49ers 23

(12-4, 6-2 away)

Cardinals 20

(10-6, 6-2 home)

Coverage: FOX

4:25 PM ET, December 29, 2013

U of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, AZ 

1 2 3 4 T
SF 17 0 0 623
ARI 0 7 0 1320

Top Performers

Passing: C. Palmer (ARI) - 407 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: R. Mendenhall (ARI) - 10 CAR, 47 YDS

Receiving: A. Boldin (SF) - 9 REC, 149 YDS, 1 TD

Niners lock up No. 5 seed on Phil Dawson's game-winning FG

Associated Press

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Phil Dawson's franchise-record string of 27 consecutive field goals ended with a missed 24-yard chip shot. The San Francisco kicker made up for it, to say the least, at the end of a wild 23-20 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday that clinched the NFC's No. 5 playoff seed.

Now the 49ers take a six-game winning streak into their first-round game at Green Bay.

"We would like to carry that momentum," said Anquan Boldin, who had a big game against his former team. "It felt like a playoff game. We came in here and won a tough game, so hopefully that will continue."

The 49ers (12-4) led 17-0 after one quarter, but needed two field goals from Dawson in the final 1:45. The first one matched his career long of 56 yards, the second was a 40-yarder to win the game as time expired.

"You live and learn on every kick, try to figure what I did wrong and apply that to future kicks," Dawson said. "I am glad it came down to the end to help our team win."

The teams combined for 16 points in the final 3:20.

After Dawson's 56-yarder put San Francisco up 20-17 with 1:45 to go, Jay Feely -- who had missed two earlier -- made a 43-yard field goal to tie it at 20 with 34 seconds left.

That turned out to be plenty of time for the 49ers.

LaMichael James' 45-yard kickoff return and two quick completions by Colin Kaepernick set up Dawson's winner.

"It doesn't matter how (we won)," San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said, "by any means necessary."

The crucial completion to set up the winning field goal, a 29-yard sidelines throw, went to rookie Quinton Patton, who in a season slowed by injury had just one catch before Sunday.

Arizona (10-6) rallied from a 17-0 first-quarter deficit to tie it on Carson Palmer's 34-yard touchdown pass to Andre Roberts with 3:20 remaining.

Boldin caught nine passes for 149 yards and a TD in his first game back since Arizona traded him to Baltimore after the 2009 season.

To make the playoffs, the Cardinals needed to beat San Francisco and have New Orleans lose to Tampa Bay. Neither occurred, leaving Arizona, in its first year under coach Bruce Arians, to settle for just its third 10-win season since the franchise moved to the desert in 1988.

"That comeback was as good as I've been around against a very good football team," Arians said. "It just shows what they've been through, they're persevering and fighting for 60 minutes. The thing that's really bad about the NFL is how abruptly it ends. We were really hoping to be playing next weekend and obviously we're not."

Palmer, after a slow start, was 28 for 49 for 407 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. In the process, he became the first player in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season for three different teams. Larry Fitzgerald had six catches for 113 yards.

San Francisco's NaVorro Bowman had an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack in the 49ers' ninth victory in the last 10 meetings with Arizona.

Boldin did most of his damage in the first quarter, with six catches for 106 yards, including a 4-yarder for a touchdown and a 63-yard play to set up another TD.

But that was it for the San Francisco offense until Dawson's late two kicks.

Bowman's sack had put Arizona in third and 13 when Palmer lofted one to the end zone, where Roberts gathered it in just as he was sliding out of bounds on a slippery turf recently re-sodded for Wednesday's Fiesta Bowl.

Kaepernick's 18-yard pass to Boldin helped set up Dawson's 56-yarder, matching his longest, set in 2008.

Palmer, though, connected on passes of 24 yards to Rob Housler and 23 yards to Fitzgerald to give Feely a chance for redemption, and the kick that tied it at 20.

With the game seemingly headed for overtime, James raced from 5 yards deep in the end zone to the 49ers 40, then Kaepernick, in a play that started with just 18 seconds to play, completed a perfect pass to the untested Patton.

"I liked the matchup and there was no safety on that side of the field," Kaepernick said. "I thought I would give him a chance. He has shown that he can go up and make those plays in practice. He came up with it and it was huge for us."

Then, Dawson's final field goal ended it.

Game notes

The 49ers beat Green Bay 34-28 in San Francisco in the season opener ... Arizona NT Alameda Ta'amu left in the second quarter with a right knee injury. ... Arizona WR Michael Floyd's string of 25 straight catches that went for first downs ended in the first quarter when he caught a 6-yarder. ... The 49ers finished 5-1 against the NFC West; Arizona was 2-4.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1919
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5972
Total Yards375482
Yards per play6.46.7
Total Drives1413
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)2-51-2
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs00

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

sfFG10:41Phil Dawson 27 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 53 yds, 2:55
sfTD8:39Anquan Boldin 4 Yard Pass From Colin Kaepernick (Phil Dawson Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 22 yds, 1:15
sfTD0:56Vernon Davis 3 Yard Pass From Colin Kaepernick (Phil Dawson Kick is Good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 72 yds, 2:23
ariTD4:50Jake Ballard 1 Yard Pass From Carson Palmer (Jay Feely Kick is Good)
Drive info: 10 plays, 88 yds, 5:44
ariFG14:52Jay Feely 49 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 11 plays, 54 yds, 4:09
ariTD3:28Andre Roberts 34 Yard Pass From Carson Palmer (Jay Feely Kick is Good)
Drive info: 5 plays, 60 yds, 2:28
sfFG1:50Phil Dawson 56 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 7 plays, 41 yds, 1:35
ariFG0:34Jay Feely 43 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 8 plays, 55 yds, 1:16
sfFG0:02Phil Dawson 40 Yard Field Goal is Good
Drive info: 3 plays, 42 yds, 0:29

Research Notes

Carson Palmer entered the week with the most interceptions on passes thrown 15 or more yards downfield. Palmer completed more passes of those lengths Sunday than any other team against the 49ers this season, all without an interception.
Anquan Boldin caught 3 of 4 targets on 3rd down for 75 yards and a touchdown. He entered the game leading the NFL in receiving yards (454), catch percentage (75.0%) and 1st downs (25) on 3rd down (min. 20 targets). Boldin racked up 96 yards after the catch, including 60 yards after the catch on a 1st-quarter reception which set up a touchdown. That is the 2nd-most YAC for Boldin in a game in his career.
Colin Kaepernick has 2 touchdown passes in the 1st half, giving him 21 for the season. He is the 1st 49ers QB with at least 20 touchdown passes in a season since Jeff Garcia in 2002. This snapped a drought of 10 seasons for the 49ers without a QB throwing 20 touchdowns (was longest drought in NFL).
Phil Dawson missed a 24-yard on the 49ers last play of the half. This snapped his streak of 27 consecutive field goals made, the longest active streak in the NFL.

ESPN Stats & Information