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Stanford in the NFL: onwards and upwards

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From injuries to bye weeks, positives were few and far between for the Cardinal cohort in the NFL in Week 10. Multiple top players had expected stellar performances, but the injury bug sidelined two notable starters.

Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, as usual, was a clear bright spot, but he couldn’t find the end zone when his team needed him most. Trailing 24-16 against the Green Bay Packers with seconds to go, the Panthers needed just two yards to score. A quick handoff to McCaffrey initially looked promising, but he was stuffed inches short of the end zone. A replay review upheld this call and the Panthers lost by 8.

McCaffrey finished with 20 touches for 108 yards and a rushing touchdown early in the fourth quarter. He also chipped in 6 catches for 33 yards. 

Former Stanford linebacker Blake Martinez faced off against McCaffrey in this snowy matchup in Green Bay. Martinez was his typical self in the contest, registering 7 tackles to bring his total up to 102, which leads the NFL.

Outside of this primetime matchup, injuries forced two starting former Stanford players out of the New Orleans Saints vs. Atlanta Falcons game. Saints’ left offensive guard Andrus Peat was out with an arm injury and Falcons’ tight end Austin Hooper injured his knee in the fourth quarter. An MRI taken on Monday determined Hooper’s injury to be an MCL sprain, the severity of which is unknown at this point. Hooper had four catches for 17 yards and a touchdown in the contest. 

On the season, Hooper has been one of the most productive tight ends in the league with 56 catches, 608 yards and six touchdowns. 

In a Monday Night Football showdown, the San Francisco 49ers took on the Seattle Seahawks, with the former team of 49ers’ starting cornerback and former Cardinal standout Richard Sherman. Heading into the contest, Sherman and the rest of the 49ers defense allowed on average just 241 yards per game, easily the best in the NFL.

In a back-and-forth affair, the 49ers lost their first game of the season in a heartbreaking fashion. Sherman finished with six tackles, but the Seahawks defeated their NFC West rivals on a game-winning field goal, 27-24, as time expired in overtime.

Buffalo Bills’ defensive end Trent Murphy and Indianapolis Colts’ linebacker Bobby Okereke both played complementary roles for their respective teams’ defenses. Murphy finished his game with seven tackles in a loss to the Cleveland Browns, while Okereke and his four tackles weren’t enough to save his team from the lowly Miami Dolphins, who earned just their second win of the season on Sunday against the Colts.

Both the Texans and Eagles were on bye weeks, so Eagles star tight end Zach Ertz and up-and-coming Texans outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett will have to wait to build on their impressive Week 9 performances.

With the return of Ertz and Scarlett, and hopefully speedy recoveries of Hooper and Peat, Week 11 will be a chance to put a forgettable week in the NFL in the rearview mirror.

Contact Jeremy Rubin at jjmrubin ‘at’ stanford.edu.