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From the start, new season kicks off for area NFL product
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From the start, new season kicks off for area NFL product

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J.R. Sweezy

What upset?

If this was considered one, the National Football League member Arizona Cardinals might tend to disagree.

The Cardinals, the only NFL team with a native Mooresville product -- starting offensive lineman J.R. Sweezy – listed on their active roster, overcame an early 10-0 deficit and held on down the pivotal stretch to defeat the heavily favored National Football Conference West Division rival San Francisco 49’ers, 24-20.

Bagging the franchise’s first win in the month of September since the 2017 season, Arizona used the somewhat surprising 1-0 start by knocking off the defending West Division champions also rated by most to be the favorite to repeat that feat to celebrate its season-opening homecoming game to kickoff later this weekend.

Twice, the Cardinals – winners of eight games total over the past two seasons combined – fought their way back from as many fourth-quarter deficits to garner the win. Arizona withstood the 49’ers own comeback attempt late in regulation play to prevail.

In the case of Mooresville’s Sweezy, the former Mooresville High School and N.C. State University defensive player – also a heavyweight class wrestling champion during his multi-sport prep career -- was a constant presence throughout the time when his team was in possession of the football. The Cardinals’ second-season starting offensive right guard logged in all 82 of the  team’s offensive snaps that were used to mark the beginning of his 10th season in the NFL. He was part of an offensive effort that keyed the successful second-half comeback effort.

A seventh-round selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-5 and 310-pound Sweezy garnered the 105th starting assignment of his professional football career. Prior to arriving at Arizona, the lineman has also served two separate stints as a member of the Seattle Seahawks – the organization that also initially picked him in the draft – as well as one tour with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It was during his first phase of his career spent in Seattle when he was part of two teams that made it as far as the NFL Super Bowl. The 2013-14 edition of the Seahawks emerged as Super Bowl champions.

He signed a two-year contract as an unrestricted free agent in mid-March of 2019 to join his current Cardinals crew.

The favorable verdict on the part of Arizona was just its fourth win during the opening month of the season since the 2016 season combined. The outcome was also rendered on the homefield of a San Fran entry expected by many to successfully defend its NFC West Division championship status from one season ago.

Play in the game was held, as was the case practically across the league, in front of empty bleachers in place inside the 49’ers home Levi’s Stadium due to restrictions in place caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Making matters even more of a struggle on the part of the players, the air quality surrounding the site was filled with smoke caused by the abundance of the area’s still-burning wildfires.

Coupling the successful season-opening start overall along with the fact that the decision also took place within crucial same-division ranks, unbeaten Arizona now heads home to its own State Farm Stadium to face the Washington Football Team on Sunday afternoon.

This season’s schedule also calls for the Cardinals to make an appearance as close as possible to team member Sweezy’s hometown. Arizona is on tap to visit the Carolina Panthers on Oct. 4 for another 1 p.m. start to take place at Bank of America Stadium.

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