By James Hemker
After losing four of their last five games, Stanford football has thoroughly dashed all hopes and dreams for another dominant season. The only solace left for Cardinal fans now resides on Sundays. Unfortunately, Week 9 in the NFL was a rollercoaster for Stanford alumni as impressive offensive performances were dampened by injuries on the other side of the ball.
Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey had a wild day, running all over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to assist the Panthers in a 42-28 rout. Over 17 carries, the second most he has received this season, McCaffrey carved up 79 yards. He notably punched the ball into the endzone from 3 yards out and 1 yard out, a distance generally reserved for quarterback Cam Newton. Adding to his rushing yards, the ex-Cardinal caught five balls on six targets for 79 receiving yards. His most impressive catch went for a speedy 32 yards and featured him hurdling a Bucs defensive back in perfect form. Video:
JUMP CMC 😱 pic.twitter.com/YYfz5zepu8
— Carolina Panthers (@Panthers) November 4, 2018
Seattle Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin did not see much action, but he made the most of what he did get in a 25-17 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. He nabbed all four of his targets for a team-leading 77 yards, including a 42-yard bomb downfield. The eight-year veteran has had a slow start to the year coming back from an injury, and he still looks for his first touchdown of the season.
Atlanta Falcons tight end Austin Hooper was a part of the Falcon’s thorough 38-14 dismantling of a regressing Washington Redskins team. Hooper hauled in his three targets for a total of 41 yards. Despite the quiet afternoon, Hooper is tied for second most receptions on the team with 44. Look for Hooper to have a big game against the drowning Browns, who have given up 58 receptions and six touchdowns to tight ends this year.
Houston Texans rookie safety Justin Reid played the best game of his career so far, helping the Texans squeeze by the Denver Broncos 19-17. Reid recorded a career-high nine solo tackles, which proved to be the most in the game by any Texan by a wide margin. Reid also scooped up his first fumble recovery after Broncos’ running back Devontae Booker spilled the ball on the ground early in the second quarter.
San Francisco 49ers’ defensive end Solomon Thomas and cornerback Richard Sherman helped lead a suffocating 34-3 blowout against the Oakland Raiders. In a theme consistent throughout the season, Sherman had another low action game since quarterbacks simply refuse to look in his direction. He did manage to pick up three tackles on runs. Thomas had a fun day against the lifeless Raiders, picking up three tackles, which included a sack on Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr.
Two of Stanford’s most productive offensive performers, Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck and Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz, both had bye weeks. After a controversial weekend in Green Bay, Ty Montgomery was traded to the Baltimore Ravens, but he did not play in their loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. Ertz should return to dominate an always contentious NFC East rivalry game against the Dallas Cowboys. Expect Luck to have a field day against the Jacksonville Jaguars’ severely injured secondary.
Among those injured Jaguars include cornerback Quenton Meeks, who suffered an MCL sprain two weeks ago. He was the last healthy Jag’s corner, and he will certainly be sidelined for the coming weeks. Green Bay Packers’ star linebacker Blake Martinez suffered a high ankle sprain during the third quarter of Green Bay’s loss to the New England Patriots. His timetable is uncertain, and he will be listed as questionable for next week’s game against the Miami Dolphins.
Next week, the Cardinal will be out in force across the league. Luck and Hooper will face weak defenses, and expect McCaffrey to see more receptions as the Steelers possess a strong run defense but an average pass defense. Baldwin and Ertz will have their work cut out for them as they both play in tough division games against the Rams and Cowboys, respectively. Sherman and Thomas may have another field day against a floundering New York Giants’ offense, while Reid and Montgomery will get deserved rest as they enter their bye weeks.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu