Posted on October 06, 2016, by Travis Pulver
How many times have you decided to stay up and watch a Sunday, Monday, or Thursday night football game only to regret having done so the next day at work because you are tired and the game was terrible? At the same time, how many times have you decided to go to bed because the match-up looked like a snooze-fest or the first half was awful, but then the game or second half ended up being epic?
How many of you wrestled with those exact questions Thursday night before kickoff of the Arizona-San Francisco game?
Well—if you opted for sleep, you didn’t miss much. If you are a 49ers fan, you didn’t miss anything. Cardinals fans probably enjoyed the second half, but the first half had almost zero entertainment value to it.
The two teams combined for nine punts to start the game. It wasn’t like they started with bad field position, but the drive stalled at the 50-yard line. Both offenses were just terrible. Each team had only one drive with two or more first downs.
As dull as it was, no one should have been surprised. The 49ers are terrible, and the Cardinals haven’t been much better this season even when they do have their No. 1 quarterback—and their No. 2 Drew Stanton, got the start for an injured Carson Palmer.
Blaine Gabbert had a few decent moments, but they were rarely multiple “moments” in a single drive. Drew Stanton didn’t do much better, but with the help of his best two offensive weapons—Dave Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald—he was able to generate some offense for the Cardinals in the second half.
Stanton got some much-needed help from his defense. An interception late in the first half helped get the Cardinals on the board. Calais Campbell picked off Gabbert at the 21-yard line. One play later, Stanton hit Larry Fitzgerald with a 21-yard touchdown pass to tie the game at 7-7 before the end of the half.
The 49ers did the Cardinals another favor to start the second half by fumbling the ball during the opening kickoff. The defense did its job and held the Cardinals to a field goal, but someone ran into the kicker and gave Arizona a first down. On the next play, David Johnson trotted over the goal line for his first touchdown of the day.
From that point on, the game belonged to the Cardinals. They took a 21-7 lead on their next drive, and a commanding 31-14 lead after David Johnson scored his second touchdown of the night to cap off a 12-play drive that ate up most of the fourth quarter (7:12) (ESPN). San Francisco recorded another touchdown, and the Cardinals recorded a safety to make the final score 33-21
The defense did its part with seven sacks on the night, a safety, and three turnovers (two interceptions and a fumble). All three turnovers led to points for the Cardinals.
Arizona has looked nothing like the team that made it to the NFC Championship game last season. The defense hasn’t played well, and the offense has been stagnant. But against the 49ers the defense woke up as did David Johnson (185 total yards and two touchdowns). Larry Fitzgerald had another great night with six receptions for 81 yards and a pair of touchdowns (ESPN).
Should they be able to keep the momentum going when Carson Palmer returns and, the Cardinals may make a serious run at the division title ad playoffs after all.
As for the 49ers—it’s looking more and more like Chip Kelly will have Deshaun Watson behind center next year (unless the Browns beat the 49ers out for the No. 1 pick).