Sunday, February 01, 2009

Super Bowl XLIII: Cardinals and Steelers, Actual Game Penalty Statistics

The scoreboard early in the fourth quarter shows the Steelers are heavy favorites to win the game. They have a 20-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.

Let's take a quick look at the penalty statistics. The Cardinals have 9-91 (9 penalties for 91 yards) and the Steelers have 2-15 (2 penalties for 15 yards). This is just as of the early part of the fourth quarter, the game is still going on.

You might think the huge disparity in calls against the Cardinals would work against them in the regular season. Not true -- the Cardinals did especially well in games where there were more penalties called against the Cardinals as opposed to the other team. For example, winning 26-20 at Seattle in week 11 when the Cardinals had 8 penalties and the Seahawks had 1 penalty. The correlation statistics for the Cardinals are -0.428 correlation of percent penalties to scoring margin and -0.494 correlation of percent penalties to won/loss result.

Maybe the answer is that the regular season has too small of a sample size.

This only looks at the raw statistics, not a specific criticism of the quality of the calls being made. Post your comments about specific calls!

The Steelers had a slightly negative correlation in the regular season also, -0.201 correlation of % penalties to scoring margin and -0.113 % penalties to won/loss result.

For all teams, the correlation was minimal: 0.130 to scoring margin and 0.074 to won/loss result.


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