By James Hemker
Following the postponement of the 121st Big Game last weekend, Stanford football became a Sunday affair as alumni fought on the gridiron across the country. Week 11 wrinkled the normal expectations for Stanford in the NFL; Carolina Panthers’ running back Christian McCaffrey and Philadelphia Eagles’ tight end Zach Ertz were held to disappointing performances. Meanwhile, rookie Houston Texans’ safety Justin Reid was the highlight of the week for any Cardinal fan.
Reid proved to be instrumental in the Texans’ 23-21 win over the Washington Redskins, as he scored his first career touchdown off of a 101-yard pick six. The Texans had allowed 46 consecutive scores in their red-zone up to this point, and the Redskins were looking for their first lead change of the season. The Redskins’ curse ultimately proved to be stronger.
Down 7-10 in the second quarter, the Redskins methodically drove from their own 40-yard line down to the Texans’ nine-yard line. Miscommunications between Redskins quarterback Alex Smith and tight end Jordan Reed led to the ball sailing two yards behind the head of Reed and into the waiting arms of Justin Reid. In front of an erupting Texans’ sideline, the 205-lb safety flew 101 yards from end zone to end zone entirely untouched and extended the lead back to 10 points. Reid’s interception return is the longest allowed by the Redskins in franchise history.
In addition to his game-changing pick six, Reid also recorded three tackles and two defended passes. Sunday marked his fifth consecutive start after starting only one game through his first five weeks. Following this week’s performance, Reid is being heralded as one of the best draft picks from the 2018 draft. Reid was originally projected as a first or second round pick by draft experts and scouts, however, Houston stole Reid away in the third round.
Now, Reid is in the Defensive Rookie of the Year conversation. His 42 solo tackles are fifth best on the team, and he leads the Texans with three interceptions. Most impressive about his tackles is that he has not missed one this season. Pro Football Focus ranks Reid as the best tackler in the league. Reid and the Texans should have an easy matchup against the Tennessee Titans on Monday Night Football next week.
Indianapolis Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck exploited the Titans’ weak defense on Sunday in a 38-10 rout. By quarterback rating (143.8), Luck had his best game since Week 11 of 2016, and he had the third-best game of any quarterback this week. Luck completed 23 of 29 passes to eight different receivers for a total of 297 yards. This game marked his season high for completion percentage and yards/attempt as well. Next week, Luck hosts the Dolphins, who are just 1-4 on the road.
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin and Green Bay Packers’ linebacker Blake Martinez shared the field on Thursday night. Baldwin had his best game of the season, and his first touchdown of the year helped to lift the Seahawks to a 27-24 victory. Baldwin had 52 yards from seven catches. Martinez, who did not miss a snap, continued to play through an ankle injury and recorded six tackles, including one for a loss. The Seahawks will play the Panthers next week while the Packers will face the Vikings in an NFC North showdown.
Both McCaffrey and Ertz came off of monster weeks to find no success on the field on Sunday. McCaffrey was kept out of the end zone for the first time in four games in the Panthers’ 19-20 loss to the Detroit Lions. McCaffrey had a combined 110 yards from scrimmage, but Lions kept him out of the end zone, limiting the Panthers’ scoring ability. Ertz was witness to another Drew Brees massacre as the Eagles fell to the New Orleans Saints 7-48. Ertz caught just two passes for 15 meager yards. The Eagles’ next opponent is the New York Giants.
Contact James Hemker at jahemker ‘at’ stanford.edu