The Arizona Cardinals entered the game without allowing a single sack all preseason.
That all changed in a dominant play by a future Hall-of-Famer.
Freeney burst off the line of scrimmage, and before the opposing left tackle, Levi Brown, could get his hands on him, he unleashed his patented spin move, rendering the Cardinal helpless. In fact, Brown ended up on his backside as Freeney closed in on Palmer in an instant and brought the Cardinals quarterback to the ground for a nine-yard sack.
“It felt great to get that sack,” he said after the game. “You’d love to have them count in the regular season, but they all mean something. And this one, it really did feel good to get it. It feels great whenever you do a move. When you do a good move, one that you’ve been practicing and repping it and then you do it in a game, it’s the greatest feeling in the world.”
More than just being a sack master, Freeney has quickly established himself as a leader on defense. Immediately after the game while he got dressed at his locker, he was busy giving advice and pointers to any defender around him.
“It’s something I’ve got to do,” he said. “I’ve got to stay engaged and help the young guys out. There are guys who haven’t been around for so long, so I take my knowledge and share it. That’s what I do.”
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s just awesome. To know the guy, Dwight is a great teammate who is so passionate. You understand why guys play for so long and are great at their position. He epitomizes that. His knowledge of the game and the way he comes to work, he’s special. And to see him, it brings up everyone else’s level knowing how he can change the game within one play. And we’re glad to have him. He’s going to make some special plays this year.”
“The things people always want to know is did he get any sacks, and obviously he got one tonight, but even if he didn’t, that doesn’t mean he didn’t have a big effect on the game,” Rivers said. “He’s always a presence. He’s always pushing the pocket. And he’s one of the best that has ever played for a reason as far as what he can do. He can change the game in a single play, so he commands a lot of respect from the offense. I’m glad he’s on our side. I told him it’s good to see him get the sack and do his little celebration. I’ve seen it from my back before, so I’d never seen it standing up. I was liking it!”
So what exactly is the celebration Rivers is referring to?
“What it is is I hit my heart twice for my family and friends and the fans,” Freeney said with a smile. “Then I salute you.”
That celebration is one Chargers fans hope to see many times over in 2013.