Cardinals' punchless loss to 49ers opens playoff door for Bears

Jack Baer
·3-min read

The Arizona Cardinals couldn’t effectively move the ball against the San Francisco 49ers and lost 20-12 on Saturday. Now they’ve entered the danger zone in the NFC playoff race.

Down eight points at the start of the fourth quarter after a rough three quarters against Robert Saleh’s Niners defense, the Cardinals appeared to find some life after Murray hit KeeSean Johnson for a 45-yard pass to set up a touchdown. However, Murray misfired to DeAndre Hopkins on the two-point conversion attempt.

That would be only the first of several missed opportunities on both sides for the rest of the game.

The Niners missed their chance to go up two scores on a late touchdown when kicker Robbie Gould missed an extra point, giving the Cardinals a chance to march down the field and ... watch Murray throw an interception to Ahkello Witherspoon in the end zone on fourth-and-2 from the San Francisco 14.

What followed then was a clock-eating 65-yard drive for the Niners, which ended with Gould getting another chance to go up two scores, this time a 37-yard field goal attempt. Gould went wide left, his third missed kick of the day.

That gave the Cardinals one more chance to tie the game, but the drive ended with a turnover on downs in Arizona territory and Murray limping off the field.

It was a rough day for Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)
It was a rough day for Kyler Murray and the Arizona Cardinals. (AP Photo/Rick Scuteri)

Murray finished the day 31-of-50 for 247 passing yards, no touchdowns and an interception, with 75 rushing yards.

Where the NFC playoff picture stands

The loss moves the Cardinals to 8-7, and they’re now in position to let the NFC’s final playoff spot slip away if the Chicago Bears defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday. (The Bears seem well aware of that fact.)

A Bears win would move them ahead of the Cardinals by virtue of a tiebreaker. The Bears play the Green Bay Packers in the final week of the season, while the Cardinals play the Los Angeles Rams. The Cardinals would need a win and a Bears loss to jump pack into the playoff picture.

Jeff Wilson Jr. runs wild for Niners

While the Cardinals offense struggled, it was a Niners offense missing its top quarterback and running backs that impressed.

Jeff Wilson Jr. came up huge with 183 rushing yards on 22 carries, plus this 21-yard touchdown catch.

Even with the Cardinals frequently stacking the box, they just couldn’t stop Kyle Shanahan’s rushing attack.

C.J. Beathard was efficient under center, going 13-of-22 for 182 passing yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.

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