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AFC notes: Handle the football with care

(Sept. 27, 2005) -- The world is guided by events in which people make the most of their opportunities. The NFL is no different.

In the past 10 seasons, every Super Bowl champion has placed within the league's top 10 teams in scoring points off of turnovers. Eight of those 10 scored more than 100 points off opponents' miscues.

A look at these 10 Super Bowl-winning teams and where they stood in points scored off of turnovers:

Season Team Points off turnovers League rank
2004 New England Patriots 130 2nd
2003 New England Patriots 109 T-6th
2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 123 T-1st
2001 New England Patriots 105 T-7th
2000 Baltimore Ravens 119 3rd
1999 St. Louis Rams 142 1st
1998 Denver Broncos 111 5th
1997 Denver Broncos 120 2nd
1996 Green Bay Packers 132 2nd
1995 Dallas Cowboys 95 T-9th

While stifling an opponents' possession, turnovers shift a game's momentum. Points scored on those opportunities can be the difference between a win and a loss.

Through three games, the Cincinnati Bengals (3-0) can already trace 50 of their AFC-high 88 points back to opponents' turnovers -- the greatest number of points off turnovers thus far in 2005. Cincinnati leads the NFL with 16 takeaways -- seven more than the next closest team.

"You have to make plays to overcome your turnovers," says Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. "It probably doesn't happen very often in the NFL, which is why turnover ratio seems to be so significant.

"When you're on the plus side, you're getting yourself off the field defensively, limiting your exposure to bad things happening to you. And you give your offense more opportunities to make bad things happen to the opposing team. You want to play defense on the sidelines. That's the best way to play defense."

Below is a 10-year view of teams' records within varying degrees of the giveaway/takeaway differential:

Season Minus-3 or worse Minus-2 Minus-1 Even Plus-1 Plus-2 Plus-3 or more
2004 4-61 8-44 29-57 53-53 57-29 44-8 61-4
2003 4-61 7-52 29-53 50-50 53-29 52-7 61-4
2002 4-57 12-60 22-57-1 43-43 57-22-1 60-12 57-4
2001 7-55 15-46 34-41 50-50 41-34 46-15 55-7
2000 9-62 6-50 26-59 36-36 59-26 50-6 62-9
1999 8-62 9-41 29-54 45-45 54-29 41-9 62-8
1998 7-53 11-40 26-57 46-46 57-26 40-11 53-7
1997 5-45 8-50-1 27-54-1 49-49 54-27-1 50-8-1 45-5
1996 4-53 8-48 28-52 47-47 52-28 48-8 53-4
1995 3-49 9-44 28-57 50-50 57-28 44-9 49-3
TOTALS 55-558 93-475-1 278-541-2 469-469 541-278-2 475-93-1 558-55
WIN PCT. .090 .164* .340 .500* .660 .836 .910

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