Cardinals GM: DL Zach Allen, J.J. Watt flashed as tandem vs. Raiders

Sep 23, 2022, 3:18 PM
Defensive end Zach Allen #94 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the...
Defensive end Zach Allen #94 of the Arizona Cardinals rushes quarterback Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs during the game at State Farm Stadium on September 11, 2022 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Lost amid an overtime fumble return for a touchdown and Kyler Murray scrambles that would draw close to the buzzer of an NBA shot clock was the Arizona Cardinals’ defensive performance on Sunday. At least in the second half of a 29-23 overtime win against the Las Vegas Raiders.

To beat the Raiders, Arizona had to hold its opponent to a field goal in the second half and overtime.

And for the Cardinals playing against a team that signed star linebacker Chandler Jones away from them this offseason, it was quite a statement made.

It helped that Arizona got its defensive line leader back, too.

“I think it’s the ability to apply pressure, which obviously J.J. Watt did a great job of that,” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim told Arizona Sports’ Burns & Gambo on Friday. “I think Zach Allen played maybe his best game as a pro. And when plays needed to be made, Isaiah (Simmons) stepped up to the plate and got it done. But J.J. was really good that entire game.

“I think we’re 8-0 with J.J. Watt on the field (in the regular season),” Keim said, leaving out his limited return in the Wild Card round of last year’s playoffs. “I think it’s pretty imperative that we keep him out there.”

Arizona indeed went 7-0 with Watt on the roster last regular season before facing this week’s opponent, the Los Angeles Rams, in an ugly Wild Card loss to end 2021. Watt missed the 2022 opener but returned from a calf injury Sunday.

Watt recorded two tackles, including his second sack as a member of the Cardinals. He added a stuff and a batted-down pass.

Teaming up with a still-improving Allen gave Arizona some oomph up front.

Allen has a pair of quarterback hits in each of his first two games this week and has played 84% of the available snaps — about as high as it gets for how defensive coordinator Vance Joseph shuffles his defensive linemen.

Allen, the team’s third-round pick in 2019, is highly rated with a 75.2 overall grade on Pro Football Focus as well, with approving scores in both run defense (73.7) and the pass rush (77.0).

“He just continues to improve,” Keim said. “He’s a guy that’s a great worker, he’s a really intellectual player. Since we got J.J. obviously — a guy he grew up idolizing — he’s just sort of been a sponge.

“To watch him daily work and follow J.J. around and to see him take his game to a new level has been really exciting.”

Life Changer Loans

Arizona Cardinals

Kyler Murray #1 of the Arizona Cardinals and head coach Kliff Kingsbury wait along the sidelines du...
Tyler Drake

Kliff Kingsbury on exchange with Kyler Murray: Both ‘want to get it right’

Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury chalked up his heated exchange with Kyler Murray that was picked up by cameras on Sunday as a good thing.
8 hours ago
Philadelphia Eagles' Miles Sanders scores a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game...
Associated Press

Behind Enemy Lines: Miles Sanders quietly starring for undefeated Eagles

Take a look at all the players getting credit this season for the Eagles' start and it's easy to see why Miles Sanders was overlooked.
1 day ago
Ian Thomas #80 of the Carolina Panthers is tackled by Isaiah Simmons #9 of the Arizona Cardinals du...
Tyler Drake

Cardinals LB Isaiah Simmons’ snap count sees serious jump vs. Panthers

It was a near-full team effort from Arizona, with 47 players seeing their number called at some point or another in Week 4.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals kicker Matt Prater (5) watches his field goal attempt hit the goal post during th...
Tyler Drake

Arizona Cardinals weighing kicking options with Matt Prater banged up

Injured kicker Matt Prater represents a rather large question mark for the Arizona Cardinals entering Week 5.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals CB Antonio Hamilton runs through drills during training camp on Wednesday, Aug. 1...
Arizona Sports

Cardinals designate 3 players to return from IR

The Cardinals on Monday designated cornerback Antonio Hamilton, receiver Antoine Wesley and quarterback Colt McCoy to return from IR.
1 day ago
Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is tackled by Carolina Panthers defensive end Brian Burn...
Jordan Leandre

By the numbers: Arizona Cardinals’ consistently inconsistent offense

The Arizona Cardinals have the most consistently inconsistent offenses in football through the first four weeks of the season.
1 day ago
Cardinals GM: DL Zach Allen, J.J. Watt flashed as tandem vs. Raiders