2013 NFL Wild Card Round: Inside The Colts Numbers

Andy Lyons

A tale of two halves Saturday gave the Colts the second greatest comeback in NFL history, a 45-44 win over the Chiefs in Indianapolis.

Superstitions can be fun to play along with, especially when they seemingly continue to work over and over again.

I've brought up several times that the Colts have played very well each and every time I have had something else going on during their games, and Saturday was another one of those times. I got to see Notre Dame's first ACC basketball game against the school everyone loves to hate, Duke, and I was following the Colts via Twitter. With about 12 minutes to go in the basketball game, the Irish were down 10, and I checked my phone again to see what was going on in the Colts game. Trent Richardson: 1 Playoff carry, 1 fumble. Chiefs 24-7. At this point I decided to focus on the task at hand in South Bend, and the Colts would have to wait, like the many other times this season.

So what happened? The Irish go on a 20-4 run and iced the game late with some big baskets, winning 79-77. As we were walking to our car I had resigned myself that the Colts game was probably out of reach, but was optimistic since I hadn't checked the phone in about 45 minutes. We get to the car just as the second half is kicking off, and I initially found the national radio broadcast on Sirius, not fiddling with finding Bob Lamey right away. We weren't even off campus yet when the Chiefs went up 38-10, so I thought it'd be a good idea to flip over at that point.

The rest, as you know, is history. We were somewhere between Argos and Rochester on the way home when Alex Smith threw out of bounds to Dwayne Bowe, ending the game at 45-44, and completing a 28 point comeback, second largest in NFL history. It's a game that will go down in Colts history as one of the most memorable and exciting games, right up there with the 2006/07 AFC Championship game. As with that game, you can pretty much throw away the first half and just watch the second half.

Elias tries to sum up the uniqueness of the game Saturday in three parts:

  • The Colts' 45-44 victory - after the Chiefs had led, 38-10, early in the third quarter - marked the second-largest deficit that any NFL team has ever overcome to win a postseason game. The record was set 21 years and one day earlier, when the Bills overcame a 35-3 deficit to defeat the Houston Oilers, 41-38, in overtime. The NFL's largest regular-season deficit overcome by the winning team, by the way, is 28 points, achieved by the 49ers in a 38-35 overtime win over the Saints on Dec. 7, 1980 (New Orleans had led, 35-7). So the victory by Indianapolis on Saturday marked the first time in NFL history that a team had won a game in regulation time, in either the regular season or the postseason, after having trailed by as many as 28 points.
  • It was the highest-scoring postseason game in NFL history ever to be decided by the minimum margin. The previous record had been set in a first-round game on Jan. 5, 2003, when the 49ers nipped the Giants, 39-38. (The only reason you know the name Trey Junkin.)
  • The two-team combined total of 1049 yards established an NFL record for a postseason game, eclipsing the total of 1038 that was, rather remarkably as these things go, achieved in two different games: a Bills-Dolphins first-round game on Dec. 30, 1995, and a Saints-Lions first-round matchup on Jan. 7, 2012.

My analysis will be based strictly on the numbers, as the only thing I've seen are the numbers, so a lot of the little things I have no idea about. But there's enough from the numbers to figure out what went right and what went wrong. Let's jump in:

Non-Adjusted Stats for the Wild Card Round:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 82.5% 1 81.4% 7 N N 0-0
ANPY/A 8.283 3 9.229 8 N N 1-0
Turnovers 4 7 1 4 N Y 1-2
Yds/Drive 44.67 1 39.46 6 N N 1-1
ToP/Drive 1:52.3 8 2:53.3 5 N N 2-1
Yds/Play 8.246 1 6.413 7 N N 2-0
Orange Zone Eff 90.5% 1 75.5% 7 N N 1-1
First Downs/Drive 2.33 3 2.31 5 N N 0-1
3rd/4th Down 55.6% 1 52.9% 5 N N 2-0
Avg Start Pos 25.8 8 36.5 8 N Y 2-1
3 and Outs 4 5 2 5 N Y 2-2
RZ Eff 90.5% 1 88.6% 7 N N 1-2
Plays/Drive 5.417 7 6.154 4 N Y 0-2
Penalty Yds / Play 0.292 3 0.188 7 N N 0-1
RB Success 50.0% 6 60.7% 7 N N 0-0
Yds/Carry 5.26 2 4.69 4 N N 2-0
Ranking - Week (8) 3 8 8
Ranking - Season (520) 138 490 376

Adjusted Stats for the Wild Card Round:

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 86.8% 1 81.6% 8 N N 0-0
ANPY/A 8.358 3 9.499 8 N N 1-0
Turnovers 3.2 7 1.4 5 N Y 1-2
Yds/Drive 45.42 1 41.10 6 N N 1-1
ToP/Drive 2:08.2 8 2:50.9 5 N N 2-1
Yds/Play 7.990 1 6.543 7 N N 2-0
Orange Zone Eff 96.9% 1 77.5% 7 N N 1-1
First Downs/Drive 2.55 1 2.36 7 N N 0-1
3rd/4th Down 59.0% 1 57.9% 8 N N 2-0
Avg Start Pos 30.0 8 31.8 6 N Y 2-1
3 and Outs 3.4 7 2.5 5 N Y 2-2
RZ Eff 101.7% 1 91.5% 8 N N 1-2
Plays/Drive 5.839 6 6.277 5 N Y 0-2
Penalty Yds / Play 0.353 3 0.227 7 N N 0-1
RB Success 54.9% 3 60.5% 7 N N 0-0
Yds/Carry 5.08 3 3.95 3 N N 2-0
Ranking - Week (8) 1 8 8
Ranking - Season (520) 70 478 285

Some thoughts:

  • The Offense had the best weekend of any of the eight teams that played, and that includes how they played in the first half. Six of the top 9 categories the Colts had the best performance of the weekend, which clearly helped them out.
  • I was very wrong when I said it would be impossible for the team who loses the Turnover battle to win the game, as that's exactly what happened. The Colts now have 18 turnovers on the season, with half of those coming in the Rams game and this one. The Colts made mistakes, but the everyone more than made up for them.
  • I said the one major weakness of the Chiefs Defense was in Yards per Play, that they were prone to big plays, and we saw that time and again Saturday. 22 plays of 10 or more yards, which is more than a third of the 65 total plays run. The Colts completely took advantage of that weakness.
  • Unlike the first game, the Chiefs dominated field position, best of the weekend on both sides of the ball. It was helped considerably by the Turnovers and by scoring on nearly every possession for a while, which meant kickoffs and the Colts starting at their own 20. Glad it ultimately ended up not mattering, as it usually means more in the Playoffs than it does in the Regular Season.
  • Colts were tops in scoring points when they got close to the end zone at over 90%, which in the Red Zone meant an adjusted percentage of over 100%. Play-calling and execution were both fantastic.
  • The Defense laid a giant egg, which is usually what happens when you see a team score 44 points. The overall game stats are really poor.
  • However, there were plays here and there that made a significant difference, and Josh hit on all three of them yesterday. Antoine Bethea running down Dwayne Bowe, and then stuffing the Chiefs on three straight plays, plus the Robert Mathis strip-sack on a play he was double teamed and could have given up, but never did. Those get lost in tables like the one above, but often times make up for all the poor numbers we may see at a 30,000 foot view.
  • The Colts Defense did enough in the second half to allow Andrew Luck, T.Y. Hilton, and the Offense to do their thing. They only gave up 6 points in the final 28 minutes after allowing 38 in the first 32. They could have packed it in at any point too, and didn't. They deserve some praise for continually getting off the canvas and landing the knockout blow at the end, the intentional grounding on Alex Smith that dropped the Chiefs win percentage down 25%. On one play.

Season Stats through the Wild Card Round (Adjusted):

Statistic Offense Rank Best Defense Rank Best Record Win %
DSR 72.3% 8 Broncos 70.7% 20 Bengals 87-12 0.879
ANPY/A 5.902 14 Broncos 6.107 20 Seahawks 110-20 0.846
Turnovers 1.05 2 49ers 1.84 12 Seahawks 110-20 0.846
Yds/Drive 32.18 8 Chargers 32.35 24 Cardinals 71-22 0.763
ToP/Drive 2:48.0 11 Chargers 2:50.0 25 Cardinals 99-36 0.733
Yds/Play 5.446 11 Broncos 5.567 27 Seahawks 76-29 0.724
Orange Zone Eff 57.2% 10 Broncos 51.4% 13 Bengals 94-21 0.817
First Downs/Drive 1.84 9 Chargers 1.83 24 Bengals 67-21 0.761
3rd/4th Down 39.9% 11 Chargers 40.5% 22 Bengals 88-30 0.746
Avg Start Pos 30.6 11 Chiefs 27.6 7 Chargers 117-27 0.813
3 and Outs 3.22 5 Chargers 3.38 24 Cardinals 70-32 0.686
RZ Eff 69.3% 11 Broncos 58.7% 8 Panthers 84-46 0.646
Plays/Drive 5.921 7 Chargers 5.798 21 Texans 75-46 0.620
Penalty Yds / Play 0.612 3 Patriots 0.872 9 Ravens 61-56 0.521
RB Success 43.7% 18 Chargers 49.1% 27 Giants 55-77 0.417
Yds/Carry 4.47 9 Eagles 4.46 27 Giants 58-67 0.464
Overall 7 Chargers 22 Seahawks

Week-to-Week Comparisons:

Colts Opponent Non-Adjusted Adjusted
Week Offense Defense Total Offense Defense Total
1 Raiders 26 441 179 42 493 275
2 Dolphins 130 402 277 117 470 319
3 49ers 74 101 30 32 79 10
4 Jaguars 54 12 3 97 17 7
5 Seahawks 102 318 161 29 275 55
6 Chargers 371 468 485 447 306 462
7 Broncos 369 124 227 378 22 94
8 BYE
9 Texans 313 382 403 265 467 437
10 Rams 436 250 416 472 273 465
11 Titans 37 475 250 35 485 239
12 Cardinals 449 487 510 306 495 497
13 Titans 439 200 385 427 180 361
14 Bengals 172 501 431 79 511 376
15 Texans 340 14 49 334 24 73
16 Chiefs 185 35 31 137 60 30
17 Jaguars 62 151 40 159 280 182
18 Chiefs 138 490 376 70 478 285

I hope we don't have to see this Colts Defense again, even though we've seen them way more than we probably should (7 out of 17 games). I think it's pretty obvious a performance like that next Saturday night against the Patriots won't have the same outcome as it did this weekend. But the Offense? It can play like it did in the second half again and again and again.

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