The game is football is defined by many things, but nothing defines football more than big plays. Whether it is a touchdown in a huge situation or a turnover at the goal line, individual moments create the seismic shifts that we see determine the results of games every Sunday.
One tool that is especially helpful when it comes to gauging the impact of individual plays is Earned Points Added, or EPA. Inside The Pylon does a great job of explaining this, but essentially this way of looking at plays shows how much value a play has depending on the specific context of the play in question. In short, it takes consideration into down and distance and field position. So for example, this would show a 10-yard pass on third-and-5 is more impactful than a 10-yard pass on third-and-15, even if the quarterback and receiver each get 10 yards either way.
So with this in mind, I am going to use play data from Pro Football Reference every week to look at the five most impactful plays from the Jaguars' previous game in terms of EPA.
To arrive at the figure, I subtracted the actual earned points from projected earned points before each play, using PFR data. The plays with the largest difference were the most impactful plays. I ranked them on a 0 scale, which means that the further away from 0 a play is, the more impactful it is. A negative value simply means it is a bad play from the offense, so consider it a valuable play for the defense.
With that said, here are the five most impactful plays from the Jacksonville Jaguars 34-16 loss to the Detroit Lions in Week 6.
Play No. 1: Trey Flowers forces a Gardner Minshew fumble
Considering this play started at the Lions' 45-yard line with 0:35 left in the first half, Trey Flowers' strip-sack of Gardner Minshew landing at No. 1 in total EPA this week is far from surprising. The Jaguars had a legit chance to put some points up before halftime and were only on second-and-10. Instead, Flowers beat Cam Robinson around the corner and stole the ball from Minshew, taking away potential points from the Jaguars. This play finished with an EPA of -4.76, according to Pro Football Reference.
Play No. 2: Gardner Minshew finds Keelan Cole for 51 yards
The biggest play of the day for the Jaguars and the play that put Keelan Cole over 100 yards for the day, the No. 2 play in terms of EPA was a result of Gardner Minshew finding Cole downfield for a 51-yard gain. This play going for such a massive gain obviously helps boost its 4.4 EPA, but the fact the play was on a third-and-7 from Jacksonville's own 29 and helped flip field position likely plays an even bigger role. This was a terrific play by Cole, though it seemed during the route like he wanted Minshew to throw it sooner and closer toward the right sideline.
Play No. 3: Kenny Golladay gets Detroit near Jacksonville's goal line
One of the biggest backbreaking plays the Jaguars' defense allowed on Sunday, this play gets a bump in EPA since it helped put Detroit on the Jaguars' 6-yard line. The 46-yard gain was a gimmie play since Kamalei Correa was offsides, but the Lions took advantage of the free play and sent a shot downfield against Sidney Jones and each of Jacksonville's safety. Golladay schooled each defensive back with the ball in the air, resulting in a play that recorded an EPA of 3.84.
Play No. 4: Kenny Golladay turns third-and-long into a giant gain
Another big Kenny Golladay play, this time the massive gain came on third-and-long. It was just that kind of day for the Jaguars' defense, with Golladay more or less doing whatever he wanted against Jacksonville's secondary. This play was actually good coverage by Jones downfield but it simply didn't matter as Golladay trapped the tight-window pass to his frame. This 36-yard gain on third-and-12 not only served as a big conversion but also helped the Lions move the ball into Jacksonville territory, earning an EPA of 3.74.
Play No. 5: Joe Schobert intercepts Matthew Stafford to start second half
Only the second play on here that was a positive play for the Jaguars, the No. 5 most impactful play of Sunday's loss was middle linebacker Joe Schobert creating his first turnover as a member of the Jaguars defense. On the first third down of the second half, Schobert and Jabaal Sheard deflected a Matthew Stafford pass at the line of scrimmage, resulting in Schobert catching the ball for an interception. The play, which gave the Jaguars the ball at Detroit's 20-yard line, earned an EPA of -3.62 and should have helped set up a Jaguars score, though the Jaguars would turn it over on downs four plays later.