Cardinals Come Back From The Brink

Posted Sep 18, 2017

As the minutes ticked away in the fourth quarter on Sunday, it was clear the Cardinals were perilously close to an 0-2 start to the season. But just how improbable was their comeback victory over the Colts?

As the minutes ticked away in the fourth quarter on Sunday, it was clear the Cardinals were perilously close to an 0-2 start to the season. But just how improbable was their comeback victory over the Colts?

ESPN has an algorithm that computes a team's win expectancy after every play. The Cardinals’ low point, not surprisingly, came as they stared down a third-and-20 from their 18 with 8:14 remaining in the fourth quarter. The deficit was already at 10 points, and before the snap, their odds of winning were tabbed at only 3.2 percent.

In a vast majority of cases, a team facing a third-and-20 will have to punt two plays later. If the Cardinals did that, it would have taken a perfect finish to win.

Instead, quarterback Carson Palmer found Jaron Brown for a 22-yard gain, and a roughing the passer penalty tacked on 15 more yards. J.J. Nelson caught a 45-yard touchdown one play later, and all of a sudden, the win probability jumped to 28.2 percent.

Once Phil Dawson connected on the overtime field goal, the Cardinals officially completed the biggest comeback on the young season, according to ESPN.

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