PALO ALTO, Calif. -- That's two weeks in a row the defense has been asked, nay, forced to make a statement early in a game. And two weeks in a row they have responded in brilliant fashion.
Against UCLA, it was a four-down, goal-line stand and the Bruins were turned away inside the Stanford 5-yard line.
Saturday against Colorado, the defense was called to arms sooner than expected after the Cardinal fumbled away the opening kickoff. The defense found itself starting the game from their own 36-yard line.
The defense stopped Colorado at its own 12 and forced the Buffs into attempting a 29-yard field goal.
Enter Max Bergen. Literally. He entered the Colorado backfield like he had an all-access, VIP invitation.
"I don't think anyone blocked me," Bergen said. "It was pretty clean."
Right this way, Mr. Bergen. An outstretched Bergen blocked the kick, picked up the ball on one-hop and darted 75 yards with a convoy for a touchdown.
"Great job getting the block, the recovery and the touchdown," said head coach David Shaw. "It was awesome ... great play by Max, great call by (special teams coach) Brian Polian."
The defense went right back on the field forced a three-and-out. And like they did against UCLA, the offense responded to the tempo set by the defense, going 78 yards on nine plays for a touchdown in its first opportunity of the game.
"I think we got them started," Bergen said. "But the offense really carried us most of the game. But it was a little jump start."
You have to go back to high school the last time Max Bergen scored a touchdown. And since the linebacker is a fifth-year senior, it's been a while.
"I was thinking touchdown all the way," Bergen said.
His response drew a laugh from safety Michael Thomas, wide receiver Griff Whalen and quarterback Andrew Luck, who joined Bergen in the postgame news conference Saturday night. And it differed significantly from Week 1. When Henry Anderson recovered a fumble and was stopped just short of the goal line, Anderson joked that he kept expecting to be tackled and couldn't believe he was still on his feet.
Not so with Bergen.
"I took a few looks to my sides," he said. "I just wanted to score. That was the only thing on my mind."
Bergen said the defense thrives in situations where they have to jump on the field at a moment's notice.
"We're always prepared for a sudden change like that," he said. "Our defense takes pride in going on the field in sudden-change situations and making a stop. That's our game."