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Stanford in the NFL: Late-game rally not enough for Luck, Colts

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Despite a poor start and reports of a previously undisclosed rib injury, quarterback Andrew Luck ’12 led the Indianapolis Colts in a thrilling fourth-quarter rally against the Carolina Panthers, but the team fell just short in double overtime. Luck now has three straight losses for the first time in his career.

Across the rest of the league, former Stanford players put up limited numbers on offense, but several defensive players had solid performances, including Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ’10 and Dolphins safety Michael Thomas ’12.

The heavy Carolina rain made for a wet ball and a game of turnovers when the Colts and undefeated Panthers faced off on Monday Night Football. Luck struggled in the first three quarters, completing only 5 passes for 40 yards, and appeared to be on pace for a career-worst offensive performance.

A few minutes into the final quarter, when the Panthers were up 17-6, Carolina quickly capitalized on Luck’s second interception of the night, scoring a touchdown just three plays later. However, a missed extra point would give the Colts hope, keeping it a three-possession game.

On the next drive, Luck looked like a new man, completing six of seven passes for a touchdown to bring the score within 10. A key defensive stop gave the Colts the ball back with 4:41 left in regulation. Luck remained cool under pressure, capping off an eight-play drive with an eight-yard touchdown pass to tight end Coby Fleener ’12. Fleener would end the game with 7 passes for 43 yards on the night.  

The Panthers went three-and-out on their next drive, thanks in part to a first-down stop by defensive tackle Henry Anderson ’15, who registered 3 combined tackles in the game. On the next drive, a crucial 12-yard reception by Colts wide receiver Griff Whalen ’12 on 4th-and-10 gave the Colts a final chance to score, and another first down by Whalen put them in field goal range. Luck led the Colts to the six-yard line but they could not capitalize, settling for a 24-yard field goal to send the game to overtime.

In overtime, the teams traded field goals, leading to a first-score-wins situation. Carolina picked off a Luck pass intended for Fleener at the Indianapolis 38 and sealed the win with a field goal three plays later.

Colts rookie defensive tackle David Parry ’15 registered 3 tackles, while Whalen finished the night with 5 receptions for 48 yards, rounding out a hot-and-cold performance from the Colts.

***

On Sunday, perennial defensive threat Richard Sherman made his presence felt against the Dallas Cowboys. The Seattle cornerback covered fellow All-Pro Dez Bryant, limiting him to 2 catches for 12 yards — the worst offensive performance Bryant has had since 2013. While Dallas’ passing attack was limited by the performance of backup quarterback Matt Cassel (97 yards on the night), Sherman played a solid game, registering a tackle for loss and 4 passes defended, the most of any cornerback in Week 8.

On the other side of the ball, Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin ’10 saw 6 targets for 3 receptions and 35 yards in the Seahawks’ 13-12 victory.

When the Patriots came to Miami Thursday night, safety Michael Thomas held his own, recording 6 combined tackles and a stuff for a loss of a yard. However, the Dolphins defense as a whole was unable to withstand the Patriots’ high-powered offense, and New England came away with a 36-7 victory. Patriots rookie defensive back Jordan Richards ’15 also tallied 2 combined tackles.

Cleveland Browns cornerback Johnson Bademosi ’12 stepped up, filling in for injured teammates and notching 6 combined tackles and recovering a fumble in the Browns’ 34-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. Cardinals defensive end Josh Mauro ’14 had 2 tackles of his own, marking his second-best game this season.

Next week, Luck and the Colts will seek to iron out their consistency issues in a matchup with the undefeated Denver Broncos. The status of Green Bay rookie receiver Ty Montgomery ’15 remains in question as he attempts to return from a Week 6 ankle sprain.

 

Contact Olivia Hummer at ohummer ‘at’ stanford.edu.

Olivia Hummer '17 is a managing editor of The Daily's sports section and writes about volleyball, football and baseball. When she's not filling in as an emergency copy editor, she can be found curled up in a ball bemoaning the misfortunes of her beloved Seattle Mariners or cursing the misuse of the Stanford Athletics logo. Olivia is a senior majoring in history from Covina, California, and can be reached at ohummer 'at' stanford.edu.