Using our Markov model, we can look at the evolution of the drive:
Andy Dalton and the Bengals offense started the drive at their own 7-yard line after a Patriots punt from midfield. To start with, Cincinnati had nearly a 60% of punting and only a 13% chance of scoring a touchdown. Two plays later, after an eight-yard loss on a sack, Dalton was staring at an improbable conversion on 3rd-and-15 from his own two. At this point, that punting probability had jumped to almost 85% and the probability of a touchdown fell to just 5%. Dalton completed a 28-yard strike to Marvin Jones for 28 yards, cutting the punt probability in half. Giovanni Bernard followed suit with a 28-yard run, dropping the punt probability to under 20% and increasing the Bengals' chances of scoring to almost 70%.
But the drive didn't end there. Dalton and company converted on two more third downs (plays 7 and 10), and ultimately faced a 4th-and-Goal from the 1-yard line. Marvin Lewis made the win-maximizing decision and decided to go for it. The Law Firm carried it across the goal line for a much needed score and the Bengals didn't look back as they went on to give the Patriots their first defeat of the year, 13-6.
Keith Goldner is the Chief Analyst at numberFire.com - The leading fantasy sports analytics platform - and creator of Drive-By Football. Follow him on twitter @drivebyfootball or check out numberFire on Facebook.