There’s been a lot of talk about the record passing numbers this season.
New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees broke Dan Marino’s single-season passing yardage record with 5,476 passing yards in the regular season.
Ten quarterbacks threw for over 4,000 passing yards in 2011, considered one of the barometers of a successful season passing the football.
But as Len Pasquarelli of the Sports Xchange noted this week, winning the turnover differential had more to do with who moved on in this year’s playoffs than having an elite quarterback.
How else do you explain San Francisco’s Alex Smith beating Brees, and Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers falling to the Eli Manning and the New York Giants at home?
As Pasquarelli points out, in 20 divisional-round games from 2007 to 2011, the team with the advantage in the takeaway/turnover differential has won all but three games.
So maybe the generally held truth that you need an elite quarterback to win a Super Bowl is negated if you can manage the game with a consistent running offense, steal a few possessions by forcing some turnovers, and be efficient in the red zone?
This weekend will be another interesting test case to that theory. Both Baltimore and San Francisco, led by coaching brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, play a similar style to Seattle – they rely on a run-oriented offense that limits turnovers and leans on their defense to make plays.
And the Ravens and Niners face two of the best quarterbacks and passing offense in the league in the New York Giants and New England Patriots, so we’ll see how the elite quarterbacks fare against two of the best defenses in terms of limiting points and creating turnovers in the league.
As I noted earlier, this year from time to time we’ll take a look at something I call Sudden Change situations, which is basically what a teams does when a turnovers happens. Does the offense take the ball, march down the field and hang six points on the other team? Does the defense toughen up and force the other team to punt?
Six games into the season, the Seahawks were 20th in the league in Sudden Change situations. Seattle had a -3 turnover differential, and the Seahawks had given up 20 points off 11 turnovers while scoring just 10 points off eight turnovers forced by the defense.
That number was much better by the end of the year. The Seahawks moved up to a tie for fifth in Sudden Change situations. Seattle finished with a +8 turnover differential.
The Seahawks gave up 51 points off 23 turnovers, while scoring an impressive 100 points off 31 forced turnovers by the defense.
Check out the full list below.
Sudden Change situations
|Team||TO-forced||TO-lost||Net||G-away Pts.||T-away Pts.||Net|