After a grown-man run from Adrian Peterson to end the first half, the Green Bay Packers opened up the second half up only a touchdown to the dismal Vikings, 24-17. Aaron Rodgers led the Pack on a 16-play, 80-yard touchdown drive that lasted over eight minutes. During the march, Green Bay converted on three third downs and a fourth down. Let's look at the progression of the drive using our Markov model:
The third down conversions came on plays three, 12 and 15 (which is where you see the big spikes in touchdown probabilities). The biggest play, though, came on play 10 when Rodgers completed an 8-yard pass to Jordy Nelson, converting on 4th-and-3 from the Minnesota 42. Going for it here, in no-man's land, is certainly the right decision (EP of 0.88 versus -0.04 of a punt). Punt probability dropped from 76.7% to 6.8% after the conversion and touchdown probability increased by over 22%.
After an Eddie Lacy 1-yard touchdown, the Packers were not done. Green Bay forced a three-and-out that lasted less than two minutes, and returned to the grind on their own 26-yard line. This time, Rodgers faced only one third down during a five-and-a-half minute, 10-play drive en route to another touchdown.
In the end, the Vikings only ran four plays in the third quarter compared to the Packers 24. After starting the second half with a 76% chance to win the game, Green Bay never looked back, ending the third quarter with over a 97% of winning the game and handing Minnesota a predictable loss.
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.