# What does "completed x-for-y passes" mean?

What does it mean to say that a quarterback completed x-for-y passes? That is different than the average yards per rush or yards per completion, right?

Background:

One article states "During the game [Tebow] threw for 316 yards, [Tebow] yards per completion were 31.6, [Tebow] yards per rush were 3.16".

A second article, states that Tim "Tebow's stats for the first three quarters. He completed [...] 3-for-16 passes".

A third article states "Ben Roethlisberger's second-quarter interception, which led to a Matt Prater field goal and a 17-6 Broncos lead, came on third-and-16."

What I ultimately want to know is whether the statistic "3-for-16 passes" of the second article and/or the statistic "third-and-16." are included in the statistics of the first article. Are those different statistics (that just look so similar) or is there an overlap of information? With "overlap of information", I mean that one statistic can be unambiguously calculated from the other.

Going by what ATCOlogy wrote, I would have to calculate 316 / 16 = 19.75, which would not match up with the "yards per completion were 31.6". However, the first articles says "3-for-16" for the first three quarters, so maybe "316" and "31.6" were for the whole game and my calculation is off.

• Could you give an example of where you have seen this specific phrasing "x-for-y passes" used? The normal phrases would be "x of y passes" or "x passes for y yards". Nov 25, 2022 at 12:52
• @PhilipKendall: Of course. In bleacherreport.com/articles/…, it is written that Tim "Tebow's stats for the first three quarters. He completed [...] 3-for-16 passes". In www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/entertainment/2018/january/… it is written "During the game [Tebow] threw for 316 yards, [Tebow] yards per completion were 31.6, [Tebow] yards per rush were 3.16". Nov 25, 2022 at 12:59
• What I ultimately want to know is whether the statistic of the first article is included in the statistics of the second article. Going by what @ATCOlogy wrote, I would have to calculate 316 / 16 = 19.75, which would not match up with the "yards per completion were 31.6". However, the first articles says "3-for-16" for the first three quarters, so maybe "316" and "31.6" were for the whole game and my calculation is off. Nov 25, 2022 at 13:02
• Finally, espn.com/nfl/story/_/page/10spot-divisional/… writes "Ben Roethlisberger's second-quarter interception, which led to a Matt Prater field goal and a 17-6 Broncos lead, came on third-and-16." is "third-and-16." here another, different statistic or is this included in one of the above statistics. Nov 25, 2022 at 13:05
• Please edit all this into your question; at the moment, you're getting contradictory answers because it's not entirely clear what you're asking. Nov 25, 2022 at 13:05

It indicated the number of passes completed and the total pass yards. For example: QB completed 20 passed for 300 yards. So in a sense it's a more explicit way of describing the yards per completion.

You may also hear a more verbose version like this, completed 20 of 30, for 300 yards. In this case the pass attempts are also included.

• I read about a game in an article that a QB "completed 1-for-23 passes in the first three quarters" and in a different article about the same game that the QB had an "average of 12.3 yards per completion and average of 1.23 yards per rush". Are those three different statistics (that just look coincidentally so similar) or is there an overlap of information? With "overlap of information", I mean that one statistic can be unambiguously calculated from the other. Nov 25, 2022 at 9:59

Using the quarterback stats from this game as an example, let's break this down.

Josh Allen, the Bills QB, went 24 for 42 in this game. That means he threw 42 passes, and 24 of those passes were completed (that is, caught by receivers on his own team). He threw for 253 passing yards, and since we know he completed 24 passes, his yards per completion is 253 divided by 24, or about 10.54 yards per completion. Yards per rush is unrelated to passing, but we can calculate that too: Allen attempted 10 carries, and gained a total of 78 rushing yards doing so. 78 divided by 10 is 7.8 yards per rush.

Let's check the stats for Jared Goff, the Lions QB. He threw 37 passes, completed 23 of them (23 for 37), accumulating 240 passing yards, or about 10.43 yards per completion. Goff didn't attempt any carries, so we can't calculate yards per rush for him.

This use of "x-for-y" is common in several American sports (a baseball hitter who gets 1 hit in 4 at-bats goes 1-for-4, a basketball player who hits 8 shots out of 11 tries went 8-for-11, etc.)

Regarding the article excerpts:

• The first article refers to a statistical coincidence (it's even in the title of the article!) that occurred with Tim Tebow. Tebow was a famously devout Christian, and John 3:16 is a significant Bible verse. According to the article, several of his stats and stats about a specific game generally ended up being 316, 3.16, 31.6, or something similar. The point of the story is that most of those stats are unrelated to each other; none of them can be directly calculated from another. (Pass yards and yards per completion ARE related but you can't calculate yards per completion without also knowing the number of completions.)

• The second article is using my above definition of 3 for 16: 3 completions out of 16 attempts. (This is, for what it's worth, a subpar performance for a quarterback in most circumstances.)

• The third article is referring to down and distance. In American football, teams have four chances ("downs") to gain ten yards from where they started. 3rd and 16 means a team is on its third of four chances, and need to gain 16 yards to reset those chances. It's not related to passing statistics.

• That sounds very different than what @alamoot wrote, namely " completed x passed for y yards", while you say "completed x passes out of y pass attempts". So who is right? Or what do I misunderstand? Nov 25, 2022 at 12:37
• American sports, at least, usually use this sense for "x-for-y". Cricket has a usage more similar to alamoot's suggestion, where a bowler who gave up 50 runs and recorded five outs "bowled 5 for 50". Nov 25, 2022 at 12:51