On a weekend where both current and former Stanford offensive players struggled, Coby Fleener ’12 was a rare highlight.
The Indianapolis tight end had a spectacular day against new England, catching seven passes from former Stanford teammate Andrew Luck ’12 for a career-high 144 yards. Fleener looked sharp, particularly in the third quarter. He broke free from coverage to pull in a 45-yard reception, and followed it up three plays later with an incredible 20-yard sideline grab to set up the Colts for their second touchdown.
Fleener was critical of his red zone performance after the game, but his strong overall showing attracted the acclaim of his teammates and commentators alike. “He did a heck of a job,” Luck told the Indianapolis Star.
For his part, Luck turned in a decent performance, passing for over 300 yards for his eighth game in row and narrowly retaining his position as the NFL’s leader in passing yardage. He found two separate receivers in the end zone for two short touchdowns and even recorded the Colts’ longest rush of the night, making a strong case for his candidacy as this year’s MVP. The former No. 1 draft pick received little help from Indianapolis’s running game, however, and thus his offense was unable to keep pace with the AFC-leading Patriots.
On the other sideline, New England offensive lineman Cameron Fleming ’14 has had his reps quietly increased, and he featured prominently in many six-offensive lineman packages for the Patriots as running back Jonas Gray scored four touchdowns. However, Fleming went down with an injury late in the game.
Trent Murphy ’14 continued to show improvement for the Washington Redskins as they took on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.
Murphy came up with two tackles over the course of the game, including a critical first-quarter sack. When the Buccaneers were faced with a third down inside Washington’s 10-yard line, Murphy found his way through the Tampa Bay offensive line and hit Tampa Bay’s Josh McCown, knocking the ball loose. The Redskins were unable to recover the fumble, but Murphy’s important stop did allow them to hold Tampa Bay to a field goal.
Murphy recorded the fifth-highest number of tackles for loss in Stanford history while on the Farm, but he had been struggling to get to the quarterback for the Redskins this season. Double teams and a lack of NFL experience have not helped the rookie’s case, as Washington’s pass rush has largely failed to meet expectations. With contributions like these, however, Murphy seems to be showing that he has what it takes to become an elite linebacker and a key contributor to the Redskins’ rebuilding project.
Doug Baldwin ’11 recorded his second touchdown of the season for the Seattle Seahawks as they fell 24-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs. The notably short-tempered wide receiver left the game quite unhappy, however, after he felt he had been interfered with in the end zone late in the fourth quarter.
On a fourth-and-2 inside the Chiefs’ 10-yard line, the Seahawks opted for the play-action pass, and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson lobbed a pass in Baldwin’s direction. The receiver hit the turf well in front of the ball’s trajectory.
“I was pushed. It was obvious,” Baldwin told ESPN after the game. “As far as I know, when the ball is in the air I’m not supposed to be touched by the defender. Period. That’s the rule.” Wilson’s pass was not one of his best, however, and it is unclear if Baldwin would have been able to get to it even if he were unobstructed.
Elsewhere for the Seahawks, cornerback Richard Sherman ‘11 recorded four tackles, as the “Legion of Boom” held Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith to just 108 yards passing.
For the Stanford class of 2013, Sunday was a day of recovery and re-emergence. Stepfan Taylor ’13 returned from injury for the Arizona Cardinals, carrying the ball twice for six yards. Meanwhile, Chase Thomas ’13 recorded his second career start for the San Francisco 49ers, once again coming up with a tackle.
Tight ends Zach Ertz ’13 and Levine Toilolo ’13 both improved on disappointing performances from last week. Ertz was again kept out of the end zone for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he did pull down four catches for 55 yards. Toilolo grabbed two catches for 23 yards, helping the Falcons to a much-needed win.
Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’ stanford.edu.