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What happens to NFL teams that get shut out?

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The Post-Mortem cuts open the Giants to see if there's any hope left after Sunday's shutout by the Eagles. Also on the slab this week, the Buccaneers and their first-quarter failings, the Raiders' futility and more.

Evan Habeeb

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Many NFL games aren't truly decided until the third or fourth quarters, when one team makes an extra play or two that the other cannot match. But some games are over and done with much earlier because of ENDS. A team with ENDS plays so poorly on defense during the first quarter that the rest of the game feels like a pointless formality. And no team has a worse case of ENDS in 2014 than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who gave up four touchdowns and over 200 yards to the Ravens before the first 15 minutes were out.

Nor was this an isolated case. Looking just at the first quarter of this season's games, the Bucs are last in touchdowns allowed and next-to-last in yards per play allowed. Incredibly difficult as it is to give up 20 points in the first quarter of an NFL game -- it's only happened 54 times since the start of the 2000 season -- Tampa's already done it twice.


The easy diagnosis for the New York Jets is that they get inconsistent play from their quarterback. There is, however, a more troubling symptom at work: the decline of the Jets secondary. Look at the following ranking trends for the Jets over the past couple of seasons.

2012: 11th in passing touchdowns allowed, 23rd in interceptions, sixth in yards per opposing pass attempt
2013: 14th in passing touchdowns allowed, 22nd in interceptions, 15th in yards per opposing pass attempt
2014: Last in passing touchdowns allowed, last in interceptions, 20th in yards per opposing pass attempt

Some of this may be the schedule, since the Jets have faced the Packers, Bears, Lions, Chargers and Broncos all in a row. But if it's not? This team may be in more trouble than anyone knows.


Our Case Study section is usually a place to address those in failing performance health, but this week we're taking a look at two excellent quarterbacks and their comparative statistics when playing from behind since 2012.

Patient A has completed 64.3 percent of his passes for an average gain of 7.6 yards per passing attempt and throws 2.2 touchdowns for every interception.

Patient B has a slightly higher completion percentage (66.9), a slightly higher yardage per passing attempt (7.9) and a much better touchdown-to-interception ratio (3.8).

Both patients are top-tier quarterbacks who keep their team in every game. Can you guess who they are?

BONUS! Because we just can't help but examine the football-ill, we're adding a Patient C to this study. In situations where his team has trailed since 2012, Patient C has completed 57.9 percent of his passes, averaged 6.8 yards per attempt, and has a dismal 1.35 touchdowns for every interception.

(Answers are at the end of this column.)


Though they could have attempted a sad 41-yard field goal at the end of the game, the Giants chose to take the valiant path and lost to the Eagles without scoring a point. This made us wonder: what happens to teams that get shut out during the regular season? 151 teams have been the victim of a shutout since the start of the 1990 season, and we tracked the final results for all of them. The good news: you can still make the playoffs!

The bad news: if you do, you likely won't do much while you're there.


  • The Lions are 24th in points scored yet sit atop the NFC North at 4-2. The reason? Their defense, one of only two (the other belongs to Denver) that ranks in the top five in both yards per opposing rushing attempt and yards per opposing passing attempt.
  • Tom Brady's career record when he throws four or more touchdowns is an impressive 20-1, a better winning percentage than Peyton Manning (29-3). This fulfills our monthly requirement to compare Tom Brady to Peyton Manning.
  • Since 1990, the Browns and Steelers have played 45 games. Pittsburgh has won by three scores in 12 of those games, and the Browns had only won by that margin in two ... until Sunday, when they smashed the Steelers 31-10.
  • Jacksonville's allowed 27 sacks this year; the real trouble is that 12 of them have come on first down, more than any other team in the league.
  • In 2013, Seattle led the NFL with 66 runs of 10 yards or more. The Seahawks only managed one in their loss to the Cowboys.
  • The Washington offense started at or inside its own 20-yard line on 11 drives. That kind of field-position disadvantage is becoming a persistent problem; only two teams have a worse average starting position than Washington.
  • Since 2003, the Raiders are 2-9 when entering the fourth quarter with the score tied, as it was in their eventual loss to San Diego. That's the second-worst winning percentage in the NFL in that time span.
  • The worst third- and fourth-down run defense? Cincinnati's, which gives up 6.7 yards per carry and allows a first-down conversion 65 percent of the time. The Panthers took advantage of that weekend, picking up a new set of downs on all four of their third- or fourth-down runs.

Unusual case study answers: Patient A is Drew Brees. Patient B is Aaron Rodgers. Patient C is Joe Flacco.