A controversial lateral executed by the Seahawks during their Sunday night win against the Eagles had some looking to science for answers.
“As a matter of fact, I have already put in my calls to Neil deGrasse Tyson,” Pete Carroll told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Brock and Salk on Monday morning. “We’re talking physics now. I’m serious, I’m going to get an explanation about why that was a backwards lateral so that everybody understands. Because the ball was traveling at the speed that Russell was traveling.”
Turns out Carroll wasn’t joking.
FYI: The lateral that @DangeRussWilson threw to @MikeDavisRB in Sunday’s @Seahawks @Eagles game was a legit “Galilean Transformation”. In their reference frame, the ball went backwards. It’s not their fault they ran forward faster than the ball. pic.twitter.com/DHUKNtlcyj
— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) December 5, 2017
That’s right – famed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson responded to Carroll’s pleas via Twitter, labeling the play “a legit ‘Galilean Transformation.’”
Since Russell Wilson was past the line of scrimmage when he tossed the ball to running back Mike Davis, it would have been against NFL rules for him to throw a lateral pass that traveled forward. Wilson let go of the ball around the 47-yard line, and Davis caught it at about the 48. On the surface, it looks like an illegal forward lateral. Basically, the ball traveled forward relative to the field, but it traveled backward relative to the fast-moving players (Wilson and Davis).
The NFL rule book doesn’t mention Galilean transformations, and the direction of the ball relative to the field is what matters in this case. So it’s likely that the Seahawks got away with one.