Categorized | 2010 Playoffs, Article, News

Explosive Plays, Takeaways & Toxic Differential Stats In Super Bowls


We all have heard the phrase, "Make big plays and don\'t turn the ball over." It sounds cliché, but former Ravens head coach and NFL Network analyst Brian Billick has a stat for it. It is called, "toxic differential." It has been around and discussed several times. It is it\'s a risk-reward stat and it is made up of two parts. The first part is how many big plays/explosive gains (20-plus yards) teams make minus how many they allow defensively. It also is made up of the basic takeaways versus giveaways stat. In short you take the big play differential and then add the takeaway differential and you get the toxic differential stat. NFL Network analysts Jim Mora Jr. states "Teams that win the explosive-gains differential win 65 percent of their games and teams that have accomplished both a positive turnover and explosive gains differential win over 92 percent of their games."

I wanted to compare this to Super Bowl games so I dug up all of the stats. I believe these to be accurate, but do let me know if you see any discrepancies or errors. Only 17 times in 44 Super Bowls has a team swept and won both the big play differential and the takeaway differential and all 17 times that team won the Super Bowl. Another stat fact is that only 5 times has the team that won the Super Bowl had a negative toxic number. The last team to accomplish that was the Steelers in Super Bowl XL over the Seahawks. There have been 8 games in which teams battled to a zero push toxic number and in those 8 games; 6 times the winner of the game also won the takeaway differential.

We talked about big plays during the season of both the Steelers and Packers here last week, but 14 times a team has lost the big play differential in the Super Bowl and yet went on to win the game. The record of the winning team in the big play differential stat when there was not a push through 44 Super Bowls is 23-14 (62%), almost to the 65% Mora stated. When a team has been +2 or more though in the big play/explosive gains stat the record in Super Bowls is 15-4 (79%). Meanwhile the record of the winning team in the takeaway differential stat is 31-3 (91%). Finally the record of the winning team in the toxic differential stat is 31-5 (86%).

To wrap this up, the toxic differential stat certainly holds water in Super Bowl history especially if a team sweeps both the big plays/explosive gains and takeaway differential, however if you can only win one, it is advisable to win the takeaway battle.

Year Super Bowl Winner Big Plays Takeaways Loser Big Plays Takeaways Winner Toxic +/- Winner Big Plays +/- Winner Takeaways +/-
2009 XLIV Saints 2 1 Colts 3 0 0 -1 1
2008 XLIII Steelers 4 2 Cardinals 5 1 0 -1 1
2007 XLII Giants 3 1 Patriots 0 1 3 3 0
2006 XLI Colts 3 2 Bears 2 1 2 1 1
2005 XL Steelers 4 1 Seahawks 4 2 -1 0 -1
2004 XXXIX Patriots 3 4 Eagles 5 1 1 -2 3
2003 XXXVIII Patriots 5 1 Panthers 7 1 -2 -2 0
2002 XXXVII Buccaneers 4 5 Raiders 3 1 5 1 4
2001 XXXVI Patriots 3 3 Rams 6 0 0 -3 3
2000 XXXV Ravens 2 5 Giants 1 0 6 1 5
1999 XXXIV Rams 4 0 Titans 4 0 0 0 0
1998 XXXIII Broncos 4 4 Falcons 2 1 5 2 3
1997 XXXII Broncos 3 2 Packers 4 2 -1 -1 0
1996 XXXI Packers 4 4 Patriots 3 0 5 1 4
1995 XXX Cowboys 4 3 Steelers 0 0 7 4 3
1994 XXIX 49ers 5 3 Chargers 6 0 2 -1 3
1993 XXVIII Cowboys 3 3 Bills 2 1 3 1 2
1992 XXVII Cowboys 6 9 Bills 4 2 9 2 7
1991 XXVI Redskins 5 5 Bills 2 1 7 3 4
1990 XXV Giants 2 0 Bills 4 0 -2 -2 0
1989 XXIV 49ers 6 4 Broncos 3 0 7 3 4
1988 XXIII 49ers 5 1 Bengals 2 1 3 3 0
1987 XXII Redskins 7 3 Broncos 3 1 6 4 2
1986 XXI Giants 4 1 Broncos 5 0 0 -1 1
1985 XX Bears 5 6 Patriots 1 2 8 4 4
1984 XIX 49ers 4 2 Dolphins 4 2 0 0 0
1983 XVIII Raiders 3 3 Redskins 4 2 0 -1 1
1982 XVII Redskins 4 2 Dolphins 1 2 3 3 0
1981 XVI 49ers 2 4 Bengals 2 1 3 0 3
1980 XV Raiders 4 4 Eagles 4 0 4 0 4
1979 XIV Steelers 7 1 Rams 5 3 0 2 -2
1978 XIII Steelers 7 3 Cowboys 5 3 2 2 0
1977 XII Cowboys 2 8 Broncos 1 2 7 1 6
1976 XI Raiders 5 3 Vikings 4 0 4 1 3
1975 X Steelers 4 3 Cowboys 3 0 4 1 3
1974 IX Steelers 4 5 Vikings 1 2 6 3 3
1973 VIII Dolphins 1 2 Vikings 2 0 1 -1 2
1972 VII Dolphins 2 3 Redskins 0 2 3 2 1
1971 VI Cowboys 3 3 Dolphins 3 1 2 0 2
1970 V Colts 7 4 Cowboys 1 7 3 6 -3
1969 IV Chiefs 3 5 Vikings 3 1 4 0 4
1968 III Jets 2 5 Colts 3 1 3 -1 4
1967 II Packers 2 3 Raiders 4 0 1 -2 3
1966 I Packers 3 1 Chiefs 4 1 -1 -1 0

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