Game rewind: Cardinals 17, 49ers 10
THE HERO Needing a big play to win the game, the Cardinals put the ball in the hands of their top playmaker, and Anquan Boldin did the rest. Taking a simple dump-off pass on a third-and-20 play, Boldin rambled 54 tackle-breaking yards for the winning touchdown with 10:45 remaining to play, the signature play of an outstanding afternoon during which Boldin recorded a career-high 11 receptions for 156 yards. THE GOAT Mike Nolan can blame the referees for not helping him out, but it's his job to know that calling a timeout means calling a timeout and throwing the red flag also can mean calling a timeout. When the 49ers burned two time outs on Nolan's gaffe after Frank Gore fumbled with 11:28 remaining, you could just see the air go out of the deflated Niners, who continued to plummet the remainder of the game. It was a bad challenge to begin with, since Gore's fumble was rather obvious. Gore gets some special mention here for the fumble that created the situation in the first place. KEY STAT Arizona wideouts Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald both went over 100 yards receiving and combined for 19 receptions for 285 yards as 339 of Arizona's 404 net yards and 14 of the Cardinals' 18 first downs came through the air. THE TURNING POINT Keith Lewis had just intercepted Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner with 11:40 to play, setting up the Niners near midfield with a 10-9 lead. But on the next play, Gore took a handoff to the left side and – as he attempted to lunge for yardage – fumbled the ball away before he hit the ground. The turnover began a succession of errors to the finish for the 49ers. THE BIG PLAY After Gore's fumble, a resilient San Francisco defense got tough again, and the Cardinals faced a third-and-20 situation from their own 46-yard line. Warner, facing heavy pressure, dumped off a short pass to Boldin, who caught the ball at the Arizona 48 in front of several on-rushing defenders. Boldin cut back from left to right and broke tackle attempts by linebackers Brandon Moore and Julian Peterson, cornerbacks Bruce Thornton and Shawntae Spencer and safeties Ben Emanuel and Mike Adams to complete a stunning 54-yard touchdown play that proved to be the difference in the game. STANDOUT PERFORMER Warner improved to 6-0 as a starting quarterback against the 49ers, shaking off two interceptions to finish with 354 yards passing on 29 completions in 45 attempts, including the game-winning touchdown throw to Boldin. Warner got the ball to his big-play receivers all afternoon and became the sixth quarterback this season to throw for 300 or more yards against the 49ers. BY THE NUMBERS minus-4: Net yards gained by 49ers on their only scoring drive of the third quarter, which resulted in Joe Nedney's 48-yard field goal minus-3: Net passing yards for 49ers in third quarter 0: Touchdown passes thrown this season for 49ers' quarterback Alex Smith 2: Sacks by 49ers' linebacker Brandon Moore 2.6: Average gain per rush by 49ers, who finished with 51 yards on 20 carries 2.8: Average gain per rush by Cardinals, who finished with 65 yards on 23 carries 3: Total interceptions by Cardinals' defense, which had six interceptions in Arizona's first 11 games 4: Games this season in which the 49ers have had one defender with two or more sacks 7: First-half receptions by Cardinals' wideout Anquan Boldin 8: Total interceptions thrown this season by Smith 9: Offensive series in which the 49ers gained 23 yards or fewer 10: Total yards of offense in third quarter for 49ers 11: Total of 1,000-yard receivers in Arizona history after Larry Fitzgerald passed that barrier Sunday 17: Third-down efficiency percentage for Cardinals in first half, when they converted one of their six third-down plays 22: Third-down efficiency percentage for 49ers in game, when they converted two of their nine third-down plays 50.2: Quarterback rating for Smith at end of game 60: Total yards of offense by 49ers in second half 69.7: Quarterback rating for the Cardinals' Kurt Warner at halftime 80: Total yards in penalties by Cardinals, who were flagged 11 times 91.6: Completion percentage for Smith at halftime 114.6: Quarterback rating for Smith at halftime 129: Total receiving yards by Fitzgerald, on eight receptions 138: Passing yards at halftime for 49ers 143: Total yards of offense in third quarter for Cardinals 156: Total receiving yards by Boldin, on a career-high 11 receptions 169: Total net yards passing for 49ers in game 220: Total yards of offense by 49ers, the ninth time this season San Francisco has been limited to 220 yards or fewer 404: Total yards of offense by the Cardinals, the seventh time this season the 49ers' defense has allowed 400 or more yards in a game FAST FACTS --- The Cardinals swept the season series between the two teams for the first time since moving into the NFC West in 2002. The 49ers still hold a 17-12 lead in the all-time series and have won eight of the last 11 meetings. The Cardinals beat the 49ers 31-14 earlier this season, scoring the final 31 points of the game for the victory in Mexico City. --- With a game-high 11 tackles, 49ers linebacker Derek Smith passed the 100-tackle mark for the ninth consecutive year to begin his career. Only Miami's Zach Thomas, who already has stretched his streak to 10 years this season, has a longer active streak in the NFL. Tampa Bay's Derrick Brooks had a streak of nine consecutive 100-tackle seasons entering this year but he has yet to hit the century mark this season. Smith now has 10 or more tackles in eight of San Francisco's 12 games this season and in 49 of his 90 career games. --- Second-year 49ers safety Keith Lewis is the first player to have a blocked punt and an interception in the same game since Baltimore's Ed Reed did it against the Cardinals during the 2003 season. --- Joe Nedney returned to action after missing last week's game and kicked a 48-yard field goal, making him 8 of 8 this season on field-goal attempts between 40-49 yards. --- All 10 of the rookies from the 49ers' 2005 draft class were active in a game for the first time this season. Fifth-round defensive tackle Ronnie Fields was the only member of that group who didn't play Sunday. --- Of those 10 rookies, quarterback Alex Smith, right guard David Baas, left tackle Adam Snyder and nickel back Derrick Johnson each were in the starting lineup. --- When the 49ers stopped Arizona at the San Francisco 12-yard line after the Cardinals' 14-play drive on their first possession, forcing Arizona to settle for Nick Novak's 30-yard field goal, it kept the Cardinals as the only team in the NFL this season not to score a touchdown in the first quarter. --- The 49ers had five changes in their regular starting lineup. Maurice Hicks started at halfback in place of Kevan Barlow, Johnnie Morton started at flanker in place of Arnaz Battle, Anthony Adams started at nose tackle in place of Isaac Sopoaga, Travis Hall started at left defensive end in place of Adams and Chris Hetherington started at fullback in place of Fred Beasley, who was inactive for the third consecutive week. Alex Smith also started at quarterback in place of Ken Dorsey after missing the past five games, but Smith was considered the starter before he was injured. --- Inactive for the 49ers on Sunday were: Beasley, Barlow, Battle, kicker Jose Cortez, cornerback Ahmed Plummer and defensive end Bryant Young. Cody Pickett was designated as San Francisco's third quarterback.
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