Gurley Outruns Titans!

The Los Angeles Rams edged the Tennessee Titans today, 27-23.  The Rams were helped in their efforts by an incredible run by Todd Gurley (#30) that took place with less than five minutes to go in the first half.  The Rams faced 2nd and 11 from their own 20-yard line.  Quarterback Jared Goff (#16) — no relation! –was in the shotgun (click on image for a larger view).

You can see Gurley standing to the right of Goff.  I’ve also circled Johnathan Cyprien (#37), the strong safety for the Titans.  Cyprien was blitzing.  The screen capture below shows Cyprien’s view of Goff before the play started (click on image for a larger view).

After Goff took the snap, he backpedaled to the Rams’ 10-yard line before throwing a screen pass toward Gurley.  But Gurley was lucky to even receive the ball because Cyprien almost tipped Goff’s pass.  Check out the screen capture below (click on image for a larger view).

I’ve cropped the original screen capture and blown up the image, which is why it’s a little grainy.  Using a standard length measurement associated with Goff’s height, I estimated that Cyprien’s fingers missed the football by less than four inches.  Football really is a game of inches!

Gurley caught Goff’s screen pass at the Rams’ 15-yard line, which was 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage (click on image for a larger view).

Notice that Gurley is turning clockwise (as seen from above) in preparation for his run.  What got Gurley to the end zone 10.5 seconds later wasn’t just the blockers in front of him.  The Rams benefited from Gurley’s amazing speed.  Gurley simply outran all the Titans!  Not long after crossing midfield, Gurley hit a maximum speed of almost 22 mph (click on image for a larger view).

Look at those Tennessee defenders trying to catch Gurley!  To put his 22-mph speed into perspective, consider Usain Bolt.  At the peak of his sprinting powers, Bolt exceeded 27 mph.  But he wasn’t wearing pads and a helmet that total almost 20 pounds!

Check out Gurley scoring below (click on image for a larger view).

Fast-twitching muscles and blinding speed on the part of Todd Gurley allowed Jared Goff to throw a football 5 yards and get credited for an 80-yard touchdown pass.  How great is that?

I tracked where Gurley was as he passed each yard line.  I then determined his velocity component in the direction perpendicular to the yard lines.  The plot below shows Gurley’s run just after he caught the ball and got going (click on image for a larger view).

Gurley ran most of those 85 yards along the left hash marks.  Just before reaching the Titans’ 15-yard line, he ran toward his right to avoid tacklers.  His speed dropped as he neared the goal line, but not quite as much as the above graph indicates.  By running toward his right, Gurley added to his velocity a component parallel to the yard lines.

Chuck Nice of Playing with Science joined me on TuneIn‘s No Huddle to chat about Gurley’s magnificent run.  Click here for our segment.

I am Professor of Physics at Lynchburg College and author of Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports.

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