How Every NFL Drive in 2012 Ended: The Data


Dec 9, 2012; Seattle, WA, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback John Skelton (19) is hit by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Chris Clemons (91) after passing the ball during the 1st quarter at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday I took at look at the number of drives that each team’s defense was on the field for. Those results were interesting, but they didn’t tell us much about what those drives resulted in. We were able to infer some of that based on the total points given up by those teams, but honestly, I want something more concrete than that.

I decided to take a look at how each of those drives ended. It doesn’t matter if a defense isn’t on the field much compared to other teams, if that defense still gives up a lot of touchdowns. (I’m looking at you Cowboys.) Ultimately, I believe the true measure of the quality of a defense is somewhere to be found in this particular data set. 

Unless I’ve made a horrible mistake here, drives can only end in 7 different ways: a touchdown, a field goal attempt, a punt, a turnover, a failed 4th down attempt, a safety, and at the end of a half. That’s a fairly limited number of possible outcomes, meaning I should be able to eventually tease out some very meaningful evaluation tools from this. We’ll see, there’s still a long way to go.

I was hoping to have some meaningful result to tell you about, but that’s going to have to wait until tomorrow. Compiling all this data took more time than I originally had available. Just getting this compiled and posted was all I could handle. I left off the safeties, since there’s only a couple total from the entire season and I’m already pushing the limits on the width of this table.

I did manage to give you the percentage for each outcome, though I’m not sure while that seems like a big deal in my head.

RkTeamDrivesTDFGAPuntsTO4thEoH1Seattle Seahawks1642314.02%2515.24%7746.95%3118.90%74.27%12Dallas Cowboys1683923.21%3319.64%7444.05%169.52%52.98%13Carolina Panthers1703319.41%3721.76%6739.41%2313.53%95.29%14New York Giants1703520.59%3017.65%5431.76%3520.59%116.47%55Indianapolis Colts1733721.39%4123.70%7141.04%158.67%42.31%56Kansas City Chiefs1734023.12%3821.97%7342.20%137.51%10.58%87San Francisco 49ers1732615.03%2715.61%7845.09%2514.45%116.36%68Pittsburgh Steelers1742816.09%3318.97%8850.57%2011.49%31.72%29Atlanta Falcons1763017.05%3218.18%6436.36%3117.61%73.98%1210Philadelphia Eagles1764425.00%2916.48%7743.75%137.39%84.55%511San Diego Chargers1763821.59%2111.93%7944.89%2815.91%63.41%412St. Louis Rams1763419.32%3721.02%7240.91%2111.93%105.68%213Washington Redskins1774223.73%3016.95%6536.72%3117.51%63.39%314Miami Dolphins1782815.73%4022.47%8547.75%168.99%52.81%415Buffalo Bills1794826.82%2815.64%7240.22%2111.73%63.35%416Oakland Raiders1804625.56%3720.56%6837.78%1910.56%63.33%417Minnesota Vikings1813820.99%3016.57%7641.99%2212.15%94.97%618Jacksonville Jaguars1834021.86%4323.50%6736.61%2312.57%52.73%519Green Bay Packers1843619.57%3016.30%7440.22%2312.50%147.61%720Tennessee Titans1844725.54%3116.85%6937.50%2413.04%84.35%521Detroit Lions1853921.08%4122.16%7942.70%179.19%10.54%822Cincinnati Bengals1862915.59%3217.20%8545.70%3016.13%73.76%323Denver Broncos1863016.13%2513.44%9350.00%2412.90%115.91%324New Orleans Saints1874926.20%3317.65%6233.16%2613.90%94.81%825New York Jets1873719.79%3116.58%8947.59%2312.30%31.60%426Tampa Bay Buccaneers1874322.99%2814.97%7640.64%2613.90%84.28%627Baltimore Ravens1903015.79%3920.53%8946.84%2513.16%63.16%128New England Patriots1913719.37%2513.09%6735.08%4121.47%147.33%729Chicago Bears1922513.02%2714.06%8845.83%4422.92%63.13%230Cleveland Browns1944121.13%2412.37%8845.36%2914.95%42.06%831Houston Texans1963417.35%2412.24%9045.92%2914.80%115.61%832Arizona Cardinals2053215.61%3517.07%9244.88%3316.10%52.44%8