Houston Texans Advanced Stat of the Week: 4th-Quarter Comebacks
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Nothing stirs the passion of NFL fans like an expert drive by a quarterback to win a game.
The fourth-quarter comeback may not sound like an advanced stat, but given how difficult it has been for the statistical community to agree on what constitutes a comeback, it's a topic that merits further examination.
Thanks to the work of Scott Kacsmar, football now has a definition of how fourth-quarter comebacks should be awarded. The result is that completely bogus records like John Elway's utterly mythical 47 comebacks have been exposed and debunked as the fraudulent fabrications of team media guides.
The basic rules for a comeback are:
- The team has to win the game in which it trailed in the fourth quarter.
- The offense has to contribute points in the fourth quarter. If a team trails 14-10 and returns an interception for a game-winning touchdown, the quarterback should get no credit for the comeback. It does not matter if the offense put up all the points in the fourth quarter, as long as the offense put up some of the points.
- A game-winning drive is not the same as a comeback. A great drive with the score tied 17-17 might result in a win, but it's not a comeback.
These rules clarify that it is Dan Marino, followed closely by Peyton Manning and Elway, who leads the all-time comebacks scoreboard.
These parameters help to clarify what is a true comeback, and what constitutes a game-winning drive.
The Texans had two games featuring Game-Winning Drives (GWD) that weren't comebacks in 2010. Matt Schaub gets credit for a GWD against Pittsburgh as the Texans scored a touchdown after the Steelers tied the game at 10 to start the fourth quarter.
T.J. Yates had a GWD against the Falcons, as the Texans again broke a 10-all tie with a touchdown. Yates' most memorable performance came against the Bengals, however. In that game, the Texans trailed in the fourth quarter and Yates brought them back. This gave him credit for both a GWD and comeback.
While rare, it's possible for a quarterback to get credit for a comeback, but not a game-winning drive. Last year, the Texans lost 25-20 to the Raiders. Trailing 25-17, they drove into field-goal range, and the kick cut the deficit to five.
If the Texans had posted a defensive score or a kick return for a touchdown, they would have won the game 27-25. Matt Schaub would have received credit for a comeback, because he helped contribute via the field-goal drive. However, because the offense wouldn't have posted the go-ahead points, he would not have been credited with a GWD.
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