Week 11 in the NFL saw pivotal changes in the playoff race for many teams with Stanford Cardinal ties. In Seattle, the Seahawks moved within one game of the last wild card spot, and in Atlanta, the Colts maintained their slim lead in the AFC South.
As his Seahawks took the field Sunday afternoon, Richard Sherman ’11 had yet another lockdown performance at cornerback, recording 4 tackles and allowing the fewest yards after catch of any Seahawk corner. The two-time pro bowler and Madden cover star has not intercepted a pass this season, but is targeted so infrequently by opposing quarterbacks that opportunities are few and far between.
On the offensive side, wide receiver Doug Baldwin ’10 recorded 6 catches for 60 yards. He picked up a knock to his ankle at the end of the game, but head coach Pete Carroll is confident he will be in the lineup next week against the Steelers. For San Francisco, rookie linebacker Shayne Skov ‘14 saw limited playing time and did not add any notable stats to his season tally. With the crucial win, Seattle is just one game behind the Falcons for the last wild card. However, due to Arizona’s comeback win on Monday night, it is unlikely the Seahawks can still win the division.
Four fellow Cardinal alumni helped Seattle’s playoff chances when the Colts defeated the Falcons at home. Starting quarterback Andrew Luck ’12 was out again with an abdominal injury, but is expected to return in mid-December. Tight end Colby Fleener ’12 recorded 3 receptions for 45 yards, and wide receiver Griff Whalen ’11 had 2 catches for 20 yards. On the defensive side, Henry Anderson ’15 and David Parry ’15 both saw limited playing time.
Atlanta remained ahead the entire game, until the fourth quarter when Indianapolis’s potent passing offense came alive. Under center, Matt Hasselbeck, replacing the 2012 Stanford Heisman runner-up Luck, helped guide passes to Fleener and Whalen in addition to other familiar targets. The Colts outscored their opponents 10-0 in the fourth quarter, winning by a final score of 24-21. Indianapolis looks to continue to tread water to maintain its division lead next week against the Buccaneers until Luck returns before the holidays.
In other games the injuries mounted as Eagles tight end Zach Ertz ’13 is doubtful for next week after suffering a concussion. He had 2 receptions for 12 yards before being removed. The Eagles play on Thanksgiving at Detroit, and the short time to prepare before next week’s game won’t help the tight end’s chances of getting back on the field.
Ty Montgomery ’15 did not play or practice at all this week for the Packers after an ankle injury earlier this month. Montgomery had fueled the Packers’ unblemished start, but the team has since lost three of its past four games since his injury. He looks to get healthy for next week’s divisional showdown with Chicago.
Next week will provide even more clarity in the divisional races as several top teams play each other. Starting on Thanksgiving, we will begin to see who the contenders are, and who the pretenders are.
Contact Michael Spelfogel at mspel ‘at’ stanford.edu.