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Chandler Jones Sets Franchise Record For Sacks

Posted Dec 31, 2017

Jones, Olsen Pierre finish season impressively in win over Seahawks

Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones celebrates his first of two sacks.

SEATTLE – History was in Chandler Jones’ grasp, but so was Russell Wilson’s facemask.

The Cardinals’ outside linebacker blew a chance to set a franchise-record for sacks in a season in the first half on Sunday, when his takedown of the Seahawks quarterback was nullified by penalty.

But Jones’ fairytale season would not be tarnished with a down ending. Jones bounced back with a sack of Wilson in the third quarter, which gave him 17 on the season. It surpassed Simeon Rice’s team record of 16½ set in 1999 and gave him the NFL’s sack crown.

“He was being held the whole game, but he finally got there,” coach Bruce Arians said. “That was fantastic.”

Jones entered the game needing a pair of sacks to pass Rice. He got the first one early on, swooping inside on his pass-rush to bring down Wilson.

He looked to have the record in the second quarter, when the ball popped from Wilson’s grasp as Jones grabbed him. But the facemask canceled out a holding penalty, which forced a re-do of the down.

“I knew I face-masked him and I tried to let him go fast,” Jones said. “They caught me. … But I knew we had some time left on the clock.”

Jones set the record on a third-and-3, corralling Wilson as he attempted to escape the pocket. It wrapped up one of the most impressive defensive seasons in Cardinals history. Jones signed a lucrative five-year contract extension this offseason and more than lived up to his end of the bargain.

He said leading the NFL in sacks was a goal. Now, “we’ll have to get back to the goal sheet and make some more goals,” Jones said.

Jones was dominant, and he wasn’t the only one doing damage.

Olsen Pierre was a menace, finishing with four tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and two tackles for loss. He finished the season with 5½ sacks.

“The young guy has become one heck of a player,” Arians said. “He’s got length. He’s got quickness. He’s got a great future.”

Pierre nearly had another sack in the first half but Wilson scrambled for a 1-yard gain on a third down. The Cardinals kept him on the active roster all last season as a redshirt because they saw potential in Pierre, and now it’s shining through.

“I hadn’t played like in two years,” Pierre said. “I was waiting for my opportunity. Coach B.A. gave me my opportunity. Mr. (Steve) Keim gave me my opportunity. I just wanted to play for the team and go hard. I love it here.”

Robert Nkemdiche also showed up, registering a pair of tackles and a quarterback hit. He forced a fumble in the third quarter by flying into the backfield and tackling Wilson as he was handing the ball off. It was the second straight positive performance from Nkemdiche, who returned a fumble for a touchdown in Week 16 against the Giants.

The defensive front lost Calais Campbell in free agency this offseason but played well down the stretch, and most of the players are under contract for 2018.

“We got Robert, we got Rodney (Gunter), we got Xavier (Williams),” Pierre said. “Hopefully my guy Frostee (Rucker) comes back. We did good this year. People may say we didn’t, but we were top-five in everything. We got sacks. We got all that.”

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