Victor Dimukeje, Trace McSorley pace Arizona Cardinals in rout of Bengals
Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Victor Dimukeje made the most of his opportunity on Friday night.
The linebacker led the way defensively in Arizona’s 36-23 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, registering a pair of sacks, two QB hits, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble.
“It was just showing the improvement I made from my first year to my second year, showing the strides I made in practice and just showing I could play a regular season game,” Dimukeje told Cardinals sideline reporter Paul Calvisi after the game.
A REAL PROBLEM 😤@Vicdimukeje X #BirdCityFootball pic.twitter.com/zsND2k0ney
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 13, 2022
The second-year pro continues to improve after he saw most of his work as a special teamer last season.
Now, he enters Year 2 with an opportunity to impact the team defensively.
With the pass-rushing spot opposite Markus Golden open for the taking following Chandler Jones’ departure to Las Vegas, Arizona is looking for a solution to the void, whether that’s a single body or a collective effort.
Preseason or not, Dimukeje’s play is encouraging to say the least.
“We loved him coming out,” head coach Kliff Kingsbury told reporters postgame. “The size as far as a physical, stocky player that is explosive. Can play the run, can play the pass. We want to see him continue to develop but that was a good start tonight. He’s had a nice camp and hopefully he can continue to get off the ball like he has and make plays for us.”
On the other side of the football, quarterback Trace McSorley helped his cause in solidifying his place as QB3 behind Kyler Murray and Colt McCoy.
Starting the first half, the quarterback threw for 163 yards and a touchdown on 13-of-22 passing (59.1%), orchestrating four scoring drives over two quarters of action. He finished with a 97.3 passer rating and chipped in a team-high 32 rushing yards on four carries.
“The main goal coming into it was getting the victory,” McSorley told reporters after the game. “Being able come in and done that, got a lot of guys some good touches and good tape out there, good tape for us to go review and keep improving on it. It was a great week.”
It didn’t take long for McSorley to put his mark on the matchup, utilizing his arm and legs over the course of the nine-play, 79-yard opening drive. It was capped off by a four-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Andre Baccellia.
But while that was his only score of the evening, the signal caller kept drives alive with good decision-making mixed in with a handful of chunk plays.
Trace McSorley off script 🤌@AZCardinals @McSorley_IX
📱: Stream #AZvsCIN on NFL+ https://t.co/DqhJvWly2R pic.twitter.com/Yl1R3uQiMm
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2022
McSorley’s play helped the team post a perfect goal-to-go mark (4-of-4). Last season, Arizona ranked 29th in that category. The Cardinals were also 5-of-6 in red-zone situations (83%).
The QB and Dimukeje weren’t the only ones to turn heads during Friday’s victory, either.
Other Cardinals standouts
CB Christian Matthew
After Cardinals Kingsbury specifically mentioned Matthew as a player he was eager to watch, the rookie cornerback made good on the hype. He finished with a pass defensed and a tackle while showing his chops in coverage.
He’ll be a name to watch as the preseason progresses, especially with the question marks surrounding the cornerbacks room.
WR Greg Dortch
Here is your regular-scheduled Dortch section.
Dortch’s latest performance only helped his chances of cracking the team’s 53-man roster. Reeling in four of his eight targets, the wideout finished with 53 yards, including this 30-yard gem.
You Got Dortch'd@_GDortch pic.twitter.com/kQSFr85Yn2
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 12, 2022
He didn’t just make plays as a receiver, either.
Racking up 89 yards on five punt returns, Dortch once more proven his worth in special teams.
LIGHT THE DORTCH 🔥@_GDortch x #BirdCityFootball pic.twitter.com/mWtRfUNQiD
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) August 13, 2022
RBs Jonathan Ward and Keaontay Ingram
The duo of Ward (2) and Ingram (1) combined for three touchdowns against Cincinnati, keeping the battle for the fourth RB spot a tight one to say the least. While Ingram garnered more rushing yards than Ward, 27 to 15, it was the former who won in the receiving game with a pair of catches for 26 yards.
“I feel as though it was the right step forward,” Ward told Calvisi. “I put my best foot out there and just blessed nonetheless to be able to go out there and showcase my talent.
“I just like to live by the word ‘now,'” Ward added. “No opportunity wasted, whether that’s one snap, five snaps, 20 snaps, I just try to go out there and make the most out of every opportunity, because it only takes one play for everyone to notice you. Just try to get out there and make the best of it.”
OL Josh Jones
After a rough showing as a right guard last season, Jones is back at tackle, his natural position.
He looked loads more comfortable after sliding over and had a couple of key blocks in the win.
– The Cardinals recorded just three penalties in the victory.
“That was our main goal to play clean, play physical, play fast and I thought we did those things,” Kingsbury said.