After all the talk about how the Cardinals need to play better offense in the first half and all the warnings about how playing at San Francisco could be a "trap game". What did the Arizona Cardinals do?
Everything possible to lose the game.
We'll save the analysis for other articles for now let's recap what happened.
After stopping the 49ers' first drive, the Cardinals received the ball on their one yard line with 11 minutes in the first quarter. Moving the ball only fourteen yards they punted on fourth down. However, the 49ers' punt returner Quinton Patton fumbled the ball and it was recovered by Alani Fua at San Francisco's 39 yard line.
Getting as close as the 49ers eight yard line, they only came away with a field goal after a bizarre stop in play where the referees spent at least 5 minutes conferring with each other and the booth on how to call a penalty and still enforced the penalty incorrectly. The Cardinals defense played well on the drive and Tryann Mathieu was able intercept a poor and ill-advised Blaine Gabbert throw. As the quarter ended the offense Fitzgerald had caught consecutive passes to get a first down.
The second quarter was more ugly than the first. The Cardinals drive stalled on back to back penalties and a lifeless running game, having to settle with another field goal to go up 6-0. Failing to move the ball well on both sides, San Francisco got the ball back with three minutes left in the first half and was able to get close enough to for Phil Dawson to kick a 53-yard field goal going into the half.
Cardinals 6, 49ers 3
Despite expectations Arizona came out of halftime and did not flip the offensive switch to bury San Francisco, instead Palmer threw to John Brown for a 48-yard reception and the 49ers' proceeded to commit four penalties allowing a ridiculous amount of attmepts to finally gain a one yard touchdown off David Johnson.
San Francisco proceeded to look like the team that leads the NFC West and scored a touchdown, forced the Cardinals to punt on the next series, to turn around and score another field goal to tie the game. From then on out nothing happened except punts and penalties until the Cardinals got the ball with 10:35 move sporadically, again aided by penalties, to the 49ers red zone and with 2:35 seconds left in the game Carson Palmer was able to get out of the pocket and run for an 8-yard touchdown.
But rather than make the game 20-13, Chandler Catanzaro also played poorly and his point after attempt was pushed right and bounced off the upright giving a glimmer of hope for the 49ers.
The 49ers then moved down the field at will over broken coverage as they had all game to get to the Cardinals 30 yard line. The defense held strong when Tony Jefferson sacked Blaine Gabbert ten yards and the next play was a catch to Boldin for only 19 yards. Or one yard short of the first down.
San Francisco, with two timeouts, still had to shot to get the ball back, but Bruce Arians ever willing to take a risk, chose to have Palmer hit John Brown for a quick slant getting the first down and effectively ending the game.