Phil Dawson's 40-yard field goal as time expired lifted the San Francisco 49ers to a 23-20 triumph over the Red Birds yesterday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.
The loss, coupled with the Saints' victory over Tampa Bay, eliminated Arizona from playoff contention. The Cardinals finished a fine campaign at 10-6, five more wins than they had in 2012.
The 49ers concluded the regular season at 12-4 and earned the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs.
Two missed field goal by veteran Jay Feely really hurt the Cards in this hard-fought contest, including one from 37 yards away. Feely did nail a 43-yard FG with 34 seconds remaining to knot the game at 20-all. Arizona trailed 17-0 at one point.
Carson Palmer went 28 for 49 for 407 yards and two touchdowns and one interception. He was sacked just once. Jake Ballard caught a one-yard TD pass and Andre Roberts hauled in a 34-yard scoring strike from Palmer to tie the game at 17-17 with 3:20 left.
Palmer became the first QB in NFL history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season with three different teams. The others were the Bengals and Raiders. Larry Fitzgerald had six receptions for 113 yards while Michael Floyd added six catches for 91 yards.
Rashard Mendenhall (47 yards) and Andre Ellington (30 yards) were held to a combined 77 rushing yards.
Former Cardinal Anquan Boldin, playing in his first game against his former team, led the 49ers with nine receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown. Colin Kaepernick threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns.
San Francisco's NaVarro Bowman had an interception, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a sack in the 49ers' ninth victory in the last 10 meetings with the Cardinals.
Arizona's 10-6 mark equaled their best record since moving to Arizona in 1988. The Red Birds have built a strong foundation moving forward and head coach Bruce Arians did a superb job in his first year at the helm.
Despite the disappointment of not making the playoffs, things are looking brighter in the desert. It still stings to come so close though.
"That comeback was as good as I've been around against a very good football team," Arians told espn.com. "It just shows what they've been through, they're persevering and fighting for 60 minutes. The thing that's really bad about the NFL is how abruptly it ends. We were really hoping to be playing next weekend and obviously we're not."
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