Final

Cardinals 17

(4-8, 2-4 away)

49ers 10

(2-10, 2-5 home)

4:05 PM ET, December 4, 2005

 

1 2 3 4 T
ARI 3 0 6 817
SF 0 7 3 010

Top Performers

Passing: K. Warner (ARI) - 354 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: J. Arrington (ARI) - 18 CAR, 59 YDS

Receiving: A. Boldin (ARI) - 11 REC, 156 YDS, 1 TD

Warner, Boldin power Cards past Smith, Niners

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Everybody agreed Anquan Boldin had no logical business getting to the end zone, about 50 yards after he should have been tackled.

It was over when ...
Arizona receiver Anquan Boldin turned a short catch on third-and-20 into a 54-yard TD sprint, avoiding five tackles en route to the go-ahead score.
Game ball goes to ...
Boldin. Honorable mention goes to Kurt Warner, who was 29-of-45 for 354 yards and a TD, and Nick Novak, who kicked three field goals filling in for the injured Neil Rackers.
ESPN's take ...
Sean Salisbury Kurt Warner has consistently proven his worth to the Cardinals and he may be the immediate answer for this offense. He's been very effective and has done a great job getting the ball to his corps of receivers. There are things that need to be fixed on this team, but quarterback is probably fourth on that list unless they can get a guy like Daunte Culpepper.
-- Sean Salisbury

But players such as Boldin often are the difference between merely disappointing teams like the Arizona Cardinals and truly dismal teams such as the 49ers. Boldin's stumbling, staggering run through the 49ers' inept tackling was a fitting way to decide a 17-10 win over San Francisco.

Kurt Warner was 29-of-45 for 354 yards, and Boldin somehow turned one of his 11 catches for 156 yards into the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter Sunday.

Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, who had eight receptions for 129 yards, ran wild in San Francisco's inexperienced secondary. But the Cardinals couldn't take control until Boldin turned a short catch on third-and-20 into a 54-yard, broken-field TD rumble, avoiding five tackles and eventually diving into the end zone with 10:45 to play.

Boldin reacted to his electric score with the proper humility for a star on a losing team. Arizona (4-8) won for the second time in three games, sweeping its season series with the lowly 49ers (2-10).

"I realized that it was third-and-20, and I tried to cut back across the field to give us a chance to get the first down," Boldin said. "I made (about) two guys miss, and it just opened up from there. ... Really the only time they did stop us was when we started stopping ourselves with the penalties and turnovers, but that is something that we have to work on."

Warner threw two interceptions, and the Cardinals managed just 65 yards rushing while failing to score in all three of their trips inside San Francisco's 20. Against any other opponent, it might have cost them.

"We made it hard on ourselves today, doing about everything we could to give it away," Warner said. "But we battled and did everything we needed to do to win, and Q (Boldin) made a tremendous play to spark us. We kept our own backs against the wall all day."

Keith Lewis blocked a punt and intercepted Warner's pass in the fourth quarter for the 49ers, who lost for the 10th time in 11 games since the season opener. The missed tackles and poor execution on Boldin's score were emblematic of an entire afternoon of growing pains for a club starting rookies and inexperienced free agents across its lineup.

"Everything we do right now, all of it is about the future," said coach Mike Nolan, who was touting his club's chances to win the NFC West just three weeks ago.

No. 1 draft pick Alex Smith was outstanding before halftime and dismal afterward in his third NFL start for the 49ers, remaining winless -- and without a touchdown pass -- in his pro career. He was 11-of-12 for 138 yards in the first half, but 5-of-12 with three interceptions after halftime, including Eric Green's pick with 1:42 to play.

"Age is not an excuse once you're out there, but we've got so many young guys at so many new positions," the 21-year-old quarterback said. "I was definitely comfortable out there, but there are still plenty of things about this pro game that I've got to get used to."

Maurice Hicks scored the only touchdown for the Niners, who play their next three games on the road -- where they've won one game in two years -- before a season-ending matchup with 1-11 Houston on New Year's Day.

The game didn't begin as ugly as it ended. Despite near-constant blitzing by both defenses to capitalize on Smith's inexperience and Warner's immobility, Smith completed his first eight passes, while Warner was 16-of-23 in the first half.

Smith's proficiency finally paid off in the closing minutes of the first half, when he hit Johnnie Morton for a pair of 24-yard gains before finding running back Frank Gore on a broken play for 31 yards, setting up Hicks' TD dive.

Lewis blocked a punt to set up Joe Nedney's 48-yard field goal, putting San Francisco up 10-9 entering the fourth quarter. Lewis then intercepted Warner's terrible pass with 11:36 left -- but Gore fumbled on the 49ers' next play, and Nolan blew two timeouts in a foolhardy attempt to challenge it.

After two incomplete passes and a holding penalty, Warner hit Boldin with a short pass over the middle -- and after he scored, Arizona made its 2-point conversion.

Game notes


Filling in for injured kicker Neil Rackers, Nick Novak kicked three field goals. ... Fitzgerald had his seventh 100-yard receiving game of the season, also surpassing 1,000 total yards. ... Smith's passer rating dropped from 114.6 at halftime to 50.2 -- still much better than his 17.5 entering the day.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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Team Stat Comparison

 
Arizona
San Francisco
1st Downs1811
3rd down efficiency
5-162-9
4th down efficiency
0-10-0
Total Yards404220
Yards per play5.84.7
Total Drives11
Passing339169
Comp-Att
29-4516-24
Yards per pass
7.57.0
Interceptions thrown
23
Sacks-Yards Lost
2-153-16
Rushing6551
Rushing Attempts
2320
Yards per rush
2.82.6
Penalties11-806-44
Turnovers24
Fumbles lost
01
Interceptions thrown
23
Possession34:4525:15

Passing Leaders

ARIC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Warner29/453547.9122-15
SFC/ATTYDSAVGTDINTSACKS
Smith16/241857.7033-16

Rushing Leaders

ARICARYDSAVGTDLG
Arrington18593.3016
Ayanbadejo2115.509
SFCARYDSAVGTDLG
Gore6223.709
Hicks10171.715

Receiving Leaders

ARIRECYDSAVGTDLG
Boldin1115614.2154
Fitzgerald812916.1034
SFRECYDSAVGTDLG
Morton36622.0024
Lloyd5479.4012

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERARISF
FG13:58Nick Novak 30 Yd
Drive: 14 plays, 68 yds, 7:51
30
SECOND QUARTERARISF
TD13:02Maurice Hicks 1 Yd Run (Joe Nedney Kick)
Drive: 6 plays, 85 yds, 3:13
37
THIRD QUARTERARISF
FG3:00Nick Novak 35 Yd
Drive: 8 plays, 58 yds, 3:00
67
FG7:39Nick Novak 19 Yd
Drive: 9 plays, 28 yds, 4:29
97
FG14:54Joe Nedney 48 Yd
Drive: 4 plays, -4 yds, 1:43
910
FOURTH QUARTERARISF
TD4:15Anquan Boldin 54 Yd Pass From Kurt Warner (Obafemi Ayanbadejo Run For Two-Point Conversion)
Drive: 3 plays, 44 yds, :43
1710