One of the last things a dedicated NFL fan would have figured is that the San Francisco 49ers would play inspired football against the NFC West Division leading Arizona Cardinals today. After all, the Niners were sitting on a 3-7 record before the start of play today, including a road loss to Arizona (8-2) by the score of 47-7. Yet that is exactly what happened. San Francisco was inspired on both sides of the ball, offense and defense, and at the end of the game Arizona just squeaked out a win 19-13.
Before one flies off the handle and says that the Cardinals did not take the game seriously, I must point out that it was the first game that Arizona has won on San Francisco in over 2000 days, which dates back to the 2008 season. The game-winning touchdown was run into the end zone by Carson Palmer, his first touchdown run since 2012. Yet San Francisco fans could gripe that the referees called too many phantom penalties on their team during the Cardinals’ final march to win the game. The one call that really comes to mind is when on third and long Palmer was sacked soundly by Quinton Dial (whose helmet appeared to tap Palmer’s helmet) and a penalty was called on San Francisco for roughing the passer. That call changed the outcome of the game, for sure. Now instead of having to punt, the Cardinals got a 15 yard penalty to their benefit plus a first down instead of what looked to be a great sack against them.
San Francisco quarterback Blaine Gabbert had an effective game, throwing for a career high 318 yards with a touchdown. Yet he made a critical mistake with 40 seconds left in the game, allowing himself to be sacked, which resulted in a 4th down and 20 play which was too much for him to overcome (he gained 18 yards), The Cardinals took over with 47 seconds to go, and Palmer knelt down twice to end the game.
This was the Cardinals first ugly win of the season, yet a win is a win. The Cardinals (9-2) travel to the St Louis Rams (4-7) to play another Division rival next Sunday, while the improving 49ers (3-8) visit the Chicago Bears (5-6) on the same day.