Cardinals
49ers
17 - 20 Final
  for this game

49ers' late touchdown overcomes Cardinals

Sep 11, 2007 - 7:18 AM By Tom Kent PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

SAN FRANCISCO (Ticker) - The San Francisco 49ers could not move the ball until it counted.

Bottled up all game long, the 49ers went the length of the field for the winning score, a 1-yard touchdown by Arnaz Battle with 22 seconds to play, to defeat the Arizona Cardinals, 20-17, in the season opener for both teams Monday night.

Despite a hideous offensive performance, San Francisco (1-0) snapped a four-game losing streak against the Cardinals (0-1).

"We struggled all night," 49ers quarterback Alex Smith said. "It was frustrating on offense. Our guys stepped up on the final drive. We never quit believing and never stopped knowing that we were going to pull it out and win the game. I am so proud of this team."

Limited to just 109 total yards through the first 57 minutes, San Francisco put together an unlikely 12-play, 86-yard drive to wrest victory from the Cardinals.

"Offensively we saved our best for last," said 49ers coach Mike Nolan, who improved to 1-4 against Arizona. "That's about all I can say. After all, it's about winning and we were able to get it done."

The winning touchdown came on an end-around to Battle, one play after Battle had fumbled into the end zone where teammate Darrell Jackson recovered.

Because a team cannot advance a fumble into the end zone in the final two minutes unless it is recovered by the person who lost it, the ball was marked at the 1-yard line.

"Coach just called on me to make a play and I was able to do that it," Battle said. "The most important part is getting the victory and winning the game. It was a collective effort in this win."

Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt wasn't so sure Battle's catch and fumble should have counted as a reception. Terrence Holt knocked the ball loose from Battle just as he pulled the pass in and was about to cross the goal line.

"The big thing this year is they instituted a rule where if you get two feet down, it's considered a catch," Whisenhunt said. "I don't know if that's what happened, but I know they did change that."

Smith finished just 15-of-31 for 126 yards, but he was 6-of-10 for 60 yards on the decisive drive. The No. 1 overall pick in 2005, Smith also had a huge 25-yard scramble on 4th-and-1 to the Cardinals' 20 to keep the march alive.

"I knew they broke down," Smith said. "I felt I could make something happen with my feet and just get the chains to get another set of downs. I saw a lane over to the side and took it."

Arizona had one last gasp but Shawntae Spencer intercepted Arizona quarterback Matt Leinart's pass on first down.

Leinart had orchestrated a nine-play, 58-yard scoring drive and capped it off with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Anquan Boldin to give his team a 17-13 lead with just over 6 1/2 minutes to play.

The 10th overall pick in 2006, Leinart also scrambled for 20 yards on third down prior to connecting with Boldin for the go-ahead touchdown. He completed just 14-of-28 passes for 102 yards with one TD and two interceptions.

"In the end we need to get better," Leinart said. "We need to get better as an offense and as a team and I need to get better as a quarterback."

The comeback by the 49ers denied Whisenhunt a victory in his head coaching debut. The Cardinals' eighth coach since 1987, Whisenhunt spent three years as the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator, helping guide the team to a victory in Super Bowl XL.

"Obviously, it's a disappointing finish," Whisenhunt said. "Too many mistakes, especially starting the second half, but we had a chance at the end. We hung in there, but we just couldn't get it done. It was a disappointing loss for our football team."

The 49ers took advantage of an early mistake when cornerback Walt Harris picked off Leinart's pass and returned it 23 yards to the Cardinals' 6-yard line. Two plays later, Frank Gore powered into the end zone for the first score of the game.

"I was able to read the ball and make a play on it," Harris said. "The defense as a whole played real tough today and made a lot of plays."

Gore, who led the NFC in rushing last season with 1,695 yards, totaled 55 yards on 18 carries and a score.

With the 49ers leading, 7-3, early in the second quarter, Cardinals defensive end Antonio Smith recovered Smith's fumble and returned it the Niners' 36-yard line.

Edgerrin James then capped a five-play, 36-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run.

James, who gained 1,159 yards for Arizona last season and averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry, finished with 92 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown.

San Francisco kicker Joe Nedney connected on two field goals of 33 and 30 yards.

Niners rookie linebacker and first-round pick Patrick Willis was impressive in his NFL debut, managing nine tackles.

"It was really great to be out there in a regular-season game," Willis said. "Our guys played really great out there and proved we could make some plays on defense."

In a ceremony at halftime, the 49ers paid tribute to their late coach Bill Walsh, who guided San Francisco to three Super Bowl victories in his 10 years at the helm.

San Francisco also wore their 1981 "throwback" uniforms to commemorate the franchise's first Super Bowl victory under Walsh.

"It was a tribute to coach Walsh," Battle said. "I know he's up there looking down and smiling right now. He helped build this organization and it was great to get a win for him tonight."








  • NFL
    FINAL 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ARIZONA 0 10 0 7 17
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 3 3 7 20 FINAL
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SFO - TD, FRANK GORE 6 YD RUN (JOE NEDNEY
    KICK), 3:39. Drive: 2 plays, 6
    yards in 0:09. Key plays: W Harris
    23-yard interception return to
    Arizona 6. SAN FRANCISCO 7-0
    2ND QUARTER: ARI - FG,

    Sep 11 1:42 AM
  • MrEncinas NOOOOOO I got frank gore on my fantasy team :'(

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:35 AM


  • NFL
    TD SFO
    ARNAZ BATTLE 1 YD RUN
    (JOE NEDNEY KICK)
    ARIZONA 17
    SAN FRANCISCO 20 0:22 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:35 AM
  • 150
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    RUWTbot Added 45 roots (Close Finish)

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:35 AM
  • MrEncinas eric green may have just cost the cards the game

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:34 AM
  • 105
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    RUWTbot Added 22 roots (Close Finish)

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:26 AM
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    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:11 AM


  • NFL
    TD ARI
    ANQUAN BOLDIN 5 YD PASS FROM MATT LEINART
    (NEIL RACKERS KICK)
    ARIZONA 17
    SAN FRANCISCO 13 6:40 LEFT, 4TH QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 1:04 AM


  • NFL
    END, 3RD QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ARIZONA 0 10 0 10
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 3 3 13 END, 3RD QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SFO - TD, FRANK GORE 6 YD RUN (JOE NEDNEY
    KICK), 3:39. Drive: 2 plays, 6
    yards in 0:09. Key plays: W Harris
    23-yard interception return to
    Arizona 6. SAN FRANCISCO 7-0
    2ND QUARTER: AR

    Sep 11 12:44 AM


  • NFL
    FG SFO
    JOE NEDNEY 30 YD
    ARIZONA 10
    SAN FRANCISCO 13 11:15 LEFT, 3RD QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 11 12:17 AM
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  • NFL
    HALFTIME 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ARIZONA 0 10 10
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 3 10 HALFTIME
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SFO - TD, FRANK GORE 6 YD RUN (JOE NEDNEY
    KICK), 3:39. Drive: 2 plays, 6
    yards in 0:09. Key plays: W Harris
    23-yard interception return to
    Arizona 6. SAN FRANCISCO 7-0
    2ND QUARTER: ARI -

    Sep 10 11:45 PM


  • NFL
    FG SFO
    JOE NEDNEY 34 YD
    ARIZONA 10
    SAN FRANCISCO 10 3:35 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 11:32 PM


  • NFL
    TD ARI
    EDGERRIN JAMES 7 YD RUN
    (NEIL RACKERS KICK)
    ARIZONA 10
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 9:10 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 11:16 PM


  • NFL
    FG ARI
    NEIL RACKERS 35 YD
    ARIZONA 3
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 12:51 LEFT, 2ND QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 11:04 PM


  • NFL
    END, 1ST QTR 1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
    --- --- --- --- -----
    ARIZONA 0 0
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 7 END, 1ST QTR
    SCORING SUMMARY
    1ST QUARTER: SFO - TD, FRANK GORE 6 YD RUN (JOE NEDNEY
    KICK), 3:39. Drive: 2 plays, 6
    yards in 0:09. Key plays: W Harris
    23-yard interception return to
    Arizona 6. SAN FRANCISCO 7-0

    Sep 10 10:58 PM
  • bones is the nfl playing with australian rules tonight? Can't remember the last time I saw so many footballs coughed up

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 10:47 PM


  • NFL
    TD SFO
    FRANK GORE 6 YD RUN
    (JOE NEDNEY KICK)
    ARIZONA 0
    SAN FRANCISCO 7 11:21 LEFT, 1ST QTR

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 10:36 PM
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    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 5:16 PM
  • mark i need a touchdown from boldin tonight. bad.

    Cardinals vs. 49ersSep 10 2:20 PM
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  • zoubey the 9ers got this one in the bag

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