Eli's QBR vs. 49ers: Why so low?

William Perlman/TheStar-Ledger/US Presswire

Although Eli Manning threw for over 300 yards with a pair of touchdowns, his performance in Sunday's NFC Championship Game win was below average and one of his worst of the season.

Much is being made about Eli Manning’s NFC Championship Game performance against the 49ers on Sunday. Most are saying Eli Manning thoroughly outplayed Alex Smith. Some are saying Manning is the best quarterback entering Super Bowl XLVI. A few are calling it one of the best quarterback performances in recent playoff memory.

Total QBR totally disagrees.

Eli Manning’s QBR in the game was 30.9, which was his fifth-worst of the season. He barely outplayed Alex Smith, who finished the game with a similarly subpar QBR of 30.5. The Total QBR scale goes from 0-100, with a 50 being an average performance.

Here are several reasons why Eli’s game is rated so low.

• He was sacked six times for 49 yards. Five of those six came against five or more pass rushers, and four of them were on third down with manageable distances (2, 3, 7, and 8). QBR analysis found that quarterbacks should receive more blame on sacks with extra pass rushers as the good ones recognize the blitz and either bring more blockers in to protect pre-snap or get rid of the ball quicker.

• He had a fumble with the game tied early in the first quarter. It was recovered by his teammates, but the fact that he did not recover it himself means he had no control over which team actually did. Thus his QBR is deducted accordingly.

• In the second half and overtime of a game that was close throughout, he threw the ball 31 times, 16 of which were complete, but only seven for first downs. If you include the four second-half sacks, that’s 35 pass plays, seven first downs – or one of every five pass plays resulting in a first down.

Most Pass Attempts in Win
NFL Postseason History

• In the second half and overtime, the Giants had 12 drives, 10 of which ended in punts. Nine of those 10 drives ended with a Manning incompletion or sack on third down. Two of those were drops, but even if you take those into account, that’s seven times that Manning was a large part of why a scoring chance ended.

• The other two drives were short fields (24 or 29 yards) set up by Kyle Williams fumbles. Manning threw a touchdown on the first of those, but the other ended with the game-winning field goal with basically no contribution from Manning.

• Of the four plays that increased New York’s win probability the most, Manning was a part of zero. Of the eight plays that decreased New York’s win probability the most, Manning was a part of six.

Finally, keep in mind that QBR is a rate statistic. Though he threw a lot and for a lot of yards, Manning’s efficiency in producing this win was just not very high. This was not an Eli Manning victory. This was a great defense keeping Manning in check and a couple of special teams errors propelling him to fame.