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Stanford in the NFL: Defense rules as Cardinal alums make their marks on the League

Austin Hooper (84)

Over the weekend, Stanford alumni in the NFL looked strong across the board on defense, while several offensive players registered standout performances.

Rookie linebacker Blake Martinez led the charge with a career-high 7 combined tackles — 5 solo and 2 assists — in Green Bay’s 34-27 win over the Detroit Lions. During the game, he returned to the locker room after bursting stitches on his nose, but after medical staff stitched the wound back up, the rookie returned to the field to take his place at the center of the NFL’s top-ranked rushing defense. On the other side of the ball, Lions cornerback Johnson Bademosi notched a solo tackle of his own on a punt return by Green Bay’s Trevor Davis.

Atlanta Falcon Austin Hooper and New Orleans Saint Andrus Peat faced off against each other in the Monday Night Football matchup. After the game, the former teammates swapped jerseys. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)
Atlanta Falcon Austin Hooper and New Orleans Saint Andrus Peat faced off against each other in the Monday Night Football matchup. After the game, the former teammates swapped jerseys. (MIKE KHEIR/The Stanford Daily)

Martinez has firmly established himself as a key member of the Packers defense, playing nearly 70 percent of downs as half of an inside linebacker duo with second-year player Jake Ryan. The two have been affectionately nicknamed “Jake and Blake” by Green Bay media and fans alike.

Wide receiver Ty Montgomery, who has primarily seen time on special teams this season, gave the Packers an advantage with a quick-thinking play on a Lions kickoff. Exploiting a loophole in the rulebook, Montgomery stepped out of bounds during the kick and reached forward to touch the ball on the 3-yard line while keeping his feet out of bounds. Because the ball came into contact with an out-of-bounds player, it was deemed that the kickoff technically went out of bounds, resulting in a penalty for the Lions which placed the ball at the 40-yard line.

Trent Murphy also had a defensive showing when Washington took on the New York Giants Sunday afternoon. The third-year defensive end racked up 4 combined tackles, including a strip sack of Giants quarterback Eli Manning in the third quarter, although the ball was recovered by New York. Murphy has seen his playing time increase as of late, and his stats have flourished with it. With 10 tackles in the first 3 games, Murphy is well on pace to surpass his 2015 totals, and his 2 forced fumbles so far this season have matched a career high.

In Indianapolis, second-year Colts defensive tackle David Parry recorded 4 combined tackles (2 solo) as the Colts squeaked by with a 26-22 win over the San Diego Chargers. Fellow Colts DT Henry Anderson was activated for the first time this season after an extended rehabilitation period. Anderson tore his ACL last season, finishing out the year on Injured Reserve. Despite his activation, he remained sidelined, likely as a precautionary measure as he eases back into full-time action.

At quarterback, Andrew Luck led the Colts offensively, going 24-for-37 for 331 yards. Although he only passed for 1 touchdown and was intercepted early in the game, Luck’s stats showed a marked improvement over his performance in last week’s loss against Denver, in which he fumbled and was intercepted. Down 2 with under four minutes left to play, Luck led Indianapolis on an 83-yard drive, punctuated by a 63-yard pass to T.Y. Hilton for the game-winning touchdown. With the win, Luck prevented Indianapolis from going 0-3 for the first time since he took the reins in 2012.

Richard Sherman put up a strong showing with the Legion of Boom in Seattle this weekend — 2 solo tackles and a pass defended — but the star of the game was on the other side of the ball, where fellow Cardinal Doug Baldwin caught 8 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown. Baldwin was electric, coming up with big plays when it counted, including a one-handed diving grab to keep the Seahawks’ drive alive in their 37-18 win over the 49ers.

San Francisco first-round draft pick Joshua Garnett made some appearances at guard on special teams snaps, but the rookie has yet to receive any regular playing time.

In Miami, Dolphins safety Michael Thomas recorded 2 solo tackles as the Dolphins overcame the Cleveland Browns in overtime. Arizona defensive tackle Josh Mauro also recorded a solo tackle in the Cardinals’ 33-18 upset loss to the Buffalo Bills.

Despite the Texans’ 27-0 defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots, undrafted rookie Brennan Scarlett recorded a solo tackle for the second straight week as he works to establish himself in Houston.

In a Monday night showdown between the Atlanta Falcons and the New Orleans Saints, tight end Coby Fleener put up his best numbers since 2014, taking 7 catches for an impressive 109 yards and a touchdown. Fleener proved himself to be quarterback Drew Brees’ favorite long-ball target for the night, with receptions of 24, 32 and 36 yards. This may prove a breakout performance for Fleener, whose numbers since joining the Saints in the offseason have been lackluster. After seeing just 3 receptions for 35 yards in the first two games combined, Fleener was a spark for the New Orleans offense Monday night despite the team’s 45-32 loss to the Falcons.

After the game, Atlanta rookie tight end Austin Hooper and Saints offensive tackle Andrus Peat exchanged jerseys.

 

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

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