The Extra Point How NFL Stadiums Factor in Dropped Passes

How NFL Stadiums Factor in Dropped Passes

November 29, 2023

After Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling dropped a possible game-changing touchdown pass at home against the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, Miami Dolphins wide receiver (and ex-Chief) Tyreek Hill tweeted the following:

Hill knows about catching balls in Kansas City as well as anyone, as he has the second-most targets at Arrowhead Stadium from 2016 to present (342 total). 

So, does he have a point about the lights?

Using PFF data, we looked at the rates of dropped passes in each team’s home stadium during Week 12 games from 2016-23, filtering for current stadiums only and splitting by start time to account for potential differences during the day and night hours.

In the chart below, each dot represents a drop rate — the percent of catchable balls that are labeled as drops — using stadium/start times with at least 150 catchable pass attempts since 2016. The dotted vertical line in the middle reflects the league average drop rate of 6.7%.

Kansas City’s home stadium (currently GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium) is the only one (out of 30) that boasts a statistically higher drop rate at night than during other game times. The 10.3% of catchable passes dropped in Kansas City at night is the highest of any stadium/start time combination. And the drop rates in Kansas City at 1 p.m. (6.5%) and 4 p.m. (6.7%) are in line with the league average.

The high drop rate at Arrowhead is also exacerbated for Hill, who dropped 13 of 89 (14.6%) catchable balls at night, far above his rates at 1 p.m. (1.7%) and 4 p.m. (4.1%). Away from Kansas City, Hill has only dropped four of 102 catchable balls at night (3.9%). 

Only one other stadium showed a significantly different drop rate by start time. Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium had a significantly lower drop rate at night (4.5%, compared to 7.1% at 1 p.m. and 9.3% at 4 p.m.). 

As an additional comparison, the 10 stadiums with the highest drop rates are all outdoors, and nine of the 10 with the lowest drop rates are domes or warm-weather teams, excluding Cincinnati. What’s more, the drop rate at the outdoor MetLife Stadium in New Jersey (8.1%) is roughly 1.8 times higher than Minnesota’s domed U.S. Bank Stadium (4.6%).

Contributed by: Tom Bliss and Michael Lopez