SFI's LIVE Game Blog: 49ers vs. Cardinals

The 49ers attempt to avoid matching the longest losing streak in the franchise's 62-year history when they take their eight-game slide into Arizona today to face the Cardinals, and SFI will keep you up to date on the action with live reports and commentary from University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. Make sure to refresh this page every 15 minutes for running updates throughout the game.

2:01 p.m.: Greetings, 49ers fans. Did you know that today's starting quarterbacks here in the Arizona desert once won back-to-back Super Bowls. Thought we'd throw that out there to add a little juice to this Kurt Warner/Trent Dilfer matchup, now a battle of second-choice, past-their-prime QBs …

2:03: The Cardinals win the coin toss. It will be Warner and the NFL's 19th-ranked offense up first. That's 13 places ahead of San Francisco in those rankings, by the way. After last week's valiant effort against St. Louis, the 49ers' defense is now up to 19th in the league rankings, which sets up, on paper, an even matchup …

2:13: And look at that. The Cardinals go right down the field like it's a joke. Starting back at their 8-yard line after a penalty on the opening kickoff, Arizona rolls 92 yards in eight plays with Warner completing four passes to three different receivers to do most of the damage. The first completion goes to Anquan Boldin for 18 yards on Arizona's first offensive play to get the Cards out of the hole, the next is a third-and-8 strike to Bryant Johnson for 16 yards to keep chains moving, then the next to go for 17 and 28 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, the latter of which goes for the touchdown as Nate Clements gets lost along the right sideline and lets Fitzgerald streak by him to get wide open in the end zone. Sheez. Now even the 49ers' best players are looking bad. What a crummy start for the San Fran D, just like last week against St. Louis …
Cardinals 7, 49ers 0

2:19: Wow, this looks familiar. A three-and-out by the San Francisco offense to start the game - the 49ers' NFL-worst 42nd third-and-out this season. The 49ers begin the game with a seven-yard pass from Dilfer to Darrell Jackson, then face a third-and-1 after Frank Gore goes for two yards on second down. But Jackson can't handle a short pass from Dilfer on third down that would have easily moved the chains. Somebody check that guy's hands. Oh, wait …

2:28: The San Francisco defense gets tough and forces a punt. But Gore, while getting dragged down after turning a short pass into a first down, has his sore right ankle twisted awkwardly underneath him as he lands, and it does not look good. Gore can't put any weight on his right leg as he gets up. This does not look good. And, oh, after Gore picks up that initial first down, the 49ers punt four plays later after Dilfer overthrows Arnaz Battle on third-and-3 …

2:32: But hey! There's a big play by the San Francisco defense the next time Arizona touches the ball. On first down from his own 15, Warner drops back and tries to find Fitzgerald on an inside route, but cornerback Walt Harris reads it all the way and steps in front of Fitzgerald to make his second interception of the season. That looked an awful lot like Harris' first interception of the season, when he also stepped in front of Fitzgerald on a similar route in the season opener. Matt Leinart was the Arizona quarterback that time. My, that seems like a long time ago. Now the 49ers' offense is set up in prime position with a first down at the Arizona 32. Can that beleaguered unit do anything with it? …

2:39: Yes, it can! The 49ers finally look like an offense again while assembling their first touchdown drive in 12 long quarters. Dilfer makes a big play on third-and-8, scrambling up the middle and diving forward in front of onrushing defenders to pick up 10 yards and the first down. Dilfer is sacked on the next play, but Gore - back in the game quickly after shaking off his twisted ankle - turns a short pass into a 12-yard gain on third-and-11. And then, instead of bogging down like usual inside the 10, Dilfer hits Vernon Davis for seven yards on first down, then finds Davis in the right corner of the end zone on the next play with a perfectly-threaded pass for a 2-yard score. TOUCHDOWN, 49ers! Man, it feels good to be able to write that. It has been quite a while …
Cardinals 7, 49ers 7

2:46: The San Fran defense is all over Warner on the next series, hitting him hard on second-down incompletion, which leads to a quick three-and-out. And then, on the ensuing punt, returner Michael Lewis takes Mike Barr's kick on the run, and there he goes down the right side. Lewis finds and opening and he's free down the sideline! He makes a nice cutback near the Arizona 30 and tacks on even more yardage before he is finally brought down at the Arizona 19 after a 51-yard return - the 49ers' longest play of any kind this season. Wow! The 49ers are looking like a team all of a sudden. And now they're back in business with a chance to take their first lead since way back in the Nov. 4 Atlanta game …

2:51: The 49ers take it to a third-and-goal at the 1, but opt for a slant to Ashley Lelie on that play that goes incomplete. Oh, well. Joe Nedney comes in to kick a 19-yard field goal and, believe it, the 49ers are in the lead. Haven't been able to say that for a while …
49ers 10, Cardinals 7

2:56: And look at that! On the first play after the Cards get the ball back, Warner hits Boldin on a slant and it's going for a first down. But Clements, beaten off the line on the play, punches the ball out! It goes flying upfield, where safety Mark Roman picks it up in 49ers territory. And now Roman is on the move down the right side! Roman returns it 43 yards to the Arizona 6! Don't look now, but the 49ers are taking this game over. Where has this team been for the past two months …

2:59: OK, got ahead and look. It's safe now. The 49ers don't squander this opportunity to hit paydirt again. Warner is sacked for a five-yard loss on first down, but then the 49ers call a very nice draw play on second-and-goal from the 11, and Gore bursts past the line and into the open. Nearing the goal line, he embarrasses safety Terrence Holt with a stutter-step moving that leaves Holt flailing. Gore strolls into the end zone to complete the 11-yard scoring run, and after Nedney hits the PAT, it's a 10-point lead for the 49ers, a cushion they haven't enjoyed in a long, long time …
49ers 17, Cardinals 7

3:06: But it's not like the 49ers can start getting comfortable as they give back seven points pretty quickly. Steve Breaston returns the ensuing kickoff 37 yards, and the Cardinals assemble a quick seven-play, 59-yard scoring drive. That was quite an answer by Arizona, which has pulled back some of that lost momentum …
49ers 17, Cardinals 14

3:19: The Arizona defense forces a quick punt, but the 49ers respond by doing the same. There's a penalty on the Cards on the punt, and it will be a re-kick that will give the 49ers good field position for the final two minutes. But wait! Marcus Hudson runs into Barr on re-kick, and he's called for roughing the kicker. The Cards will get the ball back, and there's a prime opportunity missed by the 49ers to assume command heading into the locker room at halftime …

3:26: But as the Cards try to get moving, Roderick Green charges in from the left side and dumps Warner hard for a 11-yard loss back to the 32. And then, on third-and-long, Warner tries to go deep over the middle to extend the drive. But Harris gets in front of Fitzgerald again! It's another pick!!. Nice play by Harris. Now the 49ers have 55 seconds left in the half with the ball at the Arizona 41, with a chance to add to their lead before the second quarter expires …

3:31: The 49ers get the ball down to the Arizona 38, but they are out of timeouts with 11 seconds left. Nedney easily drilled a 55-yard field goal in pre-game warmups, and this is a 55-yarder that's definitely a kick he can make. But it hooks off his foot and tails off to the left badly. It's just Nedney's second miss of the season as the 49ers can't add to their lead. Arizona will have the ball at its own 45 for one final shot before the half …

3:36: Can you frickin' believe this?!! The Cards get a short completion and then get out of bounds with two ticks on the clock to get off one final play. Warner is going for the Hail Mary here, and he is being chased around in the backfield. He unloads a pass into the right side of the end zone … it's coming down … and … Unbelievable!! Fitzgerald times his jump perfectly and grabs the ball with his hands in the air with Harris, Clements and safety Michael Lewis surrounding him. It's a touchdown! Holy moly. The 49ers give that up? Sheez. It's a 48-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the half, and just like that, Arizona goes into the locker room at halftime with the lead. Unbeliev … Well, you've heard it already …
Cardinals 21, 49ers 17

3:47: The big play at the end of the half allows Arizona to have a 244-137 edge in total yards at the intermission, but the 49ers limited the Cards to just one conversion on five third-down attempts. And with 10 first downs and 17 points on the board, the San Francisco offense is showing some definite progress against the NFL's 11-ranked offense. The 49ers, mind you, haven't scored 17 points in an entire GAME since beating the Rams 17-16 way back on Sept. 16. San Francisco gets the ball first to begin the second half, so let's see if the Niners can get back some of that momentum …

3:54: Well, so much for that. But you've gotta give one to the Niners for trying. They get the ball out to midfield, but come up short on third-and-five. In punt formation, up back Michael Robinson takes the snap, and he has room on the right side. But as he turns the corner, with plenty of room to pick up the first down, Robinson steps out of bounds! His right foot grazes the white chalk a yard short of the first down. What a missed opportunity! And now Arizona takes over at its own 46 …

4:03: But it's a nice stand by the San Francisco defense. After the Cards roll into San Francisco territory, safety Lewis rocks Warner for another sack, and the ball shakes loose on the play. Linebacker Patrick Willis runs right past the ball as he tries to pick it up and the Cards recover. But the drive is doomed, even though the Cards get a lot of yardage back with a third-and-19 completion. Slightly out of field-goal range, Arizona lines up to go for it on fourth-and-6, but there's a delay of game as the ball is snapped wildly, and Warner is shaken up on the resulting free-for-all for the football, which all happens after the whistle already has blown the play dead. After the penalty, the Cards feel fortunate to be able to punt the ball away …

4:08: The Niners start their next drive deep in Arizona territory at the 12. But look at this. Dilfer comes out throwing, and he hits a wide-open Davis for 26 yards over the middle to start the drive. But two runs by Gore net just five yards, and it's third-and-5 as Dilfer sets up in the shotgun. Dilfer zips a quick pass to Battle, who beyond the first-down marker on the right side. Battle makes the catch as Antrel Rolle goes for the ball and misses. Battle pivots, and there's room to roam in front of him! Battle makes a nice move, and there he goes! He puts another move safety Oliver Celestin, who gets spinned around and whiffs, and Battle is off down the right sideline. He could go! Cornerback Ralph Brown arrives late and Battle vaults from the 4-yard line and dives into the end zone for the touchdown!! It's a 57-yard touchdown strike, giving the 49ers a new longest play of the season for the second time in two hours. And, after Nedney adds the extra point, the 49ers have their highest point total of the season with six minutes still remaining in the third quarter. Where has this offense been the past two months? For a moment, at least, it makes you think what might have been this season …
49ers 24, Cardinals 21

4:22: It's another nice stand by the San Francisco defense. Warner moves the Cards past midfield again, but he is being pressured relentlessly and maybe starting to get a little gun shy. Roman makes a nice play on a third-down completion to force a fourth down, but the Cards go for it and make it at midfield. But then the defense stiffens, with Clements having blanket coverage on Fitzgerald down the left sideline on fourth-and-6. Great defense, and now the 49ers get the ball back as the fourth quarter begins …

4:29: The 49ers already have 253 yards entering the fourth quarter, but it's the weakest effort by the San Fran offense in a while as the 49ers go three-and-out and give the ball right back to Arizona …

4:36: This time, the Cardinals know what to do with it. They roll down the field until they Niners get tough near the goal line, forcing a fourth-and-1 from the 2. With 10 minutes remaining to play, the Cards send in former 49er Tim Rattay and decide to go for it. Big play upcoming here. But Rattay doesn't like what he sees and calls a timeout. After the break, the Cards are still going for it. Rattay makes a nice play-action fake and throws into the end zone. Reserve tight end Ben Patrick runs a drag across the end zone, but Clements is right with him. Rattay puts the ball up there, and Patrick grabs it over Clements!! Clements was right there to make a play on the ball - and leave the Cards with nothing to show for the drive - but he can't get his hand on it and Patrick makes the catch for the go-ahead touchdown. That one was tough. The defense was in position to make a huge play but couldn't do it. The lead goes back to Arizona in this seesaw battle …
Cardinals 28, 49ers 24

4:48: With a determined Gore running like he won't be stopped - both on running plays and after taking short passes - the 49ers quickly move into Arizona territory and look ready to strike. Facing a third-and-1 at the 27 after Gore is just stopped short the play before, the 49ers go to a quick slant to Battle, who has the ball in his hands but has it stripped away by cornerback Rod Hood as he attempts to gain control. Why not just run it right at the tiring Arizona defense?? That's what the 49ers do on fourth-and-1, but it's too late. Everybody knows what's coming, and Gore is stuffed in the backfield and the ball goes back to the Cards. Sheez! The San Francisco offense reverted to form there. Bad form, that is …

4:53: But the San Francisco defense holds again, and after a nice return by Michael Lewis, the 49ers start their next drive at their own 30 with 4:33 to play …

4:58: And here it is, the two-minute warning, and the 49ers have moved the ball to the Arizona 40. Can the offense pull this one out and win a game for once? We're about to see right here. For once, the Niners have all three of their timeouts remaining at the end of the game, too. It all comes down to this, with the 49ers needing a touchdown or bust …

5:00: And there it is! Gore, following some big blocks on the right side by guard David Baas and tackle Joe Staley, slips through a hole … and he's gone! Turning on the afterburners, Gore bursts down the right side and nobody's going to catch him. Gore goes 35 untouched yards to paydirt for a stunning touchdown run! WHAT A PLAY! And just like that, the 49ers have the lead back with 1:15 to play. But did they score too soon? Now it's the San Francisco defense that has a chance to come up big and nail down the victory …
49ers 31, Cardinals 28

5:12: If you follow the 49ers, this just makes you absolutely sick. Warner takes the Cardinals right down the field, and with time running out, hits Johnson down the right sideline for a big gain down to the 1-yard line. Johnson catches it as he's being pushed out of bounds, and the Cards have a first down about two feet from the end zone. But after an officials' review, there are only six seconds left, so Arizona has a decision to make. Go for it or kick the field goal? That play coming up after the 49ers take a timeout as the Cards come to the line …

5:14: BIG PLAY BY DONALD STRICKLAND!! The Cards indeed do go for it, and with Boldin and Fitzgerald lined up on the left side, Warner takes the snap and turns to the right, lofting a perfect pass to Johnson, who is one-on-one with Strickland. Johnson goes up for the grab and the ball is right in his hands, but Strickland knocks the ball out as the two players fall from the sky. No touchdown! The 49ers hold! But there are still two seconds on the clock for Arizona to attempt a game-tying field goal …

5:16: After 49ers coach Mike Nolan charges onto the field to call a timeout, the Cards lineup for the field goal and Neil Rackers drills a 19-yarder as the clock hits :00. It's on to overtime, folks …
49ers 31, Cardinals 31

5:18: The captains come out to the middle of the field, and Dilfer calls heads. The overtime coin toss comes down tails. Yikes! Arizona gets the ball first. The defense has to answer this time …

5:27: Great job by the San Francisco defense! It starts off ominously for the 49ers as Roman is called for a facemask penalty that kick-starts the first drive of overtime. But after the Cards approach midfield, the Niners stop the Cards a full yard short on a third-down pass, and the Cards have to punt. Barr shanks it! Instead of starting in the shadow of their own goal line, the 49ers will start at their own 32 …

5:30: But the Niners do nothing with it and it's a quick three-and-out. Ball back to Arizona. Lee booms a 50-yarder, and a good return by Breaston is nullified by a penalty. Arizona starts its second drive of overtime pushed back at its own 8-yard line …

5:34: And there's the killer. After the 49ers burn their second timeout of overtime on defense, Strickland and safety Keith Lewis run into each other on a short pass in the flat to receiver Sean Morey - Sean who? - and Morey turns the corner with nobody in front of him. It's a foot race, and Morey could go all the way. But no. Patrick Willis runs him down after a 62-yard gain, but it doesn't seem to matter. The Cards are well within game-winning field-goal range now.

5:39: The Cardinals churn forward for more yardage to position Rackers in the middle of the field. With Arizona at the San Francisco 9, Rackers comes in for a gimme 27-yarder, and he drills it. But wait. There's a flag on the field. It's delay of game on the Cards! They'll have to kick it again. But still, no reason to get too excited. It's a 32-yard attempt for Rackers now, and he's staring right into the middle of the uprights …

5:40: You can get excited now. Rackers misses the kick. HE MISSES THE KICK!! From 32 yards out! He pushes it to the left and it hooks just outside the left upright. Unbelievable! That's a gimme kick, but no!! The 49ers still are alive! What a break …

5:44: The 49ers, starting at their own 24, quickly get up to the 41 after Rolle is flagged for pass interference on Lelie, who ran a nice stop-and-go pattern and might have been gone had he not been interfered with and caught up to Dilfer's pass. But the drive stalls there after Dilfer is sacked for a seven-yard loss on second-and-5. Ball back to Arizona again …

5:46: Lee blasts a 59-yard punt from his own 39, and Breaston makes a gaffe when he fields it at the 2 instead of letting it sail into the end zone. He returns it 13 yards to the 15, but Patrick is called for an illegal block above the waist on the return. The penalty is enforced at the 6, so the Cards are pushed half the way back to their own goal line and will start at the 3. Let's see if the San Francisco defense can't turn up the pressure here …

5:47: Yes! Yes!! YES!! On first down, Warner drops back in the end zone, and he's quickly swarmed by Tully Banta-Cain from the right side. Trying to evade Banta-Cain, Warner slips to his right where he is met by a hard-charging Ronnie Fields, who has Warner in his grasp! It's a safety! No, EVEN BETTER! Fields knocks the ball away from Warner's hands and there it is, the game loose on the end zone turf. Banta-Cain falls on it. THAT'S IT! What a stunning end! Touchdown, 49ers! And with it, game 49ers! Just like that, it's a hard-fought victory in overtime, the first time San Francisco has tasted victory in 10 excruciatingly long weeks. But just the same, it's sweet. And there goes that nasty eight-game losing streak that had threatened to turn the franchise upside down …
Final score: 49ers 37, Cardinals 31

Make sure to check back with sfillustrated.com later this afternoon and evening for full post-game coverage, analysis and comments from the San Francisco locker room, and then check back throughout the week for daily coverage of the team and NFL as the 49ers look to finish the season strong and build momentum on this amazing, comeback, overtime victory in which the Niners produced their highest point total in a game since 2003.



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