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Lets Go Broncos!



Since I'm sure everybody is watching the Denver Broncos vs. New England Patriots game right now (its currently halftime), I'm sure many of you are thinking how could the Patriots miss an extra point. Well, if you are curious, visit my previous blog on field goal kicking. More importantly, I'm sure some of you are like me, nervous due to Peyton Manning's lack of throwing ability in his old age. After his neck surgery, and since he is approaching 40, his arm strength is decreasing, requiring him to throw the ball with more arc and earlier. This brings up some interesting physics as Peyton needs to alter the projectile motion of the football to suit his lack of arm strength. 

On a short route, a normal quarterback can zip the ball to the receiver with a high velocity, decreasing the time the ball is in the air, the height that the ball must reach and how far the quarterback must "lead" the receiver. When the ball is thrown with a higher velocity, it does not need to be thrown with as much arc to reach its desired target as it can be in the air a lower amount of time and still reach the target since there is no acceleration in the x plane. However, Peyton Manning introduces numerous possibilities of error since he needs to put more arc on the ball. Since he is releasing the ball with a lower velocity, he needs to increase the time the ball is in the air, which means throwing the ball sooner than the receiver is ready. While this could turn out very well if timed perfectly, a mistake by the quarterback or receiver could leave a floating pass available for the defense to make a play and intercept the ball. Another problem is that when trying to arc the ball more in order to compensate for a lack of velocity, Peyton needs to calculate the velocity and angle in order for the ball to reach the receiver at the right height. This is difficult when you have 300 pound lineman running at you, which is why Peyton is under-throwing some receivers while overthrowing others.

One advantage of a softer pass is that it is often easier to catch. Since the mass of a football is constant, the momentum of the football is proportional to the velocity. Therefore, a higher velocity football has more momentum, which means that a receiver must try harder to catch the football as the force required to bring that momentum to zero is inversely proportional to time of the force applied. This means that a player must catch the ball "like an egg", or simply have strong enough hands to withstand the large impact force. 

The second half is about to start, lets hope Denver pulls out the dub!



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