Behind the Mapping of NFL Passing Touchdowns

Behind the Mapping of NFL Passing Touchdowns

Everyone wants more football, and thankfully, the NFL is back. Fanatics, in partnership with the NFL, has decided to give fans a deeper look at the data behind passing touchdowns. Instead of only relying on official stats, though, our interactive plots the locations from which each quarterback threw the ball and where the receiver caught it.

For the 2017-18 regular season, we will record every touchdown pass thrown for all 32 teams for every game and compile them into a searchable interactive.

Users can also search the data by the regular season week, game, team name, the position of the receiver or passer, and player name. The interactive will reveal where the pass or passes were thrown, where they were received, the yards traveled, player rankings, and more. For additional information, check out our behind-the-scenes look at the interactive below.

How We Made the Passing Touchdown Interactive


The interactive is nothing less than a labor of love. To compile information, researchers will review every 2017 touchdown pass via footage from NFL Game Pass. Using a searchable and to-scale NFL field image – in which a 12-by-12 pixel cell corresponds to a 4-by-4-foot square of the actual gridiron – the researchers will plot the start position of a given pass as well as the position of the completing receiver.

The JavaScript library, D3, enabled developers to map the coordinates of a pass from start to reception. Along with the stats above, they recorded distance from the reception point to the goal line. They further sorted the information by game, team, passer, and receiver, along with the passers’ and receivers’ rankings. This process will be repeated for every 2017 touchdown pass on file with NFL Game Pass.

Take Analysis to the Next Level

The result is a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to see either individual or group pass touchdowns based on easy-to-enter criteria.

With this tool, it’s easy to relive the best passing drives of this season and visually interpret the passing philosophies and successes of each NFL team. Using Fanatics’ interactive, everyone can be a color commentator, offering insightful analysis of the league’s aerial game. Try it for yourself here.



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