Cardinals’ J.J. Watt notches 2 sacks, receives standing ovation in final NFL game

Jan 8, 2023, 6:23 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2023, 7:33 am

Arizona Cardinals defensive end J.J. Watt made himself right at home early on against the San Francisco 49ers in his first and final game at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday.

Registering two sacks in the last NFL game of his career, Watt was among the lone bright spots in a disappointing 38-13 finish to Arizona’s season.

After the two sides traded opening-drive touchdowns to kick things off on Sunday, Watt was able to get to 49ers QB and Arizona native Brock Purdy for the six-yard sack.

The sack turned a second-and-nine look into a third-and-15 that the 49ers failed to convert.

Two quarters later, he would notch his second of the game — and final of his career on a second-and-seven look.

Aside from the two takedowns, Watt also registered three tackles for loss, two QB hits and pass defensed.

“I want to go out there and enjoy it,” Watt said Friday of his final NFL game. “I want to enjoy the time with my teammates. I’m trying to win a game. It’s not like a purely sentimental emotional thing. We’re trying to win a game. We’re trying to play good football.

“I’m looking forward to enjoying it with my teammates and having a blast. Then afterwards, I’ll look back and appreciate it and be thankful for it all.”

Even before Sunday’s showing, it had already been a season to remember for Watt, who heads for retirement after 12 NFL seasons. Hearing opposing fans chant his name and give him a standing ovation near the end of the contest, made things that much more special.

“I want to thank the 49ers, that was very classy, and their fans,” Watt told reporters postgame. “You don’t have to do that for an opposing player in your stadium when you’re going to the playoffs. I appreciate them doing that. That was better than I could have expected it to be certainly for that standpoint.

“I had my wife and parents here, had my son here. I wish the game had gone differently in many ways, but I’m thankful and grateful. I’ll always remember it, that’s for sure.”

Entering Week 18, Watt had amassed 10.5 sacks, the most since 2018 (16), to go along with 15 tackles for loss, 23 QB hits, six passes defensed and a forced fumble.

The lineman wasn’t the only Cardinals player to get home on Sunday, either, with star backer Isaiah Simmons and Cameron Thomas also recording a sack each.

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