Palmer’s 8-yard TD run leads first-place Cards past 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) — Give Carson Palmer some style points for punctuating the Cardinals’ latest win, however silly it looked when he tumbled over after spiking the ball.
Even if a few teammates feared he might be hurt.
“I’m taking a lot of heat for that and I could care less. The teasing’s not going to stop,” he said. “More looks than comments, more just laughs and head shaking. But the comments will come as soon as we get on the plane.”
Palmer ran for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 2:28 left and tumbled after spiking the ball in a telling story of his day, and NFC West-leading Arizona squeaked by the San Francisco 49ers 19-13 on Sunday for its fifth straight win and first road victory in the series since September 2008.
Moments earlier, Palmer fell backward as he released the ball and completed a 34-yard pass to J.J. Nelson to put Arizona on the 1.
Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra-point try, giving Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers (3-8) one more chance with 2:21 left. Anquan Boldin caught an 18-yard pass on fourth-and-20 to clinch the win for Arizona.
“The last drive was kind of indicative of the way the day was, Carson stumbling and bumbling into the end zone. Horrible spike, missed extra point,” wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald said. “It wasn’t pretty. But I’ve been around enough to know that any way you can get a win is a good one.”
It certainly wasn’t the best day for the NFL’s top-ranked offense as San Francisco outgained Arizona 368-337. Coach Bruce Arians’ bunch will take it nonetheless.
With Arizona down two running backs, David Johnson ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the third for the Cardinals (9-2), who have nine wins in their first 11 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history and fifth time overall.
Fitzgerald had 10 catches for 66 yards, surpassing Hall of Famer Steve Largent for 16th place on the career list for yards receiving and moving him into 12th place for receptions past Randy Moss.
A diving Fitzgerald dropped the ball in the end zone with 4:04 left in the first quarter, and Arizona settled for Catanzaro’s 26-yard field goal. He added a 41-yarder early in the second.
Palmer was 24 of 40 for 271 yards and improved to 22-4 over his last 26 starts.
On a day when its defense largely stood its ground, San Francisco committed 13 penalties for 81 yards to help the Cardinals’ cause. There was a costly roughing the passer flag on Quinton Dial during the winning drive.
“There’s no debate here,” Palmer said. “He hit me right in the face with the crown of his helmet.”
Dial thought he was making a legal play as it unfolded.
“When I watched the replay, I saw he kind of ducked into it,” Dial said. “There was nothing I could do at that point, just go into him.”
Boldin finished with eight catches for 93 yards against his old team as the 49ers were eliminated from the division race in yet another mistake-filled performance.
San Francisco had two penalties on one play with 7:13 to go, including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct by wideout Torrey Smith with the defense on the field when he made contact with the side referee.
“The officials were struggling mightily,” Arians said.
Palmer completed a 48-yard pass to John Brown on the second snap of the third quarter, and then took advantage of five penalties — four pass interference calls and an illegal hands to the face — as Arizona finally scored a touchdown.
“I’ve never seen four penalties like that in one possession,” Fitzgerald said.
Gabbert was 25 of 36 for 318 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald in the third. Gabbert hit Smith for a 41-yard completion and had far more success than predecessor Colin Kaepernick did in a four-interception day back in a 47-7 loss at Arizona in Week 3.
Phil Dawson kicked a 53-yard field goal as the first half expired and a tying 33-yarder in the third for his 18th straight made kick.
Arizona earned its first win on San Francisco’s home field since a 23-13 Week 1 victory on Sept. 7, 2008, at Candlestick Park, snapping a six-game skid. Only three current Cardinals had won previously at San Francisco: Calais Campbell, Fitzgerald and Lyle Sendlein.
NOTES: McDonald made six catches for 71 yards after fellow tight end Garrett Celek was carted off with 3:46 left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. X-rays were negative. ... Arizona CB Jerraud Powers injured his calf in the third, while RB Andre Ellington hurt a foot and RB Chris Johnson a knee.
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