Monday, February 7, 2005
Updated: February 8, 11:49 AM ET
The numbers never lie
By Aaron Schatz
Special to Page 2
Ten random nuggets from the Super Bowl:
1. The Eagles turned the ball over twice in the first quarter, not
counting the interception cancelled by a penalty and the fumble
overruled by replay review. That's TWICE the number of first-quarter
turnovers as the Eagles had the entire rest of the season. Philadelphia's only previous first-quarter turnover the entire season
was a lost Donovan McNabb fumble on a sack by Green Bay.
But first-quarter takeaways are nothing new for the Patriots. They led the NFL with 11
first-quarter takeaways during the regular season and then added
another two against Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.
2. During the regular season, the Eagles averaged over 7.3 yards per offensive play during the first quarter (not counting penalties). No
other offense -- including Indianapolis -- averaged over seven yards
per play during the first quarter. In Super Bowl XXXIX, the Eagles
averaged less 2.8 yards per offensive play during the first quarter.
3. Corey Dillon had 31 yards receiving -- a season high. Week 4 against Buffalo was the only regular-season game where Dillon had three
receptions. Dillon had three receptions twice in the postseason.
4. During the regular season, the Patriots did not allow a touchdown reception by a running back, and they did not intercept a pass
intended for a running back. They did both in Super Bowl XXXIX.
5. Deion Branch is the fourth wide receiver to be named MVP of the Super Bowl, and the first in 16 years. The others were: Lynn Swann, Super Bowl X (4 catches, 161 yards); Fred Biletnikoff, Super Bowl XI (4 catches, 79 yards); and Jerry Rice, Super Bowl XXIII (11 catches, 215 yards). Branch is also the first Super
Bowl MVP to have a pass bounce off his butt -- it was the only pass
thrown to him that he didn't catch.
6. Branch's MVP award was a surprise, but his big day was not. All season long, Philadelphia gave up big days to No. 1 receivers.
They gave up a season-high 135 yards to Roy Williams, a season-high 80
yards to Travis Taylor, 116 yards to David Terrell, and 100 yards to
7. The first-quarter red zone sack where Donovan McNabb lost 16 yards was the fifth-biggest sack of the season. The biggest was a 23-yard
sack of Trent Green by Denver in Week 1. There were three 17-yard
sacks, including one of Michael Vick by the Eagles in the NFC
Championship Game, one other 16-yard sack, and four 15-yard sacks.
Three of these 10 sacks of 15 yards or more were by the Patriots, including the only two that took place while the offense was in field-goal range. (By the way, five of these 10 sacks of 15 yards or more were on quarterbacks named "McCown.")
8. During the first 15 weeks of the season, when Terrell Owens was healthy, the Eagles threw to Owens 17 times in the red zone. They
threw to other wide receivers in the red zone a grand total of one time:
an incomplete pass to Freddie Mitchell on third-and-goal from the 5-yard
line against Green Bay. During the Super Bowl, Philadelphia threw
five red-zone passes: three to running back Brian Westbrook, two to tight end L.J. Smith, and zero to wide receivers.
9. This was the first game of the season where New England allowed four different opposing players to gain at least 50 yards receiving.
The only other game where New England allowed four different opposing
players to gain at least 40 yards receiving was the 27-24 win over
Indianapolis in the first game. Kansas City and St. Louis were the only other two teams this season to have three receivers with at least 50 yards receiving against the
10. The combined regular-season record of the New England opponents was 40-8. Based on regular-season records of opponents, that makes this the
the most difficult Super Bowl title in NFL history. The previous best
combined regular-season record of opponents on the way to a Super Bowl
title was the 1969 Kansas City Chiefs, at 34-7-1. Seven teams have won
the Super Bowl facing opposing teams that averaged better than a .750
winning percentage. They are:
2004 New England Patriots, .833
1969 Kansas City Chiefs, .821
1967 Green Bay Packers, .810
1990 New York Giants, .792
1976 Oakland Raiders, .774
2001 New England Patriots, .771
1972 Miami Dolphins, .762
Aaron Schatz is editor-in-chief of FootballOutsiders.com.