By Jose Saldana
Stanford alumni had a dominant display in the wild-card round of the 2017 NFL playoffs. Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin stole the show and stole a touchdown in the Seahawks’s 26-6 victory over the Detroit Lions.
Baldwin caught 11 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. He made several impressive catches, with the most notable being a one-handed 13-yard catch that was originally intended for his teammate Jermaine Kearse.
With 11 receptions, Baldwin reached double-digit catches in a game for second time in the last three games. He also set a Seahawks record for most career postseason receptions, with 50.
Baldwin’s teammate on the other side of the ball, cornerback Richard Sherman, had an equally fantastic outing, as he was part of a defensive unit that allowed only six points.
Sherman had one pass targeted in his direction and broke up one pass. He shut down any Lions receiver lined up with him and accrued two tackles.
Green Bay Packers linebacker Blake Martinez and Miami Dolphins safety Michael Thomas made their postseason debuts.
Martinez weathered the harsh conditions of Lambeau Field to make two tackles before succumbing to a knee injury, which knocked him out of the game for his team’s dominant 38-13 victory over the New York Giants.
Thomas claimed three total tackles and assisted on three others. His best play was intercepting Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and returning the ball 16 yards. His effort was not indicative of the outcome of the game, however, as the Steelers rolled over the Dolphins.
Steelers right guard David DeCastro has been a rock for his team and delivered another fine performance. He was part of an offensive line which only allowed one sack against a strong defensive front that stars mercurial defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. Even though Suh had the Dolphins’ only sack, DeCastro routinely prevented Suh from getting to the quarterback.
The Green Bay Packers had another notable outing by another Stanford alumnus, running back Ty Montgomery. Montgomery has morphed into a dual-threat running back, who is dangerous in the empty field on rushes and catches. He only had 27 rushing yards on 11 carries, but he faced very cold conditions and a terrific Giants defense, which gets after the ball carrier in hurry. The Packers’ game plan was to let quarterback Aaron Rodgers throw the ball on nearly every down, so Montgomery’s impact as a rusher was limited.
He had more success receiving the ball on pass attempts, as he had 41 yards on three receptions with most of those yards coming on a 34-yard reception.
Next week’s divisional-round action will feature continued play from Baldwin, Sherman, Montgomery, Martinez and DeCastro, as well as potential contributions from Atlanta tight ends Levine Toilolo and Austin Hooper, New England offensive tackle Cameron Fleming and safety Jordan Richards, and Houston outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett.