Entering Week 14 of the 2011 regular season, the 10-2 San Francisco 49ers went on the road to face the division rival Arizona Cardinals for their second match of the season. With a strained hamstring, Larry Grant was starting for an injured Patrick Willis. Braylon Edwards was active on the day.
The Cardinals won the toss and elected to defer.
With twins-right, Frank Gore got the handoff on first down took it up the right side for 8 yards. From an empty backfield on 2nd and 2, Smith from the shotgun delivered a pass to Kyle Williams on the crossing route for a first down. Smith then threw short to his full back Bruce Miller on the right side line for no gain.
On 2nd and 10, Gore was stopped short after a gain of only 1. On 3rd and 8, Adam Snyder received a false start penalty to put the 49ers in third and long. On 3rd and 13, Smith to Michael Crabtree went incomplete with tight coverage by safety Adrian Wilson. Wilson and Crabtree were shoving and trash talking a bit after the play.
Andy Lee booted one with great coverage by C.J. Spillman; a 60-yard punt put the Cardinals offense inside their own 15. On 2nd and 8, Kevin Kolb rolled out on play-action, hit by Ahmad Brooks but completed to his tight end Jeff King for 2 yards.
On 3rd and 6, Justin Smith bull rushed his way to Kolb and got to the football, sacking the quarterback and knocking the ball loose, and recovered by Arizona - 4th down.
On first down, Smith got hit but delivered to Ted Ginn Jr. for a gain of 7. On 2nd and 3, Smith's pass was deflected by Darnell Dockett. On third and short, Kendall Hunter took a pitch left but Adrian Wilson came up to make the tackle for the loss, forcing a 4th down.
On 4th and 5, the 49ers decided to go for it: from the shotgun with 3 wide receivers, Smith took the snap, felt pressure, stepped up and checked down to Hunter who took it for a first down.
On third and long, the Cardinals attacked that left side of the line again and closed on Smith for a second consecutive sack - downed by Adrian Wilson and Calais Campbell. Fortunately, Wilson was called for a facemask which gave the 49ers a fresh set of downs; a huge break for San Francisco.
Hunter got two consecutive carries for short gains, putting the 49ers in third and medium. On 3rd and 7, Smith could not find anyone open, held onto the ball too long and got taken down for a sack by a blitzing Patrick Peterson.
David Akers came out for the 46-yard field goal to put the 49ers up 3-0.
John Skelton came out after Kolb suffered a blow to the head, and was in the locker room. On 2nd and 7, Skelton completed to Larry Fitzgerald near the left sideline for a short gain. On 3rd and 2, Skelton out of the shotgun could not complete it to Andre Roberts on the shallow cross.
On 1st and 10, Gore took a misdirection pitch up the right side for an 18-yard gain, breaking 1,000 yards on the season. On 2nd and 14, Smith on play-action got hit but threw deep to Ginn downfield who beat his one-on-one, but the receiver could not locate the football - losing it before it dropped down in front of him.
On 3rd and 14, Smith delivered on a slant to Crabtree for a gain of 7 before the 49ers punted. Andy Lee punted to the ARI-1; it bounced, Spillman lept, threw it back to Blake Costanzo and it was downed at the 1-yard line.
Andy Lee and the Tony Montana Squad strike again.
Beanie Wells got the carry for a couple of yards to inch out of their end zone. On 2nd and 8 from the 3 yard line, a slant to Fitzgerald goes incomplete; Tarell Brown with great anticipation and coverage on the receiver to force the incompletion. With Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith in his face, Skelton missed a wide open Early Doucet who got free down the right sideline.
The Cardinals punted to Ted Ginn Jr. who busted free from his own 45-yard line, delivered a 52-yard punt return inside the ARI-5.
On 1st and goal, Smith went quickly to Braylon Edwards in the end zone, incomplete. A handoff to Frank Gore on 2nd and goal was stuffed for a loss of 1. On third down, Smith went through his progressions and threw it away, settling for another field goal - the 49ers red zone offense stuttered again and Akers made it a 6-0 lead.
A play-action pass from Skelton, with time, delivered to Fitzgerald for a nice gain and a first down. On the following play, Wells took the handoff for no gain with Donte Whitner on the hit. On 3rd and 7, Skelton escaped the sack, scrambled for a first down, but Aldon Smith chased him down and tomahawked the ball out for a fumble, recovered by Ray McDonald.
On first down, Smith threw the screen to Hunter who took it up the right side for a first down, with blocks from Jonathan Goodwin and Mike Iupati. Cardinals lineman Nick Eason got through and took down Smith for a sack and a loss of 8. 2nd and 18, Smith threw to Williams for a gain of 12 yards on the slant.
On third down, Smith delivered a perfect strike on the slant to Crabtree, beating Peterson for the first down. Calais Campbell then dropped Gore for a loss of three on first down. On 3rd and 13, Anthony Davis drew a false start, which backed the Niners up 5.
On 3rd and 18, Smith slipped, evaded the sack, recovered and threw downfield to Kyle Williams who made an outstanding catch, to at least put the 49ers in field goal range.
Akers came out - IT WAS A FAKE! - Andy Lee sprinted with the ball from the holder's position, and threw complete to center Jonathan Goodwin. Unfortunately, the whistle blew "before the snap": Arizona was said to have challenged the play prior.
The referees wanted to review when the whistle blew (before or after the snap) but there "was a problem with the re-play" so they could not, and therefor they ruled a repeat of 4th down. But for the record, the first whistle blew after the snap - they showed a replay after. Akers field goal attempt sailed right, giving the Cardinals pretty good field position.
Skelton on first down threw to receiver Early Doucet in front of Dashon Goldson, who took it 60-yards for a touchdown. Arizona took the lead 7-6 in the first half.
A quick pass to Delanie Walker off the snap went for a 6-yard loss after Walker danced too much on the screen. On 2nd and 16, Gore took the handoff left for a gain of 4. On 3rd and 12, Williams made the reception and cut up field for a 14-yard gain and a big first down
On 2nd and 5, Smith hit Crabtree on the crossing route who took it up for 15-yards and a first down in Arizona territory. On first down, Smith delivered to Davis on a shallow cross, then the tight end used his athleticism and hurt the Cardinals for 32-yards.
An end around to Kyle Williams went for a medium gain before he was knocked out at the ARI-6. On third down, Alex Smith scrambled out left but was taken down for a loss of three - and the red zone issues continue. Akers came out and hit a 27-yarder to give the 49ers back the lead at 9-7.
Skelton threw to his receiver downfield, but Whitner broke on the ball, it went deflected and picked off by Dashon Goldson.
Bruce Miller made a 5-yard catch out of the backfield on 2nd down. On 3rd and 5, Smith threw to Ginn on the out-route for the first down inside the ARI-5. On 1st and goal, Smith went incomplete to Ginn on the fade to the right corner. On 2nd down, Smith threw the ball away with no one open.
With only 4 second left before halftime, the 49ers send out Akers again to put points on the board, giving San Francisco a 12-7 lead going into the half.
On 1st and 10, a holding penalty on Jeff King took away a Skelton-Fitzgerald first down connection. On 1st and 20, a false start backed them up another 5 yards. On 1st and 25 from their own 5, Wells took a handoff for two yards before he was stopped by Justin Smith.
On 3rd and 23, the 49ers went with a three man rush and with coverage downfield, Aldon Smith shook loose and wrapped up Skelton for a sack (10.5 on the season).
On 1st and 10, faking the fly-sweep to Ginn, Gore took the handoff up the middle, and broke loose for a 37-yard touchdown. Big props to Crabtree who ran with him the whole way; No. 15 tagged a defender downfield who would've otherwise tackled Gore, and prevented the touchdown. The score by Gore made it 19-7, San Francisco over Arizona.
On 2nd and 5, a hook-route is broken up by Chris Culliver, but Larry Grant was called for roughing the passer (hit at the knee). On 3rd and 3, Skelton hit Doucet for a 4-yard gain and a first down. On 2nd down, Skelton threw high to Fitzgerald who lept above the defender (Goldson), made a circus catch and finished the play for a 46-yard touchdown. The touchdown inched the game closer at 19-14, with San Francisco still on top.
On 2nd and 8, Smith threw short to Braylon Edwards and the ball bounced off the receiver's back. On 3rd and 8, Smith from the shotgun put one at Davis' feet who was near the first down marker.
On first down, Skelton shovel passed to LaRod Stephens-Howling who took it for a gain of 18. The 49ers got the Cardinals in a third and medium, where Skelton's pass was broken up by Larry Grant.
On 2nd and 10, Hunter gained two. On 3rd and 8, Smith from the shotgun delivered to Crabtree on the crossing route short of the first down but drive stalled.
On 1st down, Skelton hit Fitzgerald for a 15-yard pick up and a fresh set of downs, Brown on the coverage. Skelton, with no one open, scrambled for 14-yards and a first down. On 2nd and 10, the quick pass was caught by Jeff King for a gain of 8 to make it third and short.
On 3rd and 2, Skelton evaded the Aldon Smith would-be sack, threw off the fingertips of Fitzgerald, and Brown scooped the deflection for an interception.
A hit on a defenseless receiver on the Cardinals gave the 49ers offense 15-yards and a first down. Kendall Hunter gained 5 yards up the middle on first down. On 3rd and 5, Smith from the shotgun threw across the field to an open Delanie Walker sitting on the sideline, but he dropped the ball that hit him right in the hands.
Great, great coverage by the Tony Montana Squad again against a very good return man in Patrick Peterson. They were getting downfield quickly, boxing him in and not allowing him any seams.
On 2nd and 5, Skelton on play-action hit Fitzgerald in the middle of the field. Fitzgerald beat Rogers, and took the reception 53-yards, breaking tacklers for huge yards after the catch - eventually brought down by Whitner. Doucet took a screen pass on a nicely-designed play who took it short of the end zone for a first down. Skelton on first down hit the slant to Roberts for a touchdown to give the Cardinals the 21-19 go-ahead lead.
On 2nd and 8, Hunter took it for a medium gain on an inside run. On 3rd and 2, Smith threw downfield, way overthrowing his receiver in Davis - and the 49ers had to punt.
Brooks coming fast off the edge busted up the run play, taking down Stephens-Howling for a loss on 2nd down. On 3rd and 4, Skelton from the shotgun delivered to Roberts for the first down. Skelton side-armed to Fitzgerald around the defender for 8 yards on first down.
On 3rd and 1, the Cardinals went with the run but was stuffed by the 49ers front seven led by Larry Grant.
On 2nd and 16, Smith threw in the middle to Crabtree for a medium gain. On 3rd and 6, Smith stepped up and with pressure, put one at the feet of Kyle Williams on the slant.
On a Cardinals 3rd and 13, Chester Taylor took the screen but Goldson stopped him two yards short of the first down.
Smith to Crabtree on first down for 5 yards; Crabtree stepped out of bounds to stop the clock. On 2nd and 10, Smith to Crabtree for a nice gain just short of the first down. On 3rd and 1, Calais Campbell batted down Smith's pass at the line. Going for it on 4th and 1, Smith from the shotgun scrambled like a chicken with his head cut off for 15 yards back, scrambled up, pointed Hunter open and delivered a catchable ball to him but it was dropped by the receiver.
With the 49ers out of timeouts, the Cardinals would knee on it and hand the 49ers their third loss of the season.