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The Setup
Cards were 8 & 2 - coming off consecutive wins over two elite NFL football teams (Seattle and Cincy). The national media had decided to anoint them their "flavor of the week" who could do no wrong. The Niners had experienced major injury and contractual hits to what had been an impressive roster accompanying nearly a complete overhaul of its front office and coaching staff. Challenge for the Niners was to play hard despite being out of the playoff picture and for the Cardinals to tune out all the media hype telling them how good they really were.

The Lede
Cards Win Squeaker 19 - 16

The Bottom Line:
Carsin "Swivel Hips" Palmer led his team on a 14-play (7:57) fourth quarter scoring drive and scored on an 8-yard scramble to overcome a 16 - 13 Niner lead - while the Cardinal defense held on during the final 2:28 minutes to preserve the win. On the final Niner possession, QB (Blaine "2-Yards Short" Gabbert hit Anquan Boldin for 18-yards - 2 yards short of a first down. Cards took over and ran out the clock. 2:28

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • Niners received. TB on the KO. They looked crisp during their first five plays, gaining +4, +13, +10, +19, +5 before the Cards finally stopped Droughn for minus-4 followed by a sack (shared by Golden and Minter) to force a punt. Punt was downed at the Cardinal one. They managed to get as far as their own twenty before a false start flag (Gresham) set up a punt from their 15. Punt was muffed at the Niner 39 and recovered by Fua.

    A 14-yard completion on the first play moved the Cards to the Niner 25.). They managed to get to the Niner 15 where the Niners were penalized for having too many defenders on the field. Ball was spottted at the Niner 8, but instead of having it revert back to a first down due to the penalty, the officials "stole a down from us and ade it 2nd & 3 from the Niner 8. Cards were unable to punch it in, and settled for a 26-yard Catanzaro FG. Cards 3 - Niners 0.

    Kickoff was returned to the Niner 16. The Niners moved to their own 36 in 4 plays where Gabbert's deep [right pass was picked off by the Badger and returned to the Niner 28. Cards reached the Niner 35 in 4 plays as the quarter ended

    1st Quarter Score: Cards 3 - Niners 0..

2nd Quarter
  • On the 5th play of the Cardinal possession, Palmer hit John Brown down the right sideline - Brown made a sensational one-handed catch, but the TD was nullified (because Brown went out of bounds before catching pass in-bounds and tightropiing down the sideline into the end zone. A delay of game penalty helped force another (41 yard) FG. Cards 6 - Niners 0..

    KO was returned to the Niner 23. A false start flag helped stall their drive and they punted from their own 36. Peterson returned the punt to the Cardinal 41The Cards made it to the Niner 31, but instead of settling for the FG, BA "went for it." o 4th & 2. Palmer's deep pass to D Johnson was incomplete.

    Niners took over on downs at their own 31 and went 3 & out. Punt was fair caught at the Card 21. After picking up a first down on the first two plays, the Cardinal drive fizzled and they punted from their own 42. TB on the punt. 3:42 till the half. GAbbert led his team on an 11-play (3:42) drive capped by a 53-yard Dawson FG to end the half.

    First Half Score: Cards 6 - Niners 3.

3rd Quarter
  • Cards received, KO was returned to the Card 24. A 48-yard pass over the deep middle was caught by John Brown. From their the Cards used pass interference penalty to reach the Niner one, where 3 penalties on the Niners out of 6 snaps moved the ball back and forth between the 4 and 1 yard line until D Johnson finally barreled up the middle for a one-yard TD. Cards 13 - Niners 3.

    KO was returned to the SF 23. A 48-yard short pass/run to T Ball and a short-right completion to DOughn for 12 yards set up an 8-yard TD pass to McDonald. . Cards 13 - Niners 10.

    TB on the KO. Cards, dialing it up conservatively, were only able to make it to the Niner 45. TB on the punt. A 17 yard completion to Boldin and a 41 yard pass/run down the left sideline to T SMith got the Niners to their own 22, where an Offensive PI flag on McDonald helped stall the Niner drive at the 15, where they settled for a 33-yard FG to tie the game. Cards 13 - Niners 13.

    KO. returned to the Card 21. They reached their own 34 to end the quarter.

    Third Quarter Score: Cards 13 - Niners 13.

4th Quarter
  • Despite a roughness penalty by Carradine on a sack of Palmer. He got nowhere. Cards punted from their own 44. Punt was downed at the Niner 23. Despite a 16-yard completion to McDonald, the nIners eventually punted from their own 42. Fair catch: Card 15.

    Palmer led his offense on a gritty 14 play (7:57) drive capped by an uncharacteristic 8-yard Palmer scramble for the game winning TD. XP was no good. Cards 19 - Niners 13.

2:28 left on the clock. KO was returned to the Niner 21. Gabbert pecked his way down the field and reached the Cardinal 30 before Gabbert's 4th & 20 pass deep over the middle was caught 2-yard short of a first down and the Cards took over on their own 22. A quick slant over the middle to John Brown was followed by 2 knees to end the game.

Final Score:Cards 19 - Niners 13.

Game Stats.

  • Passing: Palmer was 24 for 41 (271 yards, 0 TD's and 0 picks). Cards held Gabbert to 25 of 36 (318yards, 1 TD's and 1 pic).

    Takeaways: Cards plus - 2. (The pick by Matthieu and Fumble recovery on the punt by Fua). Palmer threw no picks. Cards didn't fumble. There's your football game.

  • Rushing: Cards gained 70 net yards (2.4 ypc). Seattle runners were held to 67 (3.9 ypc). C Ellington gained 24 yards. C Johnson gained 21.We held Droughl to 51-yards. Gabbert scrambled for 11.
  • Receiving: John Brown caught 5 for 99 -yards. Fitz picked up 66 yards and 0 TD's on 10 catches. Nelson had the nice 34-yard grab that moved us to the Niner one.

  • Cardinal Run/Pass Ratio: . (Runs: 29/Pass: 40). Cincy Run/Pass Ratio: 17/36).

  • Matthieu (who had one interception and was active all over the field) led the Cards with 11 tackles. Minter was next with 7.

  • Sacks - 2-sack. Jefferson credited with 1.Another sack was shared by Goldin and Minter)?.

    Situational Efficiency: Cards converted 7 of 14 third downs (50%). SF was 0 of 9 (0%). Cards were 2 of 4 in the Red Zone (50%). SF was 1of 2 (50%).

    Penalties: Cards were penalized 7 times for 47 yards (SF were penalized 13 times for 81 yds).

    Time of Possession: Cards 37:27 Niners 22:33

Bright Spots

  • The final 7:57 14-play 4Q drive that provided the winning TD on the run by Palmer (Guts Ball)..

    We're 9 & 2 (still three games ahead of Seattle - who won today - and one game further ahead of the Rams (who lost today).

    We won in hostile territory.

    No turnovers (but 2 take-aways).

    All our top 5 receivers looked like "money."

The Darker Side

  • The O-line didn't dominate, had trouble protecting Palmer and couldn't open many holes for our RB's.
  • I suspected that (with the weird officiating, dropped interception by Brock etc.), it was a "stupid kind of day" and Catanzaro was likely to shank that 4th quarter XP...he sure did.
  • Undetermined injuries to two of our three RB's (Ellington and C Johnson) and a starting CB (Powers)..

    Offensive play calling was a bit conservative and kind of predictable.

    Poor outside contain of of Gabbert and Droughn as a receiver.

    Open field tackling remained a bit inconsistent.

    Niners clearly had the best looking unis.

Last Word:
((Note: Even though we won, and even though we were out-penalized by SF, I thought the officiating was a total disaster.)

We "won a game we were supposed to win but we won pretty "ugly." It's one thing to state publically that you're not buying into all the media hype and have your nose to the proverbial grindstone and another thing to actually play that way. Cardinal players played lip-service during this past week to "remaining humble", "not believing our clippings" etc. They'll probably do so again between now in the Ram game. But don't think for a minute that the Rams will be any easier to beat than the Niners were today. We escaped by the hair on BA's chinny-chin chin yesterday. Next week will hopefully mark our tenth win. But only if we play like 10-game winners.

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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012