Patriots Football Triangle

My husband knows I love finding math in everyday life. Last night we hung out with some of his college friends and their wives, which ended up becoming two gender-segregated gatherings in front of the playoff games on the tv and in the kitchen. When we were heading home from a friend’s house last night, he shared with me that the guys’ conversation ended up bringing right triangles into football. I want to give this problem to my students.

The guys were reminiscing about a 2005 AFC divisional game when Champ Bailey intercepted Tom Brady in the end zone and began running the ball back down the sideline. The announcer excitedly counts down how far Champ Bailey makes it (“30! 25! 15”) until Ben Watson comes flying in and knocks Champ Bailey out at the 1-yard line.

In the post-game analysis, Tedy Bruschi comments “Where did he come from? We didn’t know until replays. We saw Ben was on the other side of the field, so he basically had to run 120 yards or longer than that to get that.” They thought this number didn’t make sense, so they got to calculating.

Screen Shot 2015-01-11 at 7.03.27 PM

Given that the dimensions of a football field are 160 yards long (with 10 yard end zones) x 53 1/3 yards wide plus the screenshot above, how far did Ben Watson actually run? 

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