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Stanford in the NFL: Baldwin makes NFL history as Seahawks clinch playoff spot

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Although several former Stanford football players were sidelined with injuries, alumni in the NFL made a big impact overall in Week 16. With playoff berths on the line, players rose to the challenge, breaking NFL records and putting up season- and career-best numbers on both sides of the ball.

BERKELEY, CA - NOVEMBER 20, 2010: Richard Sherman intercepts a Cal pass during Stanford's 48-14 win over the University of California, Berkeley, at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, California.
Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman ’10 (above) helped the Seahawks into the playoffs on Sunday, marking 2 combined tackles, a pass defended and a stuff against the Browns. He was also selected this past week for the 2016 Pro Bowl (BOB DREBIN/stanfordphoto.com).

Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin ’11 is on fire, making 4 catches for 45 yards and 2 touchdowns on Sunday. He has established himself as one of Russell Wilson’s favorite scoring targets, scoring 10 touchdowns in the last four games alone. Baldwin now joins Jerry Rice as the only other wide receiver to put up 10 touchdown passes in a four-game span, while no other quarterback-receiver duo in NFL history has connected for as many touchdowns over four games as Wilson and Baldwin have.

Additionally, with 13 touchdowns, he is now tied for the franchise record for most touchdown receptions in a single season. In light of his recent play, expect Baldwin to break the record next week.

Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman ’10 topped off his invitation to the Pro Bowl this weekend by registering 2 combined tackles, a stuff and a pass defended in Sunday’s matchup. After a 4-5 start to the season, the Seahawks have made a comeback, winning their last five games and clinching a playoff berth with a 30-13 win over the Browns. Pittsburgh Steelers offensive guard David DeCastro ’12 will be joining Sherman in January’s Pro Bowl.

Cornerback Johnson Bademosi ’12 saw action for the Browns, after being designated “probable” on the injury report with an elbow problem. He recorded two combined tackles.

Although the Dolphins lost to the San Diego Chargers 30-14 and have been eliminated from the playoff chase, Miami safety Michael Thomas ’12 led the team with a career-high 14 combined tackles (13 solo), including a tackle for loss. Thomas has seen more action this season and has put up strong numbers despite being part of a struggling Miami secondary.

Two former Cardinal set personal bests in Sunday night’s faceoff between the Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles. While the Cardinals won 40-17, Eagles tight end Zach Ertz ’13 registered a season-best 78 yards on 8 catches, putting up his second touchdown of the season in the process.

On the other side of the ball, defensive end Josh Mauro ’14 made a career-high 4 tackles and forced a fumble in the third quarter. The ensuing Cardinals touchdown gave Arizona a 20-point lead, effectively putting victory out of reach for the struggling Eagles. This was Mauro’s second straight game with a forced fumble.

Arizona is guaranteed a playoff spot as the clear winner of the NFC West. The Eagles remain in the hunt, trailing the division-leading Washington Redskins by a single game. The Eagles and Redskins will face off on Saturday night.

In Foxborough, Patriots rookie defensive back Jordan Richards ’15 also put up career numbers with 3 combined tackles and 1 pass defended in New England’s 33-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans.

With quarterback Andrew Luck ’12 still out with abdominal injuries, former Cardinal players on the Colts have floundered offensively. In Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Houston Texans, wide receiver Griff Whalen ’12 recorded 2 receptions for 9 yards, but a fourth-quarter fumble led to a Texans field goal, giving them a six-point lead with just under two minutes remaining in the game.

Colts defensive tackle David Parry ’15 registered 3 combined tackles, including one for a loss of 2 yards. Tight end Coby Fleener ’12 saw only 1 reception for 12 yards.

Luck’s return remains doubtful for Week 16. Backup quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has also sustained injuries in recent weeks, giving third-string QB Charlie Whitehurst some playing time. Should Whitehurst be unable to play for any reason, Whalen has been designated the “emergency” quarterback for the Colts. With this week’s loss, the Colts need to win out and receive some help from the Texans to have any chance to reach the playoffs.

As the regular season draws to a close, several teams with Stanford ties are in the race toward the postseason. The return timeline for most injured former Cardinal looks grim, with Luck week-to-week and Green Bay rookie receiver Ty Montgomery ’15 placed on the season-ending injured reserve after experiencing setbacks related to his Week 6 high-ankle sprain. For active alumni, Week 16 will prove a chance to make an impact as their teams fight to stay in the chase.

 

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.