacks against the Vikings. Name these three players. (three points)
6. When was the last time the Vikings swept the two-game season series with the Packers? Name the season, and who was the Minnesota QB who accomplished this feat? (two points; one for the year, one for the QB)
1. Lynn Dickey is the fourth QB who had 20-plus TD passes against the Vikings. He had 21 in his career.
2. John Brockington had four games with 100 or more yards rushing for the Packers in games versus the Vikes, tops in that category.
3. The three Packers receivers who totaled 1,000 or more receiving yards in games against the Vikings were Donald Driver (1,296), Boyd Dowler (1,258) and James Lofton (1,184).
5. The three players with 10 or more sacks in Green Bay-Minnesota games were Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilla (11.5), Aaron Kampman (10.5) and Reggie White (10).
6. The last time the Vikings won both regular-season games against the Pack was in 2009. The quarterback was Brett Favre.
8-11: Expert… You know your Packers-Vikings history
5-7: Not bad, but there is room for improvement
2-4: You need to pay more attention when watching the game
0-1: You may be spending way too much time watching “The Kardashians”