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Super Bowl XLIV - Inside the Numbers

For the first time this season, we have to look at a legitimate Colts loss.  I really wasn't looking forward to doing this, but after I ran the numbers, it showed me something so glaring, I'm going to be pounding the same drum until the draft.  More on that later, but first a couple notes from the game:

  • From EliasPeyton Manning had thrown 1071 passes since the last time he threw an INT for a touchdown.  It sucks it had to come at that point in the game.
  • Another from Elias:  There were 3 lead changes in the game, and nine in the previous three Super Bowls.  That equals the number of lead changes in the previous 10 Super Bowls.  Three good games in a row, although I wish this one would have been one sided in the Colts favor.
  • From our fearless leader (via Joel Thorman): The Colts 96 yard drive, capped off by a Pierre Garçon TD, tied the longest drive in Super Bowl history.  Super Bowl XX also saw the Bears go 96 yards against the Patriots.
  • From Pro Football Weekly: Peyton Manning's total of 333 passing yards in Super Bowl XLIV increased his career postseason total to 5,164 yards, and he became the third player to reach 5,000 postseason passing yards. The others: Brett Favre (5,855) and Joe Montana (5,772).
  • Also from PFW: Dallas Clark increased his career postseason totals to 64 receptions and 847 receiving yards, breaking the previous records for tight ends: 62 receptions by Jay Novacek and Shannon Sharpe, and 834 receiving yards by Keith Jackson (Whoa Nelly).

Follow me after the jump, where you'll have all the ammunition you'll ever need when a moron claims Peyton Manning "choked" this game away...

Here are the stats from Super Bowl XLIV (Rankings are for all Playoff games since 2001):

Statistic Offense Rank Defense Rank Off/Def Above Off/Def Below Record
DSR 80.6% 19 78.6% 158 N N 36-5
ANPY/A 6.844 71 8.025 156 N N 44-4
Turnovers 1.00 37 0.00 163 N N 57-11
Yds/Drive 54.00 6 41.50 180 N N 29-5
ToP/Drive 3:43.6 15 3:46.4 185 N N 45-9
Yds/Play 6.750 22 5.724 136 N N 25-14
First Downs/Drive 2.88 7 2.50 176 N N 28-8
3rd/4th Down 46.7% 54 30.0% 45 Y N 38-13
Avg Start Pos 16.6 197 29.6 85 N N 50-9
3 and Outs 2.00 23 1.00 177 N N 29-14
RZ Eff 66.7% 109 66.7% 81 N N 38-14
Plays/Drive 8.000 6 7.250 185 N N 35-14
Penalty Yds / Play 0.703 107 0.328 164 N Y 30-20
RB Success 47.4% 80 47.1% 115 N N 26-21
Yds/Carry 5.21 27 2.83 37 Y N 23-23
Net Punts Yds/Game 43.00 33 44.00 173 N N 23-23
Ranking - 198 Games 19 177 96

Some thoughts:

  • This was one of the most evenly matched playoff games since 2001, and the most even Super Bowl played in that same time frame.  That being said, according to the Winning Stats, the Colts outplayed the Saints.  More specifically, the Colts offense outplayed the Saints offense.  It's actually the 2nd year in a row the worse team, according to the Winning Stats, won the Super Bowl.  It happens sometimes.
  • Three stats in the Top 10 over the past 9 playoff years:  Yds/Drive, First Downs / Drive, and Plays/Drive.  These include the 2 Three and Outs by the Colts as well.  The Saints absolutely had to make a play to stop the Colts from driving up and down the field on them, which they did.  Teams that win do those things.
  • The Defense was atrocious after the first 2 drives.  Two bright spots:  3rd/4th Down % and Yds/Carry.  Too bad they couldn't do much else.
  • This game, I believe, came down to one stat, and one stat only:  Average Starting Position.  For the 2nd year in a row, the Colts lost in the playoffs with an absolutely awful Starting Position.  In fact, they were the two worst playoff games since 2001, and Sunday was the 7th worst game, Regular Season or Playoffs, since 2001.  Just imagine if the Colts started 10 yards better, on average, on each drive.  Then imagine they going, on average, 54 yards / drive.  It's incredibly frustrating to think about.

As you can see, it is completely ridiculous to put the blame on Peyton Manning and the offense.  It was in the top 10% offensively over the past 9 playoff seasons, even with the awful Average Starting Position.  Please feel free to point any moron to this article to prove to them you can't really blame Manning for this loss.

I'd also like to speak with GM Bill Polian:  WE NEED A KICK AND PUNT RETURNER.  It would be nice to draft a return specialist in the draft, but he should do one better...Go get somebody we already know can return kicks.  I hear there's a guy in Cleveland who's pretty good, and wants to get paid his worth.  Make it happen, please.  This team is ready to win right now (obviously), and it isn't a good time to try and find a guy when there is a known commodity you can get.  It's awful to think the two past years the Colts lost because of Special Teams, but it can easily be argued that's the case.  When you have the greatest QB on the planet, the other areas should be, at a minimum, average.  The defense is there (sort of).  The return game is not.

Next week I'll post a Winning Stats review from 2009, and I'll post my Excel file so you can check any game from this season for it's ranking.

Go Colts!