How Statistically Unlikely Was The Lions' Comeback Against The Cowboys?

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Maybe gawking at the convergence of unlikely comebacks and predictable collapses will get old someday, but by god, that day isn't today. So let's look at how the Cowboys went from a 99 percent chance of winning to a Matt Stafford impromptu Marino in less than 90 seconds.


After Stafford threw incomplete on 4th and 12 with 1:33 left in the fourth quarter on his own 34-yard-line, the Advanced NFL Stats Win Probability machine had the Cowboys with a 99 percent probability of winning the game. (Win Probability is calculated using a variety of factors, including score, time remaining, down and distance, and field position.) It was down to 85 by the time the Cowboys had to settle for a field goal after taking just 26 seconds off the clock, but back to 93 percent following Stafford's spike after hitting Calvin Johnson for a moderate gain. Then, off the cliff it went.

As with the Patriots' comeback against the Saints a few weeks back, remember that Win Probability is a guide more than an exact forecast. And groaning Cowboys fans who basically resigned themselves to the loss as soon as Bailey's field goal went up probably won't find much to dissuade them of the inevitability of yesterday here. But who cares? This is one of those times when the important thing is that we have a very good guess about how likely a Cowboys win was, and a very fun illustration of how they pissed it away.


[Advanced NFL Stats]