By Andrew Tan
With David Decastro, Blake Martinez and Doug Baldwin on bye and Richard Sherman out for the San Francisco 49ers, many big-name Cardinal players were out of action during week 7 of the NFL. Meanwhile, the few Stanford stars that did suit up proved to be key players.
Working backwards from the Monday Night matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants, Falcons’ tight end Austin Hooper put in a solid performance, hauling in three catches for 48 yards, including a 36-yard bomb, helping the Falcons to a 23-20 win. On his longest catch of the night, Hooper highpointed the ball from Matt Ryan over the jumping Cornerback Curtis Riley and came down with the grab before being pushed out of bounds. Demonstrating the leaping ability of a kangaroo and the elegance of Baryshnikov in landing, Hooper truly earned the nickname ‘Super Hooper’ on this play.
Up in the midwest at Lucas Oil Stadium, Quarterback Andrew Luck carried a pathetic Indianapolis Colts team to victory over the even more pathetic Buffalo Bills. Although Luck only threw for 156 yards, a paltry amount by his standards, he also punched in four touchdowns to lead the Colts past the Bills in a 37-5 stomping. In doing so, Luck provided the Colts with the kind of win that his dysfunctional front office can hide behind — they can point to this game and say ‘hey look, we won a game by a lot’— and has been using since Peyton Manning left to excuse its team-building ineptitude. The Colts are a team of Andrew Luck and a bunch of young players, so despite Luck’s prodigious talent and seemingly promising career, Indianapolis won’t be going anywhere besides the couch come playoff time.
The game of the week from a Cardinal perspective came in the form of the Carolina Panthers’ 17-point fourth-quarter comeback against the Philadelphia Eagles for a 21-17 triumph. Tight end Zach Ertz was all over this game, catching nine balls for 138 yards and serving as Quarterback Carson Wentz’s go-to receiving threat. Ertz now has the seventh most catches in the history of the NFL through seven weeks. He has the most for a tight end. However, Ertz’s gaudy stats were not what put him in the spotlight on Sunday. After safety Eric Reid, older brother of former Cardinal safety Justin Reid of the Houston Texans, put a late hit on Wentz, Ertz confronted Reid to protect his quarterback before Reid hoisted him up onto his shoulder and slammed him onto the ground. The body-slam more closely resembled a WWE move than a football tackle, and Reid’s leveling of Ertz would have made the Undertaker himself proud. Back to the football side of this game, running back Christian McCaffrey was instrumental in the Panthers’ comeback, collecting 80 total yards including a big 22-yard run to set up the go-ahead touchdown.
As week 8 approaches, look for Ertz to have another solid showing against the Jacksonville Jaguars whose vaunted defense has recently played down to the standard of its anemic Blake Bortles-led offense. Luck should go off against possibly the worst team in the NFL right now, the Oakland Raiders, while Baldwin and DeCastro will likely have solid showings coming off their bye weeks and playing mediocre teams — the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns — this week.
Contact Andrew Tan at tandrew ‘at’ stanford.edu