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Jets vs. Chiefs: What Was the Most Important Play of the Game?

New York Jets v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

What was the most important play of yesterday's game?

What does Pro Football Reference's win probability think?

Pro Football Reference has a win probability formula that estimates a team's chances of winning based on factors like score, time, and down. Which play swung the game the most in the Chiefs' favor yesterday by that formula?

This formula has the kickoff fumble by Jalin Marshall and return for a touchdown to put the Chiefs up 17-0 as the play that swung the game the most. The Chiefs already were at 87% to win so they were sitting pretty before the fumble. After the fumble and touchdown, Kansas City had a 95.6% chance of winning. The sequence improved the Chiefs’ odds by 8.6%.

What do I think?

I don’t even think it is debatable. The biggest play of this game was the interception Ryan Fitzpatrick threw late in the third quarter picked off by Eric Berry. The Jets were second and goal at the Kansas City 5 yard line about to cut the Chiefs’ lead to 17-10.

This game after Spencer Ware’s blunder on the goal line, fumbling the ball away right as he was about to give the Chiefs what likely would have been an insurmountable three score lead.

That was the type of play that turns games around, and it felt at the time like the Jets were on the verge of swinging the momentum. For the first time all game, they caught a break. For the first time all game, they put together a drive and moved the ball. Then came the killer interception. Things just snowballed on Fitzpatrick from that point.

Marshall’s fumble was second, but it was a distant second. That put the Chiefs up 17-0. I think there is a big difference between being down two scores and being down three scores. If you are down by two, you can stay within the flow of the offense. Being down three forces you into catch up mode. The run game is significantly curtailed. You can’t afford to try and establish the run, pick up a few first downs, punt, and play field position. On a day where Matt Forte looked effective, that was no small deal.

Still, the Jets had a chance to make it a game after that point. Fitzpatrick threw it away. That is why I think that interception was the biggest play of the game.

What do you think?