NFL notes: Sherman, Baldwin propel Seahawks comeback victory
As a Stanford graduate, it should perhaps come as no surprise that the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman ’10 likes to obsessively study his opponents’ tendencies prior to games.
With less than three minutes left in a road game against the Houston Texans, Sherman’s diligence paid off in a big way as he intercepted Texans’ quarterback Matt Schaub and returned the pick 58 yards for a touchdown (with one shoe, no less), capping a 14-point Seahawks comeback in the fourth quarter. Seattle would go on to win the game 23-20 in overtime and keep its undefeated season alive.
“I had picked the same play against our scout team on Friday. We knew it was coming….It’s a high-risk, high-reward play,” Sherman said in his press conference following the game. “You have to jump in, and you might get beat over the top for a 20- or 30-yard gain if he gets the ball down there. But if you make the play, you might get a pick-six and change the game for your team.”
While Sherman’s pick-six forced the game into overtime, wide receiver Doug Baldwin ’10 was involved in the decisive play of the overtime period. After catching a 7-yard pass from quarterback Russell Wilson, Baldwin was lifted and then thrown to the ground by Texans cornerback Kareem Jackson, resulting in a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty. That play put Seattle into field-goal range, eventually leading to kicker Steven Haushcka’s game-winning field goal. Baldwin finished with 39 yards receiving on three catches.
Sunday was also an encouraging day for three up-and-coming former Stanford tight ends.
Against Jacksonville, the Colts’ Coby Fleener ’11 caught five passes for 77 yards (both season highs). Fleener also caught a 31-yard touchdown pass from Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck ’11, who shook off a slow start to finish 22-for-36 with two touchdowns and an interception in a 37-3 blowout victory over the Jaguars.
In a 52-20 loss to the Broncos, Philadelphia Eagles rookie Zach Ertz ’13 reeled in a 38-yard reception, the longest of his young career, from quarterback Michael Vick. Although he struggled with an uncharacteristic number of drops during the preseason, Ertz now seems to be steadily establishing himself within Chip Kelly’s offense.
Like his former partner in crime Ertz, Levine Toilolo ’13 of the Atlanta Falcons saw more action on offense in Atlanta’s 30-23 loss to New England. Toilolo also registered his third career reception as he looks to grab the torch from future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez, who plans to retire at the end of the season.
Sunday was also a positive day for former Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh who bounced back after losing consecutive games for the first time in his NFL coaching career to lead his San Francisco 49ers to a dominant 35-11 victory over the St. Louis Rams. Following a bye this week, the 49ers will face another major test when they host the Texans on Oct. 6.
Contact Vihan Lakshman at vihan’at’stanford.edu.
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