How Eli Manning's Throwaway Impacted the Outcome of Sunday Night's Game
Despite a mediocre offensive performance, the Giants looked to be a lock to beat the Cowboys in Dallas on Sunday night.
The score was 23-20, and the G-Men faced a 3rd-and-1 on the Cowboys' goal line. The clock was running, and the game already hit the two-minute warning.
Rather than trying to pound the ball in for a game-ending touchdown, Eli Manning took the third down snap and rolled to his right on a play-action pass. Nothing was there, so Manning threw the ball away in the back of the end zone. Meanwhile, he could've fallen over into the fetal position and taken a sack, allowing for more time to run on the clock before attempting a chip-shot field goal.
After the play, according to our metrics, the Giants had a win probability of 96.09% -- the chance of them winning the game was high, so throwing the ball away wasn't a huge deal.
But if we play the hindsight game, it kind of was. Tony Romo had extra time on the clock to take the Cowboys down the field for a touchdown, and that's exactly what he did. (Because Tony Romo is clutch.)
— numberFire (@numberFire) September 14, 2015
So the mathematical question on everyone's mind: what would have happened if Eli took a sack rather than throwing the ball away?
Per our very own Keith Goldner, if Manning would have fallen to the ground to grind out some clock, the Giants' probability of winning last night's game would have jumped to 98.01%. That doesn't seem like a big change, but his throwing the ball away actually doubled the Cowboys' chances (though their chances were slim) of coming back in the contest.