2) Frank Gore, a perennial Cardinals killer, rushed for 72 yards, but if you take away his 37-yard touchdown gallop, he only gained 35 yards the rest of the entire game. Stopping Gore was a big reason why the Cardinals were able to control this game and pull out a victory.
3) Skelton continues to be an enigma to me. He looked absolutely awful in the first half, missing receivers and barely moving the offense (save for the 60-yard touchdown to Doucet). But I have to admit, the kid has great pocket presence, and he was able to buy enough time to find his receivers in the second half and give the Cardinals the chance to pull out a victory. Is he the Cardinals quarterback of the future? Absolutely not. Was he an adequate replacement? For a while there, I wasn’t sure, but he made a believer out of me.
4) I was very worried about Michael Crabtree burning our secondary. He did catch seven passes, but his longest reception was only 15 yards and the Cardinals secondary did a great job in making sure that he didn’t make any big plays against them.
5) Patrick Peterson looked much better on pass defense than he has in any other game he has played. And he will only get better as he gains more and more experience covering NFL receivers. No big punt returns today, but certainly a good game as a cornerback.
6) Message to Rod Graves: Re-sign Calais Campbell to a new long-term deal. He is a unique defensive specimen who brings a rare combination of speed, strength, and pass blocking ability that very few defensive linemen possess.
7) The offensive line wasn’t very good at opening up any holes for Beanie Wells. But they were more than adequate at protecting the quarterback. Kudos to the big guys up front, who did their job well today.
8) It has been awhile since I have seen the defensive guys play as aggressively as they played against the Niners. There were five to six guys involved in almost every tackle as they swarmed the ball carrier virtually every play. The defensive linemen and linebacker harrassed Alex Smith all game, and sacked him five times. Adrian Wilson seemed to be everywhere. The secondary coverage was stellar. Yes, Fitz had an amazing game, but give the game ball to the entire defense, which held the Niners to four field goals that could have easily been three touchdowns—and been the difference between a win and a loss.
9) It’s too bad that Minnesota could not beat the Lions on the final play, and the Panthers couldn’t hold onto a big lead and beat the Falcons. It would have been nice to pick up a game on these two teams in the playoff hunt. But the Cardinals still have an outside chance at gaining a wild card berth. They simply have to keep on winning, and see where the chips may fall with respect to the other teams that are currently ahead of them.
10) That last-gasp fourth and 1 play for the 49ers felt like an eternity before Alex Smith’s pass finally fell incomplete and the Cardinals ran out the clock. For the record, the play took thirteen seconds. I cannot remember seeing an incomplete pass ever taking that long!