The Arizona Cardinals were back in the nest for the second time in six days, defeating to the San Francisco 49ers 18-15 in overtime Sunday afternoon at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale. With the win the Cards improve to 2-2. The Niners fall to 0-4.
Here are five things we learned.
Survive and Advance…You’ll be hard-pressed to find a less aesthetically pleasing win than what took place inside UOP Stadium and the Cards could care less. With the surprising Los Angeles Rams upsetting the Cowboys in Dallas to improve to 3-1 a home, inner-division would be painful, even in early October. There will be plenty for head coach Bruce Arians and his staff to work on this week. “I’m really proud of our guys,” Arians said afterwards. “It was a great effort from the entire team. Every guy fought. There was good; there was some bad.” Arizona committed 10 penalties for 80 yards and averaged just 2.3 yards per rush attempt but with the win, the Cards climb back to .500.
Smoke(y) Detector…It sure was nice to see ‘ole #12 back out there making plays for the Cards. Wide receiver John Brown returned for the first time in three weeks and was a first half factor for Bruce Arians’ offense. “Smokey” caught three passes for 47 yards. He was targeted five times in the first half and at times showed his old quickness and burst finding pockets in the Niners’ zone defense. He broke loose behind the 49ers’ secondary and forced a 33-yard pass interference penalty early in the third quarter which led to a game-tying field goal. Simply having a healthy Brown on the field changes the entire dynamic of the Arizona offense, especially without David Johnson. “It was a big lift,” Arians said of Brown.
Finally Finding Fitz…Larry Fitzgerald is no stranger to the ebbs and flows of the NFL. Six days after single-handedly keeping the Cardinals afloat most of the night, the 49ers’ defensive scheme made sure #11 wasn’t going to beat them. “It was just one of those games plans,” Palmer explained afterwards. He didn’t…until the final play when he and Carson Palmer took advantage of some confusion in the Niners’ secondary, connecting on the games’ only touchdown, a 19-yard scoring strike which sent many of the 64,121 fans in attendance home happy. “There were a couple [defenders] going back and forth, trying to switch sides,” Palmer said. “He just kind of got a free release and was one-on-one up the seam.” Nothing about “Larry Legend’s” four-catch, 32-yard performance will sizzle but when the game was on the line, there was nobody better…again.
Cardinals, Oh-Line…Saturday it was announced Pro Bowl guard Mike Iupati was placed on injured reserve. Add in Sunday’s inactives Alex Boone and D.J. Humphries which equalled a recipe for disaster, even against a young San Francisco front loaded with high draft picks. Palmer was sacked only once in the first half but was hit seven times and frequently forced out of the pocket as protection collapsed around him. The Arizona receivers didn’t help matters dropping a handful of catchable passes, particularly in the first half. The Niners finished the game with six sacks (16 quarterback hits), equalling the Cowboys’ sack total from last week. Hard to imagine Palmer surviving the season if said trend continues.
Not the Golden Hour…Markus Golden won’t be adding this game to his highlight reel. The talented WILL backer jumped offsides for the second-consecutive game (twice Sunday), broke containment on a few long 49er run plays and missed a handful tackles Sunday. His bad angles frequently led to long San Francisco run plays towards his side of the field. The third-year pro from Missouri was injured in overtime. Arians did not know the extent of the injury when asked in his post-game press conference.
Arizona is back on the road next weekend traveling to Philadelphia to take on the 3-1 Eagles.