49ers deny sloppy Cardinals NFC West title
Published 8:19 am Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Arizona Cardinals threw away a chance to clinch a second straight NFC West crown.
Alex Smith threw touchdown passes after two of Arizona’s seven turnovers, Frank Gore ran for 167 yards and another score and the San Francisco 49ers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a dominant 24-9 victory Monday night.
With a relentless defensive attack, San Francisco forced the sloppy Cardinals into five first-half turnovers and kept Kurt Warner from finding a groove. Warner threw two interceptions in the opening half after going 130 passes without a pick.
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Arizona (8-5) can still clinch the division by winning two of its final three games.
“Getting a win against a team playing great ball that had a chance to clinch the division, we came out and dominated,” Gore said. “They let me get in the zone. Any back who gets in that zone, it’s hard to stop them.”
Gore had his most productive game since Week 2, running over a Cardinals defense that held Adrian Peterson to just 19 yards in a win against Minnesota last week. Gore was certainly motivated for a big night after getting only 30 yards on 22 carries in a season-opening victory at Arizona on Sept. 13.
Smith, coming off a loss at Seattle last week in which he threw for a career-high 310 yards, connected on TD passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree and finished 19 of 35 for 144 yards. The 49ers (6-7) answered coach Mike Singletary’s challenge to make a statement on the national stage against the reigning NFC champions.
The Cardinals had their second game with six or more turnovers of the season, much to the delight of the sellout crowd at Candlestick Park. The 49ers had a franchise-record five forced fumbles, two by safety Dashon Goldson.