Stanford in the NFL: Divisional round playoffs

Jan. 18, 2017, 1:14 a.m.

Stanford alumni were on full display both on and off the field in last weekend’s NFL divisional playoff round, specifically in the NFC, in which Cardinal wide receivers led their respective offenses, both in the air and on the ground. And in the wake of the games this weekend, former Cardinal and Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman was part of some ongoing controversy off the field with the NFL stirred by head coach Pete Carroll.

Down south in Dallas, Green Bay running back and Dallas native Ty Montgomery and Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin highlighted former Cardinal players on the offenses, while Sherman was the feature piece of a struggling Legion of Boom during Seattle’s loss to Atlanta.

Montgomery topped Cardinal performances with his contributions to a previously leaky Green Bay Packers running game, totaling two touchdowns and 47 yards on 11 carries. Superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers also utilized Montgomery’s dual-threat option out of the backfield, targeting the flex player through the air seven times for six receptions and 34 yards.

The former Cardinal scored his first and second postseason touchdowns during his Sunday outing and provided half of Green Bay’s touchdowns during its highly competitive contest on the road in Dallas. Montgomery and Rodgers led the Packers to a 34-31 win, cutting Dallas’ rookie-driven dream season short.

“It was a lot of fun,” said Montgomery in a postgame interview with the NFL Network. “We came out hot. They ended up coming back, but we ended up pulling out the win, and it was so much fun pulling it out in front of the home crowd.”

Stanford alumni also featured on both sidelines in Atlanta during a shockingly dull contest between the Seahawks and the Falcons in which a Matt Ryan passing attack picked apart the notorious “Legion of Boom” through the air. Ryan finished the game with three touchdowns and 338 yards, including a 10-yard reception to former Cardinal tight end Austin Hooper.

Atlanta’s three-man receiver core of Mohamed Sanu, Julio Jones and Taylor Gabriel, in addition to superstar running back Devonta Freeman, continually racked up yards against Seattle’s defense, reeling after the loss of Earl Thomas. Sherman’s four solo tackles on the night ultimately couldn’t make up for the shaky passing defensive effort, and the Seahawks exited the playoffs after losing 36-20.

Sherman’s performance, however, has been overshadowed by controversy surrounding the famous cornerback’s prior injury concerns, brought up during an ESPN radio interview with Carroll on Monday morning. Following the interview, the NFL announced it was launching an investigation into the injury that had not been previously reported, violating NFL policy.

When asked why Carroll didn’t report the injury previously, the Seahawks head coach told interviewers, “I don’t know. I’m feeling like I screwed that up with not telling you that because that happened, but he was OK. So I don’t know. He never missed anything, which is probably why.”

On the other side of the ball, Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin recorded a touchdown on five receptions, ending the night with 80 yards. While Baldwin and teammate Paul Richardson highlighted a Seahawks passing attack that racked up 225 yards on the night, the Falcons completely outmatched Seattle from start to finish.

“He was just throwing the ball,” Sherman told journalists in a shortened and sullen postgame interview. “It was lack of focus and attention to detail on our side.”

Outside the NFC, Steelers offensive guard David DeCastro was the lone Cardinal alumnus in the AFC divisional round. DeCastro’s play in the trenches helped a strong Steelers running game and famously patient running back Le’Veon Bell, totaling 170 yards rushing and a plus-110 rushing margin on the night.  

Moving onto the conference championships, Montgomery and Hooper will lead offenses in next weekend’s action as the two teams prepare their bid for the Super Bowl. With these two high-flying offenses entering the clash, Stanford alumni are sure to make an impact in this upcoming conference championship.


Contact Lorenzo Rosas at enzor9 ‘at’

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