Sports

Former Stanford players look forward to NFL postseason

 

The National Football League's regular season is over. Now, it's on to the playoffs. While Stanford will be well-represented in the postseason following action in Week 17.

Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin will be playing this Sunday in a wild-card game against Minnesota. He wrapped up the regular season by failing to secure a touchdown catch for the first time since Week 11 as the Seahawks beat Arizona, 36-6, to finish the regular season at 10-6.

Baldwin led Seattle receivers with seven targets, five catches and 46 yards, but could not add to his franchise-record 14 receiving touchdowns this season. He had an outstanding regular season, finishing his fifth NFL season with career highs in catches (78), targets (103), yards (1,069) and touchdowns (14). He was tied for the league lead in receiving touchdowns with Allen Robinson and Brandon Marshall. Baldwin also checked in as Pro Football Focus' eighth-best receiver with a season grade of 90.9.

Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman, also in his fifth season, finished with three tackles and two passes defended against Arizona. Sherman made 50 tackles, two interceptions and defended 14 passes in the regular season, making his third consecutive Pro Bowl.

For Arizona, running back Stepfan Taylor appeared on three offensive snaps and 64 percent of special teams snaps. Arizona, the NFC West champion, earned the No. 2 seed in the NFC and has a bye for this weekend's wild-card matchups. Taylor finished the regular season with 17 carries for 58 yards and a reception for four yards, while serving as one of Arizona's most reliable special-teamers.

Arizona defensive end Josh Mauro, meanwhile, wrapped up his second regular season by missing his second consecutive game. Mauro appeared in 14 regular-season games for Arizona, making four starts. He defended two passes, forced two fumbles, recovered another, had a sack and 21 tackles in the regular season.

Fourth-year guard David DeCastro played 100 percent of Pittsburgh's snaps in a 28-12 win at Cleveland to secure a spot in the playoffs. DeCastro's consistently excellent play in 2015 was rewarded with a Pro Bowl nod last week, and the Bengals will get their chance to knock bitter rivals Cincinnati out of the playoffs this weekend.

For Cleveland, defensive back Johnson Bademosi appeared on 45 percent of defensive snaps and 80 percent of special teams plays against Pittsburgh. He made a special teams tackle and defended a pass. He finished the regular season with 27 tackles, two passes defended and a fumble recovery while further establishing himself as one of the top special-teamers in the NFL. Tight end Jim Dray played on 27 percent of offensive snaps and 40 percent of special teams snaps for the Browns. He finished the season with six catches for 61 yards, making 10 starts primarily as a run-blocking tight end.

Elsewhere in Week 17 of the NFL:

Third-year tight end Zach Ertz of the Philadelphia Eagles had another big day, catching all nine targets thrown his way for 152 yards -- including one for 60 yards -- in a 35-30 win against the New York Giants. He was included in Pro Football Focus' team of the week, earning a +4.9 rating, which was the best of any NFL tight end in Week 17. Despite catching just two touchdowns, Ertz was second on the Eagles with 75 receptions and 853 yards. He finished the season with an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 86.9, fourth best among NFL tight ends.

Philadelphia rookie safety Ed Reynolds made his third start of the season against the Giants. He finished with seven tackles, playing all but one defensive snap and 57 percent of special teams snaps. He finished the season with six appearances with 21 tackles an interception for the 7-9 Eagles.

Fourth-year tight end Coby Fleener had a productive end to his season, catching all seven balls thrown his way for 88 yards and a score in Indianapolis' 30-24 win against Tennessee. His big play was a 57-yard touchdown strike from Josh Freeman late in the first quarter, his third score of the season. He was also given a +2.8 Pro Football Focus grade, accounting for over 40 percent of the team's receiving output. Fleener finished 2015 having played all 16 games for the third consecutive season. He caught 54 passes for 491 yards and three touchdowns, which were all team-bests for tight ends. He is an unrestricted free agent following the Colts' 8-8 season.

Rookie defensive tackle David Parry started for the Colts, appearing on 67 percent of defensive snaps and four special teams plays. The fifth-rounder started in all 16 games of his rookie season, totaling one sack and 31 tackles.

Quarterback Andrew Luck, meanwhile, was inactive on Sunday. He has been out since a Week 9 win against Denver with multiple core injuries, finishing the season 162-of-293 for 1,881 yards, 15 touchdowns and 12 interceptions in seven contests. Luck enters the final year of his rookie contract in 2016 and has yet to commit to a new long-term deal with the franchise, which missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011, the season before Luck's selection.

Rookie defensive back Jordan Richards came off the bench after New England safeties Patrick Chung and Devin McCourty returned to the lineup for Sunday's 20-10 loss at Miami. Richards made one tackle while playing 17 percent of defensive snaps and 67 percent of special teams snaps. Richards played in all but two games in his rookie regular season, earning high praise from Bill Belichick following his big performance in Week 16.

Second-year offensive guard Cameron Fleming started at left tackle and was one of two New England offensive players to play every snap on offense in the loss at Miami. After starting the season on the Patriots' practice squad, Fleming appeared in 12 contests, making seven starts for the defending Super Bowl champion.

The loss against Miami means New England has to settle for the second seed in the AFC playoffs. The Patriots will have a bye this week, but will face the higher AFC seed remaining following wild-card weekend.

For Miami, third-year safety Michael Thomas led the Dolphins in solo tackles (five), making six total with a pass defended in the win over New England. He was in on 85 percent of defensive snaps and 83 percent of special teams plays for the Dolphins, who finished the season 6-10. Thomas finished the season with a career-high 85 tackles and two passes defended, starting 13 games at free safety. He will be a restricted free agent in the upcoming offseason.

Second-year H-Back Ryan Hewitt of the Cincinnati Bengals sat out last Sunday against Baltimore after suffering a knee injury in the first half of Cincinnati's Week 16 loss at Denver, The Bengals host Pittsburgh in the wild-card round on Saturday night, and it is unclear whether or not Hewitt will be able to play. For now, the Bengals will fill their Hewitt-sized hole at fullback with 306-pound tackle Jake Fisher. Hewitt finished the regular season with eight catches for 99 yards, playing in 15 games while primarily serving as a run-blocker.

Third-year tight end Konrad Reuland of the Ravens was in on four offensive snaps and 46 percent of special teams plays in Baltimore's 20-16 loss at Cincinnati on Sunday. The Ravens finished 5-11, with Reuland appearing in four games with one start.

Second-year linebacker Trent Murphy helped Washington defeat Dallas, 34-23, in its regular-season finale. He appeared on 85 percent of defensive snaps and 65 percent of special teams snaps, with his one tackle being for a loss. The All-America selection at Stanford started in 15 games for the NFC East champion, finishing with 3.5 sacks, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries and 32 tackles. The Redskins will host Green Bay in a wild card playoff matchup on Sunday.

Rookie offensive tackle Andrus Peat was held out of New Orleans' season finale with a concussion. It was an up-and-down season for the Saints, who utilized Peat at right tackle, left tackle and left guard. It is unclear where Peat will play for New Orleans long term; his natural position is at tackle, but he showed excellent flashes of play at left guard, including a +2.6 Pro Football Focus grade in Week 14 against All-Pro Gerald McCoy. Guards Tim Lelito and Senio Kelemete, both of whom played every snap in Sunday's 20-17 win against Atlanta, are free agents, which could be opportune for the multi-faceted rookie out.

Third-year tight end Levine Toilolo, the man credited with catching Kevin Hogan's first touchdown pass at Stanford, started in Atlanta's loss to New Orleans. He appeared on 39 percent of offensive snaps and 70 percent of special teams plays, catching one of two targets for eight yards. Toilolo finished 2015 with seven catches for 44 yards, having appeared in all 16 contests, and is under contract with Atlanta in 2016.

Rookie linebacker Shayne Skov appeared in 82 percent of special teams snaps in San Francisco's season-ending 19-16 overtime win over St. Louis. Skov appeared in 15 games for the 49ers (5-11), almost exclusively as a special-teamer.

Rookie linebacker A.J. Tarpley of the Buffalo Bills started for the second straight week and made a crucial interception to help Buffalo secure a victory. This time, it was to deny the rival New York Jets from a possible playoff berth with a 22-17 triumph. Tarpley appeared on 23 percent of defensive snaps and 68 percent of special teams snaps while earning a +1.7 Pro Football Focus grade, with his game-winning interception coming inside the final minute. Tarpley finished the last two weeks of the season with two starts, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

— Stanford Athletics/Palo Alto Online Sports

Comments

Like this comment
Posted by Cincy
a resident of another community
on Jan 6, 2016 at 2:01 pm

It's not actually better, but the 49ers finished the season 5-11, not 4-12.


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