Palmer's 8-yard TD run leads first-place Cards past 49ers
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Carson Palmer and the Arizona Cardinals had to squeak one out in ugly fashion at San Francisco to keep their winning streak alive.
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 the Cardinals topped the 49ers 19-13 on Sunday for their 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.
It certainly wasn't pretty for the NFL's top-ranked offense as San Francisco outgained Arizona 368-337. Coach Bruce Arians' bunch will take it nonetheless.
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.
Larry 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.
San Francisco committed 13 penalties for 81 yards to help the Cardinals' cause.
Boldin finished with eight catches for 93 yards against his old team as the 49ers were eliminated from the NFC West 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.
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.
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.
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.