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Niners too-close-for-comfort aftermath

Posted by Darren Urban on November 13, 2016 – 8:24 pm

No one ever talks about “must-win” before a game, not players or coaches. But after Sunday’s nail-biting-when-you-hoped-there-be-no-nails-bitten win for the Cardinals, Bruce Arians acknowledged that the victory over the 49ers was not just vital, but that if the Cards couldn’t win that game at home, “it’s over.”

Safety Tony Jefferson paused a bit when that info was relayed to him. “I don’t know how that works,” Jefferson said. “I barely just found out who’s in the AFC and all that.” Jefferson chuckled. “I just go out there and play and try and get a ‘W.'”

The Cardinals did that. There was hope there might be some style points this week if for no other reason to build confidence. Instead, the Cardinals will have to take what they can — their field-goal unit came up with a kick it had to have. The passing game got some chunks. Michael Floyd emerged with a 100-yard game. Larry Fitzgerald was pretty awesome.

— It did not help that the Seahawks hung on in New England.

— Something to watch is Fitzgerald’s health. He had a big knee brace he was playing with by the end of the game. He landed awkwardly after one tackle by 49ers defensive back Jimmie Ward. “He ended up telling me that he ended up tearing something,” Ward said of Fitz. Which is probably not good — although Fitz played the whole game.

Afterward, Fitzgerald said he’s “been better” but said he’d be ready for this week. It would stun me if he wasn’t available — the last game Fitzgerald would ever want to miss is one in his home state of Minnesota. If he’s injured he’s injured, but I’d guess Fitz makes it work.

— I’ve covered Fitzgerald his whole career and he’s always been a great player. But one thing that’s really come into focus the last couple of seasons is how tough he is. He’s been tough blocking (doing something he still will say he doesn’t like to do) and he’s been tough playing through injuries — even if he won’t come out and call them injuries. If he did tear something, anything and still had a 12-catch game, most of them in traffic, it just underscores the thought.

— Chandler Jones two more sacks. Again, he’s been good.

— That’s the Floyd the Cardinals want and need. Great catches battling for the ball. The one he made on the final field-goal drive — after Carson Palmer bought some time and threw on the run, a nice play by him as well — was stellar and vintage Floyd. “Mentally I had to tell myself this is like playing in the sixth grade — going out and making plays,” Floyd said. Postgame was the first time Floyd really talked about making drops. The Cards hope it’s behind him.

— That last Palmer interception was straight out of first-half-of-2013 Palmer. He took way too long on the play he was stripped and lost the fumble too. Those are plays the Cardinals can’t afford to have Palmer make.

— Niners coach Chip Kelly said he didn’t really think about going for two with 1:55 left, instead kicking the extra point for the tie. His thoughts — which I agree with — is that a field goal still beats you and there was time for the Cards to get that field goal. “I didn’t want to lose it for them because I wanted to be a gunslinger and end up 20-19,” Kelly said.

— That 16-yard scramble Palmer had in the first half? Longest run of his career, which started in 2003.

— I thought David Johnson was going to have a huge game. And it’s funny, he still had 100 yards rushing + receiving and scored two touchdowns. Most guys would take that as a huge game. But we all know, against the league’s worst run defense, more was expected. It was a combination of things, I think. The blocking wasn’t great, no. Johnson could’ve avoided a loss a couple of times. But also, the Niners have heard for a minute now about giving up 100-yard rushers seven straight games. At some point, you gotta think there’s a little “no more” of a vibe.

That said, the Cardinals still have too many hiccups in getting yards — Sunday, it was in the air — but not enough touchdowns.

— A win is a win. It wasn’t the one everyone wanted, but I know this — it’s not a loss. I agree with Arians, it would’ve been over. But it isn’t.

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13 Responses to “Niners too-close-for-comfort aftermath”

  1. By georgiebird on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    A win is a win is a win.

    But after an extra week to prepare- this was Sad.

  2. By CARDS62 on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    Seattle just beat New England in New England and looked good doing it. Sure helps when you can play on the east coast at 5 PM. We now have two early morning road games against Minnesota and Atlanta. Hoping NFL will move at least one of these games to later in the day. It is the best time for us to get Minnesota coming off 4 straight losses.

    A lot of good in this 49ers game but also some bad.
    Fitz was incredible as always and Floyd showed up big, but JJ Nelson killed us with 2 turnovers and nothing on returns again.
    We finally play a very good first half, and Carson has a great first half and then we do not play well in the second half. Carson takes 2 bad sacks one a fumble and a horrible interception in second half. Carson leads two great two minute drives at end of both halves to get us 6 points and the victory.
    Our run defense very good, but not covering the QB run, and not getting off the field on 3rd down. Can not believe we had 49ers on 3rd and 19 from their own 5 yard line and we let them pick up 21 yards. Man I hate that! Blitz and make QB get rid of ball in under 2 seconds and then make the tackle.
    Offensively pass blocking good but we could not run the ball.
    Love how David Johnson kept his head in the game and had big plays for us on the final drive of the game after doing very little in the second half..

    We can not have 4 turnovers against the Vikings. We know Sam Bradford well so we should be able to contain their offense and get the win 20-10 with no turnovers.
    Go Cards! 4-4-1

  3. By jakeplummersghost on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    gotta catch and pass three of the redskins, giants, eagles and vikings for a wild card spot. We play the redskins and vikings so that’s a start.

    that last drive and FG felt like it could be the start of a new season for the cards…getting the GW FG monkey off Chandler’s back and having a nice clutch drive. Or you could take the fact that the cards played down to an inferior opponent most of the second half as a bad omen. We will see, but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. By CARDS62 on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    I really hate that Robert N. is inactive again. I know Coach gave players a week off to recover, but Robert has not played much and his butt should have been at the facilities working with coaches every day the past two weeks. Maybe he was and I hope he was, but I kind of doubt it based upon his inactive status. I just love players with passion like Fitz and David Johnson

  5. By Wild Blue Yonder fka Chuck 1 on Nov 13, 2016 | Reply

    When the Cards have to struggle to beat the woeful Niners, it’s obvious that they are NOT a playoff team.

  6. By Marcelof on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    key game is up ahead.

    When the season is over all that will be left out of this game vs niners will be a W as well as that unanswered T and that L against the Patriots. We got the much needed (and must) win against a poor team that has been beaten by basically everyone in this league.

    Vikings are around the corner, they haven’t been good after their bye but still they’re a hell of a team. Tough match in which Cards will show if they’re ready or not to go over the regular season.

    I haven’t watched the game – no broadcast down here – can anyone tell how the o-line played?

    Although we still have to face seatlle once more they’ll be tough to be reached, therefore a wildcard is a more suitable option, that said a lost vs Vikings may put an end to 2016.

  7. By shannon robinson on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    I’d give a game ball to John Wetzel. His pass blocking was great in my book and they targeted him with stunts and an extra man outside on occasion. Welcome aboard John to the starting 5. A tip of the Cardinals’ Wing to John Wetsel!

  8. By clssylssy on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    The 0-line was marginally better in protecting Carson however, don’t think they could have the same results against a defense like the Rams, Seattle, or Vikings.
    We couldn’t open up lanes for our run game so Carson had to pass…which says a lot; teams know that our small receivers can’t win the physical battles downfield and Floyd hasn’t proven to be dependable (which is where they were wrong yesterday). We need Larry and Mike playing off each other like yesterday and would have liked to have either in the end zone rather than JJ or John Brown who just aren’t physically big enough to win important matchups. Would have loved to have had Chris Johnson in there to find the skinny routes David can’t manage.
    Our defense didn’t look No. 1, as evidenced by the score. I fully expected see us give it up in the final minutes of the game.
    They need to ask Peterson to redo his contract (like Fitz has done twice) so that we can pay some of the other defensive players doing the heavy lifting!
    When we draft, we need to be looking for Larry Fitzgerald prototypes. He’s the Gold Standard and I hate to think where this team will be without him!

  9. By John The Draft Guy on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    Marcelof;

    The pass protection was good. The niners don’t have a good pass rush and the cards gave Palmer plenty of time. Palmer was able to step up in the pocket , so they did their job.

    As for the run game, the Oline got no push at all. Lots of missed blocks. I thought the TEs blocked really poor in the run game. The niners crowded the line and I have heard many use that excuse, but they were getting beat off their blocks, which was surprising.

  10. By Scott H on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    CARDS62 –

    RE: Nkemdiche inactive again

    Well, odds are that if a player is inactive at this point in the season, he was probably our first round pick. Happens every year, doesn’t it?

  11. By Scott H on Nov 14, 2016 | Reply

    I gotta disagree with the choice of words above where the Seahawks are concerned. I watched most of that game last night and I didn’t see a team that “hung on” to beat the Pats. I saw a team that went into New England – probably no tougher place to play on planet earth – and just won the game. Face it, the Seahawks are a team that knows how to win – especially in the 2nd half of the season. Russell Wilson is rounding into form and they are right on schedule.

    If Wilson stays healthy and reaches his “cruising altitude”…..forget it. The NFC West is already theirs. And Wilson is truly what separates them from us.

  12. By clssylssy on Nov 15, 2016 | Reply

    The Seahawks team philosophy is to “defend every blade of grass”…VERY GOOD mantra to have! They supposedly don’t have an 0-line but the entire offense works to defend Wilson so he can make plays. They may be our division rival but watching them play is never boring and we could learn a few things from them–you never see them slacking or playing less than a full sixty minutes. Beating them, or even getting a tie against them, raises our performance level and should be a blueprint of how every game should be played.

  13. By Kevin S Mesa on Nov 15, 2016 | Reply

    Scott H —

    Re: “hung on” reference

    While I didn’t make that reference, I think it was appropriate. NE had first and goal on the 2 and didn’t score. Mixed in there was a fumble by Brady on the 1 — when was the last time you saw him do that?

    Seattle is, in addition to being good, very lucky. We missed a chip-shot FG against them; they escaped home losses against Atlanta (no PI call on Sherman) and Buffalo (driving inside the 10 with less than a minute but then couldn’t score).

    The reality is, the difference between a great season and an OK season is winning a few close games. Last year, in addition to winning a number of games handily, we were 5-1 in the close ones (games within one score). Sometimes those games come down to just a few plays. I don’t remember all the games, but we could easily have lost to MN or Cincinnati in particular, and if memory serves, Baltimore had a shot at a game-tying TD at the end. Compare that to this year… Cat misses two FG’s, the one against the Patriots and the chip shot against Seattle… so instead of being tied with Seattle at 6-3 and owning the tiebreaker, we’re 4-4-1 to their 6-2-1. As bad as the season seems to have gone, two makeable FG’s and we’re in first place. If Cat makes those FG’s AND NE puts the ball in the end zone with four tries from the 2 yard line to force OT, and Atlanta gets that PI call on Sherman, we might be looking at a 6-3 AZ team with a two-game lead on a 4-5 Seahawks team.

    Seattle always finishes strong, and I fully expect them to this year as well, which is why we needed to win those games and stay even with them. I thought we still had a decent shot if they lost to NE. Now, however, we need to beat them in Seattle AND win at least one game more than they do out of the other six. That’s a really tall order, and so now I’d say if there is a path to the playoffs, it’s probably back to the wild card.

    I think 5-2 would be very optimistic and at 9-6-1 we’re not winning the division. We’d need help to get a WC. Hopefully Dallas beats all of its division rivals and knocks them all down another game. At this point, there are eight teams ahead of us, but four will win their division, so we just need to pass three. And two of the likely WC contenders, MN and Washington, we play head-to-head. Gotta win those.

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