Nov 13, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro (7) kicks a game-winning field goal against the San Francisco 49ers during the during half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
All that being said, there were some good things on Sunday that happened. The bad and ugly outshine again however.
Nov 13, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Dontae Johnson (36) tackles Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald had another monster day. He had 12 receptions for 133 yards. His longest reception of the day went for 33 yards and looked for a second he might break it for a touchdown.
It was as series that ended up in a Chandler Catanzaro field goal however. Fitz played through a lot nof pain it seemed on Sunday. He had to dive head first and landed awkwardly on his legs and mid-section.
Later on in the game he went to the locker room holding that mid-section. He returned in the second-half however.
His 12 receptions on Sunday give him 68 on the season. He was targeted an amazing 18 times against the 49ers. Without him, who knows where the Cardinals offense would be?
Fitz was hurting a couple of weeks ago not to mention the sprained MCL he had in preseason. He appears to be doing all he can to will the Cardinals to victory.
Nov 13, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals running back David Johnson (31) dodges a tackle from San Francisco 49ers cornerback Tramaine Brock (26) during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The lack of balance on offense was surprising to see against the 49ers on Sunday. The Cardinals only ran the ball 23 times on Sunday.
Of those 23, 19 were from running back David Johnson. He only gained 55 yards on the ground. He failed to gain 100-yards, something the 49ers had given up to eight-consecutive opposing running backs, including 157 to Johnson on October 6th.
The Cardinals threw the ball 49 times. While that in itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can be viewed as puzzling given the Cardinals never trailed in this game.
Usually teams that throw 49 times are doing so out of necessity. While coach Bruce Arians blamed the 49ers stacking the box, there seemed to be more at work.
With as much complaining there has been about the lack of big plays by the Cardinals in the passing game this season, it appeared the Cardinals wanted to try and exploit the 49ers secondary.
For the most part, it didn’t work when it needed to. The Cardinals also didn’t seem to adjust to that and run the ball more. The offensive line also needs to block better. While they did a better job of pass protection, the line failed to give Johnson holes to run through.
Nov 13, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver J.J. Nelson (14) fumbles after marling a catch as San Francisco 49ers cornerback Keith Reaser (27) defends during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
Simply put, turnovers. The Cardinals turned the ball over four times on Sunday. Palmer was intercepted twice and they also fumbled twice.
Palmer can be blamed completely on one of the picks. On the other, receiver J.J. Nelson had it in his hands and let it slip through only to be picked off.
Speaking of Nelson, not a good day for him. In addition to the pick he allowed to take place, he also fumbled a ball. Certainly a game to forget for him.
The Cardinals were minus-three in the turnover battle on Sunday. They won’t be able to do that against anyone left on their schedule should they want to continue to win football games in 2016.
The Cardinals will need to take very good care of the ball against teams like the Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Washington Redskins, and Seattle Seahawks if they want to continue entertaining postseason thoughts.