Miami Lost And Then Won The Game On Two Huge Special-Teams Plays

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With about five minutes remaining in a tied contest against Minnesota, Miami received a kickoff with the game seemingly tilted in their favor with Win Probability at 61 percent and an opportunity to run clock and take a late go-ahead lead. But rookie wideout Jarvis Landry slipped on the return, got swarmed by Minnesota's kick coverage, and fumbled at Miami's five yard line, which gave Minnesota incredible field position and resulted in the biggest play in the NFL Sunday in terms of WPA, according to Advanced Football Anayltics data. The fumble lowered Miami's Win Probability 42 percentage points—from 61 percent to 19 percent—and led to a Minnesota touchdown run one play later. Fortunately for Miami, they were able overcome this with a Tannehill-led touchdown drive followed by their own special-teams WPA swing.

With less than a minute remaining, Minnesota was set to punt to Miami from deep in their own territory. Since the game was tied up at 35 apiece, Miami would likely only need a few first downs to set up a game-winning field goal attempt. But that scenario didn't materialize because defensive end Terrence Fede (also a rookie) got a great jump on the snap and put his hands up just in time to swat Minnesota's punt out of the back of the end zone, which resulted in a safety and the final points of the game. The play raised Miami's Win Probability 28 percentage points—from 70 percent to 98 percent—and gave the Dolphins the lead without having to field another kick.


As seen in the chart below, following Landry's fumble, Minnesota's Win Probability reached as high 91 percent near the two-minute warning. But then Tannehill connected on a few passes and the blocked punt sealed the outcome.


Below are the most and least helpful plays of the week.

Play Team WPA EPA Qtr Time Down Distance Line
Derek Carr pass to Andre Holmes to for 51 yards. OAK 0.40 4.36 4 5:07 3 22 81
Brian Hoyer pass to Jordan Cameron for 81 yards TOUCHDOWN. CLV 0.38 6.87 4 10:11 3 6 81
Ryan Tannehill pass incomplete deep left to Mike Wallace. MIA 0.25 3.01 4 1:21 3 14 18
Philip Rivers pass to Dontrelle Inman for 17 yards. SD 0.24 3.44 4 0:54 4 10 26
Russell Wilson pass to Luke Willson for 80 yards TOUCHDOWN. SEA 0.24 6.44 2 7:16 2 10 80
Jarvis Landry kickoff return for 6 yards to MIA 6, FUMBLES, RECOVERED by MIN-Antone Exum at MIA 5. MIA -0.42 -6.15 4 4:59 n/a n/a 70
Mark Sanchez pass INTERCEPTED by Bashaud Breeland at WAS 42, returned for no gain. PHI -0.32 -2.96 4 1:36 3 4 48
Jeff Locke punt is BLOCKED by Terrence Fede, ball out of bounds in End Zone, SAFETY. MIN -0.28 -2.03 4 0:45 4 12 89
Tom Brady pass INTERCEPTED by NYJ-Marcus Williams at NE 31, returned for 1 yard. NE -0.23 -2.95 4 7:26 2 15 81
Ryan Tannehill sacked at MIN 27 for -13 yards by Tom Johnson. MIA -0.20 -1.84 4 2:00 1 10 14

[Advanced Football Analytics]