Selected Recap: Ravens 34, Jets 17: All The Turnovers

Sunday Night Football, ostensibly, gives a primetime view to what should be a great matchup between two of the league's top teams. Sometimes, this ideal is foiled by circumstances outside of the team's control -- take, for example, Peyton Manning's injury lowering the quality of Week 3's Steelers-Colts matchup. But sometimes, a good matchup is there, and both teams play ugly, ugly football.

This was certainly the case in Week 4's Sunday Night matchup, as both the Baltimore Ravens and the New York Jets combined to fail to produce a 100 yard runner or a completion percentage over 33%. Both teams did manage to produce seven turnovers, however. This was the source of Baltimore's big victory: three of the four turnovers forced by the Ravens' defense turned into six points on the other end.

The newly-updated defensive statistics noticed -- Baltimore's Terrell Suggs and LarDarius Webb rank as the top two defenders of Week 4 according to positive expected points added, notching 11.6 and 10.9 +EPA respectively. These two were involved in many positive plays and they were often big, game-changing plays.

Jameel McClain (6.6 +EPA) and Ed Reed (6.2 +EPA) also put up big performances in a turnover-laden performance for Mark Sanchez and the Jets. Unsurprisingly, given the fact that the Ravens scored three of their touchdowns on defensive plays, a good deal of these +EPA totals come from the forced turnovers and the ensuing returns.

Observe, a chart detailing the EPA and WPA of the game's seven turnovers:

Reed and McClain combined on the Ravens' first touchdown, with Reed sacking Mark Sanchez and forcing the fumble and then McClain finishing the job, carrying the ball six yards into the end zone. This play accounts for 4.1 of the pair's +EPA and a solid +0.07 WPA.

Suggs and Webb combined for the biggest turnover, the clincher in the third quarter. With the Jets down 10, Suggs heavily pressured Sanchez, hitting the quarterback as he released a floating pass into the arms of a waiting Webb, who took the ball 73 yards for the score. The Ravens picked up 9.95 EPA and a crushing +0.2 WPA on this score as they took a 17-point lead and didn't look back.

Overall, the Ravens picked up a whopping +0.53 WPA and over 26 EPA from the four turnovers they forced. Even with the offense coughing up the ball three times, the Ravens still ended up ahead by +0.39 WPA and just under 13 expected points added in the turnover battle. 

The Jets had a couple of big turnovers of their own, most notably an interception which David Harris brought back for a touchdown to make the game 27-14 at the half. This at least gave the Jets life, but with Sanchez, Shonn Greene, LaDainian Tomlinson and the rest of the Jets' offense rendered ineffective, it didn't matter for the Ravens, who cruised to a victory and a 3-1 record.

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6 Responses to “Selected Recap: Ravens 34, Jets 17: All The Turnovers”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very cool. What does OVR mean on the graph? Overall?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Brian, Can you do an analysis on the Colts-Bucs 4th and 5 play at the end of the game? This seems right up your alley. I have to think that you need to go for it in that situation, even if you have Curtis Painter on your squad.

  3. Jack Moore says:

    Whoops, should've pointed that out. Yes, OVR is Overall.

  4. Mike B says:

    On the 4th and 5 in Colts-Bucs: I was playing around with the WP calculator, and I think it's pretty clear the Colts should have gone for it.

    The WP for Tampa Bay at their own 35 is 0.98. The WP for Tampa Bay at the Colts' 25 is 0.98. So, the punt had no impact on WP! (within rounding - I based this on 2:45 left in the game and 1st and 10 with a +7 differential).

    A 1st and 10 for the Colts at their own 30 gives them a 0.13 WP. It looks like probability of converting 4th and 5 is around 0.45. So going for it gives a WP if 0.45*0.13 + 0.55*0.02 = 0.07. While punting gives you a WP of 0.02.

    So, punting cost the Colts 0.05 WP. And as long as you had any non-zero chance of converting, going for it would be the right decision (within rounding).

    Hopefully I got those numbers right.

  5. Brian Burke says:

    Mike-Are you trying to put me out of a job? :)

    Good analysis. It might seem strange that the WP is identical at 0.98 regardless of field position. Essentially, the model is telling us, TB can end the game with a 1st down, and it (mostly) doesn't matter where on the field that occurs.

    And you are exactly correct to mention rounding. Rounding plays a bigger role the closer we get to WP's extremes of 1 and 0.

    I usually abandon the automatic WP model and do a direct analysis of the situation. I will go directly to the raw numbers and review the "needs a TD to win/tie" numbers from various field positions at the particular time remaining.

  6. Mike B says:

    Brian - I don't think there's any danger of that.

    As a Colts fan, when I bitch and moan about Caldwell's decisions, I like my bitching and moaning to be backed up by sound analysis.

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