With all the talk about who will be the best option at QB for the Vikings this year and how team stats from last year compare to each other, I wondered if I could find stats showing the number of “true” three-and-outs given up by offenses and forced by defenses.
First, what is a “true” three-and out? I define this as when the offense takes the field and four plays later they punt. These stats should not include turnovers, penalties, or safeties, as these are tracked separately. A three-and out can be one of the most deflating moments in a game, not only to the team, but also to the crowd. There is no worse feeling than to watch the defense make a great stance only to have the offense come on the field and go three-and-out.
I searched, but could not find anyplace that tracked three-and-outs, so I decided to compile a few teams on my own. Of course the Vikings were my first choice. Then I thought I should choose the Super Bowl participants and a couple of the worst teams for comparison. I also chose the two best offenses. Surprisingly, neither made it to the “big show”. Finally, I chose the Jets for obvious reasons.
So without further adieu, here are the stats for “true” three and outs including how the offenses and defenses ranked at the end of the year in total yards.
Offense 3 & Outs Rank Defense 3 & Outs Rank
Denver 26 2 Pittsburg 56 1
New Orleans 28 1 Minnesota 43 6
NY Jets 32 16 New Orleans 40 23
Arizona 34 4 Oakland 37 27
Minnesota 38 17 Arizona 35 19
Pittsburg 40 22 Detroit 33 32
Oakland 55 29 NY Jets 32 16
Detroit 55 30 Denver 30 29
Take these stats for what they are, but it does seem interesting, although maybe not surprising that the best teams rank highest in three-and-outs. I think it’s also plain to see why the Steelers won the Super Bowl. Wow, 56 times the defense forced a three-and out. That averages out to 3.5 per game. Pretty impressive.