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Bird Bits: Cardinals drop season finale to 49ers

Sure, you could read the box score and know who won, but we all know that won’t tell you everything that happened in a football game. So, we will give you Bird Bits providing you with the analysis, quotes and notes from the Cardinals’ 27-13 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

The Story:

The Arizona Cardinals concluded their dismal 2012 campaign in fitting fashion, as they lost to the San Francisco 49ers 27-13 in a clunker.

Arizona’s offense was not abysmal on Sunday, but the unit was also not very efficient. After two first half field goals by Jay Feely, Brian Hoyer and Co. were stifled by the league’s fourth-ranked pass defense for most of the afternoon.

Hoyer, making his first career NFL start, finished 19-of-34 for 225 yards with a touchdown and an interception. The problem was most of his positive play came with the game out of reach. Hoyer completed 10 passes for 90 yards in the fourth quarter.

William Powell, arguably the team’s most talented running back in a group decimated by injuries, poor protection and inconsistency, rushed for 52 yards but wasn’t a focal point of the offense after the Cardinals fell behind by double digits in the second half.

Playing from behind started to take its toll on the Cardinals defense, as well. After giving up just 10 yards of offense in the first quarter, Ray Horton’s unit looked susceptible to the big play and Colin Kaepernick and Co. took note. San Francisco accumulated 397 yards over the final three quarters en route to an easy victory and a second straight NFC West title.

The Good:

Brian Hoyer didn’t light up the scoreboard Sunday afternoon, but outside of a late interception, he also didn’t commit costly turnovers like his predecessors John Skelton and Ryan Lindley.

Hoyer might not have made the case to be the team’s leading option at starting quarterback heading into 2013, but the veteran looks to have the tools to be a quality backup.

He also threw the team’s first passing touchdown since Week 9.

Michael Floyd saved his best for last in his rookie season. The No. 13 overall pick had eight catches for 166 yards and a touchdown Sunday.

Arizona gave up several big plays through the air but managed to keep Frank Gore in check. San Francisco’s leading rusher had only 68 yards on 20 carries.

The Bad:

Larry Fitzgerald was a non-factor on Sunday, a theme which has been constant over the team’s final 11 games. The six-time Pro Bowler had two catches for 13 yards and was targeted just five times.

Patrick Peterson may have made great strides as a cornerback this season, but the two-time Pro Bowler has a long way to go when it comes to defending San Francisco’s Michael Crabtree. In their Week 8 showdown, Crabtree had five catches for 72 yards and two touchdowns. Sunday he had even more fun toying with Peterson. The former Texas Tech star recorded eight catches for 172 yards and two scores.

He Said It:

“It’s hard because you want to gain consistency with one guy, but we just have to stay together. And that’s what we did. Fitz and the older players always say that when the ball comes to you, you have to make a play. Because if you don’t, you never know when the ball will come back to you.” – Wide receiver Michael Floyd on quarterback situation


• Dave Zastudil has been one of the few bright spots in 2012. Sunday, he added to his league-record with two more punts inside the 20-yard line, including a 70-yard bomb in the first quarter.

• If Sunday was Beanie Wells’ final audition for the other 31 teams in the NFL, it didn’t exactly go according to plan. Ken Whisenhunt pulled the curtain on the running back’s final act of 2012. Wells didn’t play at all in Arizona’s loss.

• The last time Arizona lost 11 games in a season was 2010, meaning Ken Whisenhunt has had two 11-loss campaigns in six seasons.

Coming Up Next:

The Cardinals will have to wait until 2013 to rectify their underwhelming 11-loss season. Until then, expect plenty of notable personnel moves to take place in the offseason.