The Arizona Cardinals entered Sunday’s game with slim playoff hopes, but those evaporated before the end of their game against the San Francisco 49ers.
But even after being all but eliminated from the playoffs, the Cardinals clawed back from down 17 before ultimately losing 23-20 on San Francisco kicker Phil Dawson’s 40-yard field goal as time expired.
The Cardinals wouldn’t have made the playoffs even with a win, as the New Orleans Saints routed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 42-17. Here’s a look back at the 23-20 loss:
San Francisco receiver Quinton Patton didn’t have a single receiving yard before Sunday, when he caught two passes for 34 yards — including a 29-yarder to set up the 49ers’ game-winning field goal.
Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season with three different teams. He’s now done it with the Bengals, Raiders and Cardinals.
San Francisco’s running backs carried the ball 17 times for 21 yards against the Cardinals’ stout run defense, good for 1.23 yards per carry. Their three longest rushes — for a combined 51 yards — came from Patton, receiver Anquan Boldin and quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
Cardinals kicker Jay Feely missed a pair of very makeable field goals from 43 and 37 yards — both wide right. Those points obviously hurt as the Cardinals lost by three.
San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis was held to three catches for 45 yards after torching the Cardinals to the tune of eight catches and 180 yards in the teams’ first matchup this season.
Palmer threw his fifth interception in as many quarters on Arizona’s second drive, throwing a pass between several San Francisco defenders that was picked off by linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
Nine different Cardinals players caught passes, including three tight ends and three running backs.
The 49ers opened the game with 17 unanswered points — forcing the Cardinals into their largest first-half deficit of the season. Arizona scored 17 unanswered of its own to tie the game at 17 with 3:20 to play, and Jay Feely’s 43-yard field goal tied the game at 20 with 29 seconds left in regulation.
But a big kickoff return by LaMichael James gave the 49ers good field position, and Dawson ultimately connected on the game-winner to end Arizona’s season.
Boldin, a former Cardinal, caught nine passes for 145 yards — 106 of which came in the first quarter. Boldin scored a touchdown and also had an 11-yard carry.
Palmer threw for 407 yards on 28-of-49 passing, with his lone interception coming on Arizona’s second possession. Palmer finished with an 89.4 rating after having one below 10 at halftime.
Cardinals receiver Michael Floyd reached the 1,000-yard mark for the first time in his young career, grabbing six passes for 91 yards.