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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Worst AY/A with 50+ Attempts in the Playoffs

In the 2015 AFC Championship Game, Tom Brady threw 56 passes for 310 yards with a touchdown and 2 interceptions, for an adjusted yards per attempt (AY/A) of 4.29. His New England Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos, 20-18.

Here are the ten lowest AY/A marks in a playoff game for a quarterback with 50+ attempts.

Fortunately for Carson Palmer, the Patriots-Broncos game happened first today, leaving 50 attempts as my cutoff instead of 40. Palmer posted a 1.88 AY/A on his 40 throws as the Cardinals got blown out by the Panthers, 49-15.

10. Andrew Luck, 2012 Wild Card round: 28-54 for 288, 0 TD, 1 INT (4.50 AY/A). L: Ravens 24, Colts 9.
Andrew Luck's first playoff game did not go well. The Colts actually ran for 152 yards, including 35 from Luck, snapping the ball a whopping 87 times yet only producing 9 points. The Colts managed to trail only 10-6 at halftime thanks to field goals of 47 and 52 yards. This was not a two-possession game until 9:40 remaining, after which Luck threw, ran, or was sacked on all but one play.

9. Danny White, 1983 Wild Card game: 32-53 for 330, 2 TD, 3 INT (4.43 AY/A). L: Rams 24, Cowboys 17.
This game was 7-7 at the half and Dallas led 10-7 in the third, but didn't score again until after they had fallen behind 24-10. Tony Dorsett was held to 59 yards on 17 carries.

8. Todd Collins, 2007 Wild Card round: 29-50 for 266, 2 TD, 2 INT (4.32 AY/A). L: Seahawks 35, Redskins 14.
I remember this one. The Redskins trailed 13-0 until Collins found Antwaan Randle El on the first play of the fourth quarter. A Matt Hasselbeck interception followed and the Redskins turned it into a 14-13 lead...and it was all downhill from there. Collins' picks came late trailing 21-14, and both were returned for touchdowns. Clinton Portis was held to 52 yards on 20 attempts.

7. Jim Kelly, Super Bowl XXVIII: 31-50 for 260, 0 TD, 1 INT (4.30 AY/A). L: Cowboys 30, Bills 13.
One of two Super Bowl appearances on this list. This game is well known for Buffalo's 13-6 halftime lead being erased on a Thurman Thomas fumble getting returned for a touchdown and the effort collapsing thereafter. Buffalo continued to run the ball but went three-and-out, allowed a touchdown, then suffered a 24-yard punt. Not until 27-13 did Kelly start consistently throwing, but Buffalo never scored again.

6. Brady on Sunday

5. Steve Young, 1995 Divisional Round: 32-65 for 328, 0 TD, 2 INT (3.66 AY/A). L: Packers 27, 49ers .17
San Francisco trailed 21-0 in the first quarter, and outside of Young's 9 carries for 77 yards, the 49ers ran 9 times for 10 yards. San Francisco managed to get to 21-10 despite some conservative decision making for a team trailing by 21, including a punt on 4th and 1 and a 21-yard field goal on 4th and goal from the three. Young kept throwing but to no avail.

4. Tom Brady, 2006 Divisional Round: 27-51 for 280, 2 TD, 3 INT (3.63 AY/A). W: Patriots 24, Chargers 21.
Yes, Brady with another game on this list, and, naturally, the only win. This was the one where he was intercepted with 6:25 left trailing 21-13 by Marlon McCree, who fumbled, allowing New England to tie the game anyway. They got the ball back with 3:30 to play and Brady completed 2 of 4 passes for 68 yards to lead to a 31 yard field goal. San Diego missed a 54 yarder with 3 seconds left to wrap the game up. As with many of these games, New England ran poorly: 21 times for 51 yards.

3. Jay Schroeder, 1986 NFC Championship Game: 20-50 for 195, 0 TD, 1 INT (3.00 AY/A). L: Giants 17, Redskins 0.
One of just two conference championship games on this list, this is the one where Bill Parcells took the wind to start the game, allowing the Giants to take a 10-0 lead through one. They scored again in the second quarter and the score held as Washington could not get anything going. (They also ran 15 times for 40 yards.) Schroeder threw for 4109 yards this season but could not muster anything against the dominating New York defense, which also sacked him 4 times for 45 yards (none by Lawrence Taylor, however).

2. Drew Bledsoe, 1995 Wild Card round: 21-50 for 235, 1 TD, 3 INT (2.40 AY/A). L: Browns 20, Patriots 13.
Bledsoe had a pretty sorry 3.6 AY/A in his playoff career, so unsurprisingly, asking him to pass 50 times did not work out, even though he attempted 626 passes in the regular season (setting the incomplete pass record in the process.) This game was 10-10 at halftime and the Patriots did not trail by multiple possessions until the fourth quarter. This was just how Parcells had his team playing in those days as Patriots backs managed 55 yards on 14 rushes.

1. Jim Kelly, Super Bowl XXVI: 28-58 for 275, 2 TD, 4 INT (2.33 AY/A). L: Redskins 37, Bills 24.
Yup, the other Super Bowl on this list is another Jim Kelly job. We end with a game that was indeed an early rout: despite a scoreless first quarter, Washington led 17-0 at halftime and 24-0 early in the third. Kelly was also sacked 5 times, losing 46 yards. Thurman Thomas was held to 13 yards on 10 carries after infamously forgetting his helmet at the start of the game. Thanks to a successful onside kick, about the best thing the Bills had done all day, they did muster a couple late touchdowns, while unsurprisingly passing all but 3 times, to turn a 37-10 deficit into a 37-24 final.

Despite the two late scoring tosses, Kelly ended up with 63 extremely ineffective dropbacks in one of the highest-volume, lowest-efficiency playoff games of all time.

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