On a snowy Sunday across the country, the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers punched their tickets to Levi’s Stadium for Super Bowl 50. While prominent Stanford grads like Richard Sherman ’10 and Doug Baldwin ’11 of the Seahawks and David DeCastro ’12 of the Steelers were all eliminated last week, four former Cardinal players appeared on active rosters.
In Carolina, Arizona played defensive end Josh Mauro ’13, who had the challenge of pressuring and containing Cam Newton. Mauro recorded 1 tackle on the quarterback and helped on other plays but would see his night end early after sustaining a right calf injury in the first half.
Ultimately, Arizona’s defense was no match for the Panthers, who thrashed their opponents 49-15. Cardinals running back Stepfan Taylor ’13 did not see the field in the loss, in what was ultimately a frustrating season marred by injury setbacks and a lack of playing time.
In the AFC Championship, the Denver Broncos defeated the New England Patriots in what was the 17th installment of the Manning vs. Brady rivalry. Offensive tackle Cameron Fleming ’14 started for New England, in what was ultimately a horrific outing for the unit, as the Patriots gave up 4 sacks and a number of hits on quarterback Tom Brady.
Strong safety Jordan Richards ’15 also briefly saw the field for the Patriots.
In the end, Brady’s two interceptions and uncharacteristically low quarterback rating proved decisive in the Patriots 20-18 loss, allowing Manning and the Broncos to return to the Super Bowl for the second time in three years.
Hype will continue to build for the NFL finale, which will be played at Levi’s Stadium, just 12 miles from campus and also the site of Stanford’s famous Pac-12 Championship victory against USC last month. If a player from either team produces a solo performance close to that of Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey’s on the same field, Super Bowl 50 will be the perfect end to a captivating NFL season. While no former Stanford players are active on either team’s rosters, the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 should dazzle spectators in the Bay Area and beyond.
Contact Michael Spelfogel at mspel ‘at’ stanford.edu.