Two weeks ago I pointed out that the Washington Redskins' negative turnover differential was mostly caused by extremely poor luck at recovering fumbles. At that point the team had recovered just 3 of 18 fumbles on offense and defense, and I expected those numbers to improve significantly.
Instead, over the past two weeks (including a 52-17 blow-out victory at San Francisco and a 36-0 whipping by the New York Giants) their recovery rate has worsened to 4 of 26 (15%). Since both teams have an even chance of recovering any given fumble, that's like flipping a coin 26 times and getting only four heads. The chances of this happening are just 1 in 3,333--about the same as the chances of tossing 12 heads or tails in a row! Ai-yi-yi!
The NFC East-leading Giants, on the other hand, lead the NFL with a fumble recovery rate of 71%. The second place Dallas Cowoys are also well ahead of the curve with a recovery rate of 62%, while the Philadelphia Eagles are dead average at exactly 50%.
So how much difference did fumbles make last Sunday? The Redskins fumbled three times, and New York recovered inside Washington's 30-yard line each time, leading directly to 17 points. The Giants fumbled twice (inside Washington's 10 and on their own 42) and recovered both times, allowing them to kick a field goal in the first instance and preventing a probable Washington field goal in the second. That's a 23-point swing in a 36-point Giants' victory--not inconsequential by any means. Yet New York so thoroughly dominated Washington on Sunday they'd almost certainly have won even without the fumble advantage.
Current Washington Post Redskins stories: Arrington Working. Patten Frustrated. Redskins Right Side Wrong. Defensive Line Weakened. Arrington May Start.