Dropped Passes

Dropped Passes

Postby Oszuscik » Fri Jun 19, 2020 1:44 pm

The play by play in gamebooks used to always make note of when a receiver dropped a pass, but starting around the 1990's dropped passes were never noted, they were just scored like any other incomplete pass.

Does anyone know of any sources that actually track dropped passes dating back to the 1990's?

Thank you!
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby TodMaher » Sat Jun 20, 2020 12:42 pm

Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus - but I don't know how far back.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby NWebster » Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:08 pm

TodMaher wrote:Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus - but I don't know how far back.


I believe FO started chatting in '04. I chatted for them one year on '05. PFF started in '07. actually halfway through 2007, but years later they went back and filled in the gaps. Prior to that stats ink would be the best choice, but their model is to sell to organizations and leagues, not to provide data directly to individuals like they used to in books and such. but if you look at some of their books from the '90s you can find dropped passes.

The game books stopped including them as the NFL standardized them, which really started with the internet era, as early as around 1994.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby JohnR » Sun Jun 28, 2020 5:39 pm

It might be fun to create a list of the "top 20 most consequential drops" in NFL history. Just a few that immediately come to mind...
1942- Down 14-6 in the 4th qtr of the title game, Ray McClean (with a step on two defenders) drops a long throw at midfield. Hit him in the numbers.
1960- On the play just before Bednarik levels Gifford (11/20), Bob Schnelker drops a perfect Shaw bomb on the goal line. Eagles edge Giants for div title.
1961- Needing a week 14 win to force a playoff with the Giants, Ray Renfro drops Plum's late pass deep in NY territory. Ends in a tie sending NY to GB.
2012- Wes Welker drops what would have ben a game clinching 1st down in SB XLVI.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby BD Sullivan » Sun Jun 28, 2020 7:02 pm

JohnR wrote:It might be fun to create a list of the "top 20 most consequential drops" in NFL history. Just a few that immediately come to mind...
1961- Needing a week 14 win to force a playoff with the Giants, Ray Renfro drops Plum's late pass deep in NY territory. Ends in a tie sending NY to GB.


Renfro's drop led Paul Brown to coldly note that Renfro used to be able to make the big catch.

Other memorable drops:

*Jackie Smith in SB XIII

*The Browns' Dennis Northcutt in the 02 WC game. His drop would have (presumably) clinched the game, but instead gave the ball back to the Steelers, who scored to win with 58 seconds left.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby rhickok1109 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:13 am

On Christmas Eve 1995, a wide-open Yancey Thigpen dropped Neil O'Donnell's 4th-down pass in the Lambeau Field endzone with 11 seconds remaining. That gave the Packers a 24-19 win over the Steelers. As a result, the Packers finished with an 11-5 record to edge out the Lions for the NFC Central title.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby rhickok1109 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:35 am

One big trouble with tabulating dropped passes is that it's quite subjective. What one observer calls a drop might be called a poorly thrown pass by another observer.

For example, I don't consider consider Wes Welker's Super Bowl "drop" to be a drop at all. The ball was thrown high and to the wrong side and Welker had to make a twisting leap in his attempt to catch it.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby conace21 » Mon Jun 29, 2020 10:43 am

rhickok1109 wrote:One big trouble with tabulating dropped passes is that it's quite subjective. What one observer calls a drop might be called a poorly thrown pass by another observer.

For example, I don't consider consider Wes Welker's Super Bowl "drop" to be a drop at all. The ball was thrown high and to the wrong side and Welker had to make a twisting leap in his attempt to catch it.


There were only 9 seconds left to play in a 1989 AFC Divisional playoff game when Ronnie Harmon dropped a pass from Jim Kelly in the corner of the end zone. Clay Matthews intercepted Kelly on the next play to send Cleveland to face Denver in the AFC Championship Game for the third time in four years.

A ball can both be poorly thrown, and dropped; Welker is a good example of it. He had the ball hit him in the hands, but it would have been an outstanding catch if he had come down with it.
With Ronnie Harmon, the ball bounced off his hands; Harmon later said he was worried about staying in bounds and that Kelly held the ball a tick too long. He might be right, it looks like if Harmon had held on to the ball, one foot may have been out of bounds (but he also likely would have tried harder to drag his 2nd foot if he had held on to the ball.)

Even Jackie Smith had to make a low sliding catch. Staubach afterwards took 50% of the blame. That's being a little generous, but he definitely took too much off the pass.
Last edited by conace21 on Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby JohnR » Mon Jun 29, 2020 4:36 pm

rhickok1109 wrote:One big trouble with tabulating dropped passes is that it's quite subjective. What one observer calls a drop might be called a poorly thrown pass by another observer.

For example, I don't consider consider Wes Welker's Super Bowl "drop" to be a drop at all. The ball was thrown high and to the wrong side and Welker had to make a twisting leap in his attempt to catch it.


Yes, while he got both hands on it it seems a little cruel to label it a drop as the ball could have been thrown better. Drops should be relatively easy catches flubbed with little or no interference from defenders.
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Re: Dropped Passes

Postby Andy Piascik » Mon Jun 29, 2020 5:15 pm

Regarding Renfro's drop in the 1961 season finale versus the Giants, the Browns had been eliminated the week before so the play did not impact their postseason hopes. However, if Cleveland had won that game, Philadelphia would have tied New York and the two would have played in a playoff the following week.
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