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Stanford in the NFL: Alumni receivers star in Week 9

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Former members of the Stanford receiving corps put together an impressive Week 9. Behind touchdowns by Falcons tight ends Austin Hooper and Levine Toilolo, Stanford tight ends and receivers were active across the NFL, with Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz, New Orleans’ Coby Fleener, Green Bay’s Ty Montgomery and Seattle’s Doug Baldwin also making notable contributions. On defense, Stanford alumnus Richard Sherman, an ex-Stanford receiver turned cornerback himself, led a strong showing for Seattle in the team’s Monday night victory.

Austin Hooper got a rare start in the Falcons game due to original starter Jacob Tamme being out with a shoulder injury. On the road against Tampa Bay, Hooper picked up where he left off following his five-reception performance last week, ending the night with three catches for 42 yards. The Stanford alumnus punctuated his night with a score on a quick 2-yard slant with 9:56 to go in the fourth quarter.

Fellow Falcons tight end Toilolo, bumped up from third to second string due to Tamme’s injury, made the most of his lone target, catching a 32-yard touchdown pass with 7:39 to go in the first frame to tie the score with the Buccaneers at 7. The reception came on an extended play as quarterback Matt Ryan was flushed out of the pocket and hit Toilolo on the run, who powered through a would-be tackler on his way to paydirt.

Both Hooper and Toilolo’s touchdowns were the second of their respective careers. The Falcons went on to win 43-28 against the Bucs on last week’s Thursday Night Football.

Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz hauled in all eight of his targets for a team-leading 97 yards receiving. Five of those catches came on a single drive in the late third and early fourth quarters, yet the Eagles couldn’t capitalize, ultimately ending the drive with a 26-yard field goal. All said, the Eagles lost to the Giants 28-23, a missed opportunity given that they turned the ball over twice on downs within the Giants 10 yard line instead of kicking field goals and had another field goal blocked.

And there was yet another contribution out of Stanford alumni at the Y position, coming from Saints player Coby Fleener who tallied three catches for 42 yards in the Saints’ 41-23 win over the 49ers. Fleener’s timely 26-yard catch and run brought the Saints across midfield with 22 seconds to go in the first half, leading to a field goal as time expired heading into halftime to extend their lead to double digits.

Elsewhere in the receiving corps, Seahawks wideout Doug Baldwin was a frequent target for Seattle, catching six passes for 89 yards as the Seahawks beat the Bills 31-25. The Packers’ Ty Montgomery returned from a liver ailment related to the sickle cell anemia that kept him out last week to rack up stats both out of the running back and wide receiver positions, accumulating 53 yards on the ground on just seven carries and 38 yards receiving on three catches. However, Montgomery’s efforts were for naught as the Packers lost 31-26 to the Colts, led by quarterback Andrew Luck.

Luck threw for 281 yards, going 23-for-36 with one touchdown and two interceptions. He was also sacked twice during the game, but finished with 15 yards on the ground. The Colts were helped by a strong special teams performance, including a 99-yard kick return touchdown, en route to the victory.

On the other side of the ball, Stanford alumni did not have quite as productive of a week as the offense, but had some top performers as well. Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had an interception to go along with five tackles in Seattle’s victory. In the third quarter, he intercepted Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor in the end zone after confusion on the route between Taylor and his wideout Robert Woods. Sherman returned the pick 31 yards to the Seahawks’ 27-yard line.

Packers linebacker Blake Martinez continued to impress during his rookie year, tying a career-high eight tackles in the loss against the Colts. Meanwhile, Colts defensive lineman David Parry recorded four solo tackles and a sack, the second of his career. However, Parry also had a costly offsides penalty which gave the Packers a free play, resulting in a successful heave to the end zone.

In the secondary, Browns safety Ed Reynolds tallied a season high five tackles as the Browns dropped to 0-9 in their 35-10 loss to the Cowboys. Lions cornerback Johnson Bademosi got the start again and provided another strong defensive effort, with four solo tackles and a pass defended, helping Detroit beat the Vikings in overtime 22-16. Dolphins safety Michael Thomas registered two solo tackles and a quarterback hit in the team’s 27-23 win against the Jets.

Of note: On the offensive line, the Steelers’ David DeCastro, 49ers’ Joshua Garnett, and Saints’ Andrus Peat all got the start and played every single one of their team’s offensive snaps.

Contact Jamie MacFarlane at jamiemac ‘at’ stanford.edu.