By Jibriel Taha
Sports Illustrated declared Stanford “Tight End U” earlier this year, and that reality was evident in Week 15.
Former Cardinal tight ends made their mark throughout Sunday, starting with Dallas Cowboys tight end Dalton Schultz ’18. He recorded two receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown in a 41-33 Cowboys victory over the San Francisco 49ers.
The afternoon slot saw an impact performance from Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz ’13, who registered two receptions for 69 yards; however, the Eagles fell 33-26 on the road to the Arizona Cardinals. The loss dropped the Eagles to 4-9-1, slotting them in last place in the NFC East.
On “Sunday Night Football,” multiple former Cardinal tight ends faced off against one other, highlighted by Austin Hooper ’17 of the Cleveland Browns picking up five receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. New York Giants’ tight ends Kaden Smith ’20 and Levine Toilolo ’14 each registered a reception, but Hooper and the Browns got the better of them in a 20-6 victory. The Browns sit at 10-4 and one game out of first place in the AFC North, but the team still has work to do to clinch a postseason berth.
On the defensive side of the ball, the former Cardinal linebacking duo of the Giants’ Blake Martinez ’16 and Indianapolis Colts’ Bobby Okereke ’18 impressed yet again. Although the Giants came up short against the Browns, Martinez recorded 10 tackles, marking the sixth game this year he recorded double-digit tackles. Okereke’s Colts managed a tight 27-20 victory against the Houston Texans, and the 2019 third-round pick registered seven tackles, a pass defended and a fumble recovery in the win.
In the secondary, 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman ’10 picked up two tackles in a loss to the Cowboys. The result moved the 49ers to 5-9, eliminating the defending NFC champions from playoff contention.
Earlier last week, Houston Texans safety Justin Reid ’18 underwent thumb surgery for a torn UCL, ending his season. In thirteen games this season, the third-year player registered 83 tackles and was on pace for a career-high in tackles while also picking up two sacks.
On Monday, the NFL announced the 2020 Pro Bowl selections, and three former Cardinal made the list. Pittsburgh Steelers guard David DeCastro ’12 was selected to his sixth Pro Bowl, New Orleans Saints guard Andrus Peat ’16 was selected to his third and New England Patriots punter Jake Bailey ’19 was selected to his first. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pro Bowl game will not be played this season; the game will be replaced by an event in which the rosters will be available to be played on “Madden NFL 21.”