2 Total Updates since December 14, 2009
over 3 years ago Update 0 comments
It’s clear they were looking past the 49ers and San Francisco came in hungry for a win. The Cardinals appeared flat, starting the game defensively with three penalties. Darnell Dockett forced an early interception but the Cardinals offense couldn’t get moving. The real story of the game was ball protection. The Cardinals fumbled the ball 5 times while Kurt Warner threw 2 interceptions.
The Cardinals offense was never in sync and turnovers really hurt this team like usual. It’s no secret that when the Cardinals turn the ball over more then their opponent, they lose. That’s what happened tonight when the Cardinals turned the ball over SEVEN TIMES, and it shouldn’t be a surprise they lost. Was it a surprise that they couldn’t get anything going and Kurt Warner’s 120+ QB rating games stopped at four? Yes. Fortunately Kurt Warner has a bad game every now and then and usually bounces back with dominating performances, which is good news with the Lions and Rams coming up.
over 3 years ago Update 0 comments
Alex Smith completed 19-of-35 passes for 144 yards with a pair of touchdowns and two interceptions for the 49ers (6-7), who bounced back from a 20-17 loss at Seattle. That trimmed Arizona’s (8-5) lead to two games over San Francisco in the division.
The story of the night, though, was San Francisco’s defense. The 49ers sacked Kurt Warner four times and picked him off twice. All 24 of their points came off Arizona miscues. Dashon Goldson had an interception and forced a pair of fumbles, while Ahmad Brooks recorded three of the sacks and two forced fumbles.
Warner finished 16-of-29 for 178 yards through the air for the defending NFC champions, who failed to build momentum from a 30-17 home win against the Minnesota Vikings. Arizona fumbled seven times, losing five of them.
Beanie Wells gained 79 yards on 15 carries and ran for a score in defeat.
To make matters worse, Cardinals star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald suffered a sprained right knee early in the third quarter, but he returned to the game later in the contest.
San Francisco’s opening possession to start the game ended in a turnover. The 49ers drove from their own 25 to the Arizona 40, but Darnell Dockett tipped a Smith pass near the line of scrimmage and came up with the ball. San Francisco challenged the call, thinking it was incomplete, as Dockett likely never had possession before recovering his own fumble. Replay officials confirmed the ruling on the field.
San Francisco had a successful challenge later in the quarter, leading to the game’s first points. Tim Hightower rushed for a four-yard gain to the Arizona 10 but lost the ball when he was hit by Goldson. Dre’ Bly picked up the loose ball and ran into the end zone, but the play was ruled down by contact, with Arizona maintaining possession. The challenge call changed that and gave the 49ers the ball at the eight.
Two plays later, with 3:53 remaining in the quarter, Smith connected with Vernon Davis in the end zone on a five-yard pass.
LaRod Stephens-Howling fumbled after making a reception on Arizona’s next drive, and Mark Roman recovered for the 49ers at the Cardinals’ 28. That led to Joe Nedney’s 37-yard field goal in the closing minute of the quarter.
The 49ers thwarted an Arizona drive early in the second when, Goldson came up with an interception at the 12.
Nedney was barely wide right on a 53-yard field goal try with just over four minutes left in the half, but the Cardinals gave the ball right back with their fourth turnover of the night – this time with Tarell Brown picking off Warner.
San Francisco embarked on an ensuing seven-play, 68-yard drive, finished by Smith’s 35-yard TD strike to Michael Crabtree with 52 seconds left in the half.
Arizona looked for a late first half score, but Warner was stripped of the football in the pocket by Ahmad Brooks, and Justin Smith recovered for the 49ers at the San Francisco 43 with seven seconds left in the half.
Neil Rackers kicked a 48-yard field goal with under six minutes left in the third quarter, and the Cardinals were in business again after an interception by Adrian Wilson, giving Arizona the ball at the San Francisco 43. On fourth down from the one, Wells plunged into the end zone off right guard, using a second effort to back into the end zone, 57 seconds into the final quarter.
Rackers’ extra point try was blocked by Ray McDonald, leaving the Cardinals behind, 17-9.
Wells accounted for the Cardinals’ sixth turnover of the night, as he was stripped of the ball by Goldson at the Arizona 16. Gore ran four straight times, including a two-yard power move up the middle behind blockers for a 24-9 difference with 9:22 left.
The final turnover by the Cardinals came when wide receiver Anquan Boldin was stripped of the football by Roman with under three minutes remaining.
The Cardinals play at Detroit Sunday, while the 49ers will be in Philadelphia…The seven turnovers ties Carolina for the most in the league this season for a single game…San Francisco has nine sacks in the last two games…Crabtree had five catches for 67 yards…Gore carried the ball 25 times…Fitzgerald went up to try and catch a long Warner pass early in the third quarter. Upon landing, Goldson came down on the wide receiver’s leg. Fitzgerald walked off the field and then to the locker room for X-rays, which turned up negative.
over 3 years ago Update 0 comments
Welcome to the NFC West in the 21st Century, where the Cardinals are playing to clinch the NFC West and the 49ers are fighting just to stay in contention. Read more about tonight's game at SB Nation's Revenge Of The Birds and Niners Nation
For their part, the Niners will be trying to prevent such a celebration from taking place, at least on their homefield.
Arizona, which expanded its lead in the NFC West to three games last week, can wrap up its second consecutive division title with a win in San Francisco. In addition to the division title, the defending NFC champs would be posting their first back-to-back winning seasons since 1982-83, and their first consecutive playoff appearances since 1974-75.
The Cardinals put themselves in position to party by taking down the Minnesota Vikings in impressive, 30-17 fashion last week. Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner was the star of show, completing 22-of-32 passes for 285 yards and three touchdowns to out-duel one of his few elders in the league, Brett Favre. Warner, who helped Larry Fitzgerald (8 receptions, 143 yards, 1 TD) and Anquan Boldin (7 receptions, 98 yards, 2 TD) to big nights, earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors for his efforts.
The Arizona defense was also impressive, holding a high-octane Vikings attack in check, and in particular causing misery for running back Adrian Peterson (13 carries, 19 yards).
The result came just hours after the Cardinals were done a major favor by the 49ers, who had hoped to make Monday night's game meaningful but ended up seeing their worst-case scenario unfold in Week 13.
San Francisco went to Seattle and dropped a disappointing 20-17 decision, wasting a career-high 310-yard passing performance from quarterback Alex Smith as well as five sacks from the 49ers defense.
The lack of a running game was part of the culprit in the defeat, as former Pro Bowler Frank Gore rushed just nine times for 25 yards and lost a critical fourth-quarter fumble.
After that insult was combined with the injury of a Cardinals win later that night, the 49ers dropped a cavernous three games behind Arizona in the NFC West, and even what would be a home-and-home sweep of the Cardinals would leave Mike Singletary's squad two games back with three to play.
The Niners were 20-16 winners at Arizona in Week 1.
San Francisco must go 3-1 over its final four games to avoid the franchise's seventh consecutive losing season.
San Francisco has a 20-16 lead in its all-time series with the Cardinals, including the aforementioned 20-16 victory when the teams met at University of Phoenix Stadium in Week 1. The Cardinals swept last year's home-and-home, with Arizona claiming a 23-13 decision in San Francisco in Week 1, and a 29-24 home result in Week 10 to complete the sweep. The Niners swept the 2007 home-and- home.
Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt is 2-3 against the 49ers as a head coach, while San Francisco's Singletary is 1-1 versus both Whisenhunt and the Cardinals as a head man.
WHEN THE CARDINALS HAVE THE BALL
It is safe to say that Warner (3003 passing yards, 23 TD, 11 INT), who last week stood in the pocket and delivered his fifth consecutive multi-touchdown game, is suffering few ill effects from the concussion that kept him out of the lineup against Tennessee in Week 12. The grizzled veteran went over 3,000 passing yards for the third straight season in the win, raising his passer rating on the year to a robust 97.0. Fitzgerald (83 receptions, 10 TD) and Boldin (63 receptions, 4 TD) accounted for 15 of Warner's 22 completions and all three of his touchdowns, as occasional 2009 targets Steve Breaston (44 receptions, 3 TD) and running back Tim Hightower (51 receptions, 535 rushing yards, 6 TD) both had quiet nights. Hightower had six carries for 50 yards in the game, helping to compensate for a rough outing by first-round draft choice Beanie Wells (517 rushing yards, 4 TD). Wells has carried 21 times for 48 yards over his past two games. Hightower had 12 catches for 121 yards against the 49ers in Week 1. The Cardinals did a good job of protecting Warner from the top-notch Vikings pass rush last week, not allowing the less-than-mobile veteran to be sacked despite the absence of left tackle Mike Gandy (pelvis), who is questionable for Monday.
Naturally, as it is with every opponent that faces the Cardinals, the big question for San Francisco will be how it will stop Fitzgerald, Boldin and the Arizona receivers, especially with top cornerback Nate Clements expected to miss another week with a shoulder problem. Corners Shawntae Spencer (44 tackles, 1 INT) and Tarell Brown (30 tackles, 1 INT) will likely have primary responsibility against the Arizona receivers, with safeties Michael Lewis (61 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) and Dashon Goldson (78 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 INT) helping out over the top. San Francisco intercepted Warner twice back in Week 1, including one for linebacker Patrick Willis (123 tackles, 3 sacks, 2 INT), but removing that performance and a five-INT effort against the Bears' Jay Cutler a few weeks back, San Francisco has totaled just four interceptions in its other 10 outings. An underrated 49ers pass rush, one that had five sacks of Matt Hasselbeck to raise its total to 30 for the season last week, could have more luck on Monday. Outside linebackers Manny Lawson (55 tackles, 5.5 sacks) and Parys Haralson (31 tackles. 4.5 sacks), each of whom had a takedown of Hasselbeck, are 1-2 on the team in sacks. The 49ers are fifth in NFL rushing defense (95.8 yards per game), with Willis serving among the league's best run- stuffers and end Justin Smith (43 tackles, 2.5 sacks) and tackle Aubrayo Franklin (28 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 INT) both active in the trenches.
WHEN THE 49ERS HAVE THE BALL
Though 49ers fans have to be pleasantly surprised at the way the former first- rounder Smith (1577 passing yards, 13 TD, 7 INT) has played this season, they have to be similarly discouraged about the regression of Gore (668 rushing yards, 41 receptions, 9 TD) and the San Francisco running game. The evolution of the San Francisco offense will be predicated on the ability of both modes of travel to complement one another. Smith has seven touchdown passes versus just one interception in his last three games, including last week's personal-best effort, but Gore has totaled just 117 rushing yards on 32 carries without a rushing touchdown over that span. Gore was limited to 30 yards on 22 totes but scored two touchdowns against the Cardinals in Week 1. When Smith throws it, he'll seek to locate tight end Vernon Davis (63 receptions), who is tied for the NFL lead in touchdown catches (10) along with Fitzgerald as Week 14 begins, and blossoming wideouts Michael Crabtree (32 receptions, 1 TD) and Josh Morgan (36 receptions, 2 TD). Davis, Crabtree, and Morgan had six catches each against the Seahawks last week, with Davis going over 100 yards and both he and Morgan finding the end zone. The offense should function at an all-around higher level if left tackle Joe Staley, who has missed the last five games with a knee injury, can return to prop up a line that has allowed 32 sacks this year. Staley is questionable for Monday.
Establishing Gore is going to be especially difficult against an Arizona defense that is brimming with confidence after completely shutting down Peterson last week. A run-stop unit that ranks a middle-of-the-pack 12th in the NFL (104.8 yards per game) has been led all year by nose tackle Darnell Dockett (43 tackles, 7 sacks), with linebackers Karlos Dansby (90 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) and Gerald Hayes (51 tackles) working well behind him. Dansby was among the Cardinals' defensive stars with eight tackles and an interception of Brett Favre last Sunday. The Arizona pass rush was also active in pursuit of Favre, with outside linebacker Bertrand Berry (9 tackles, 5 sacks) notching two of the club's three sacks of the veteran on the night. Despite ranking near the top of the league with 35 sacks and featuring playmakers such as cornerback Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie (39 tackles, 3 INT) and safeties Adrian Wilson (57 tackles, 3 INT) and Antrel Rolle (62 tackles, 4 INT, 1.5 sacks) in the secondary, Arizona ranks a disappointing 30th in NFL passing defense (257.8 yards per game) on the year, due in large part to the fact that the team had faced an NFL-high 466 pass attempts as Week 14 began.
Many first-round playoff games around fantasy nation will be settled based on this contest, particularly on the Arizona side of things. Warner, Fitzgerald, and Boldin are must-plays, and Breaston, Hightower, and Wells should get enough touches to be decent flex options. Kicker Neil Rackers and the Cardinals defense will contribute something to lineups, but are less attractive options.
For San Francisco, Davis has emerged into an elite-level fantasy tight end, and Crabtree is getting enough targets to be a good choice. Smith is a backup on many squads, and depending on your other matchups, might warrant playing since he figures to put the football in the air 40-plus times. Gore, on the other hand, is a riskier play than usual given how strong Arizona was against him earlier this year, and against Peterson last week.
The 49ers can point to a victory over the Cardinals this season, but that Week 1 result seems like it occurred eons ago. It was San Francisco that was a much different team back then, before Smith had taken over at quarterback, Davis had emerged as a Pro Bowl-level tight end, and well before Crabtree had signed. Yet somehow, the 49ers aren't better than the Cardinals anymore, even if they were then. Arizona has recovered from its Super Bowl hangover and doesn't look like a team that is about to be swept by a division rival, or one that looks like it will let an opportunity to wrap up the division pass by.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Cardinals 31, 49ers 17