17 December 2017

A Bullet from Keenum to Diggs!

The Minnesota Vikings obliterated the hapless Cincinnati Bengals today, 34-7.  With less than seven minutes to go in the second quarter, Case Keenum (#7) fired a bullet to Stefon Diggs (#14) that pushed the Vikings lead to 23-0, but Diggs took a couple mighty hits after scoring.  Check out the Vikings' shotgun formation on 2nd and 16 from the Bengals' 20-yard line (click on image for a larger view).
Note Cincinnati cornerback Tony McRae (#29) covering Diggs.  Another look at the formation shows the one Bengal on defense that you can't see in the above screen capture.  Check out the view from behind Keenum (click on image for a larger view).
Standing just inside the Bengals' 5-yard line is free safety Clayton Fejedelem (#42).  McRae and Fejedelem were about to become the bread in a Stefon Diggs sandwich!

Keenum took 2.24 s from the snap to throw his pass.  The Bengals rushed four, but the Vikings had five offensive lineman in pass protection.  Keenum threw the ball from the Bengals' 27-yard line while inside a perfect pocket (click on image for a larger view).
That's some great blocking for Keenum!  Diggs was running a post route and Keenum fired the ball at 50.1 mph at 15.8 degrees above the horizontal.  The ball reached Diggs 1.30 s later at 46.4 mph.  Air drag was about 17% of the ball's weight just after Keenum released the ball.  The plot below shows the trajectory of Keenum's pass (click on image for a larger view).
Diggs was running about 16 mph when he caught the ball at the goal line (click on image for a larger view).
But notice what was about to happen to Diggs.  Immediately after crossing the goal line, Diggs was met on his left by Fejedelem and on his right by McRae.  The two Bengals crunched Diggs a couple yards into the end zone.  Fejedelem hit Diggs with an average force in excess of 500 pounds, and that was very quickly followed by a hit from McRae with a similar force.  Look at the start of the hits (click on image for a larger view).
From another view, you can see what that 500-pound hit by Fejedelem looked like (click on image for a larger view).
Now look at the next screen capture as McRae gets his hit on Diggs (click on image for a larger view).
What's incredibly lucky for Diggs is that he was ever-so-slightly ahead of the two Bengals' defenders.  The last image I'll show you of the hits demonstrates that fact, but still makes it clear that football collisions are violent (click on image for a larger view).
Diggs surely thought a little pain was worth the score!  Had he not been a tiny bit ahead of his tacklers, he might have felt forces greater than 1000 pounds during a very short time interval.  Don't forget Newton's third law though, though.  The two players who tackled Diggs felt equal-magnitude forces from Diggs.

After Diggs got up from the two big hits he took, he celebrated by going to the back of the end zone and fired the ball into the purple padding behind the end zone.  He actually threw the ball at about 41 mph, which wasn't that much slower than the pass he had just caught from Keenum!  Check out Diggs throwing the ball (click on image for a larger view).
Gary O'Reilly of Playing with Science joined me on TuneIn's No Huddle to discuss the play.  As always, Gary did a great job setting the play up before I threw some physics into the discussion.  Gary noted that if Diggs doesn't spike the ball when he scores, watch out for his throw!  Click here for our segment.

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