Dec 26, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals outside linebacker Haason Reddick (43) causes a fumble by San Francisco 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard (3) in the second quarter at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports

49ers hand Cardinals costly defeat

C.J. Beathard threw two touchdown passes to Kyle Juszczyk, Jeff Wilson Jr. rushed for a career-best 183 yards and Ahkello Witherspoon thwarted a late Arizona Cardinals threat with an end-zone interception Saturday afternoon, lifting the visiting San Francisco 49ers to a 20-12 victory in Glendale, Ariz.

The loss was a costly one for the Cardinals (8-7), who with a third consecutive victory could have earned a wild-card playoff berth by winning their last two games. Instead, now the Chicago Bears (7-7) can eliminate Arizona by winning their last two, including Sunday at Jacksonville.

Juszczyk’s touchdown catches covered 9 yards in the third quarter and 1 yard in the fourth, allowing the 49ers (6-9), who snapped a three-game losing streak, to extend a 7-6 halftime edge.

When Robbie Gould missed right on his point-after attempt following Juszczyk’s second score with 8:36 remaining, the Cardinals needed a touchdown and two-point conversion to tie.

Murray drove Arizona to the San Francisco 14, but his floater intended for Christian Kirk was picked off by Witherspoon.

Arizona got the ball back one more time after Gould missed his second field goal attempt of the day, a 37-yarder with 1:09 remaining. But the Cardinals couldn’t get out of their own territory as Murray finished a 31-for-50, 247-yard, touchdown-less game.

Starting in place of injured Raheem Mostert, Wilson rushed 22 times and hauled in Beathard’s first of three touchdown passes, a 21-yarder in the first quarter.

Beathard, San Francisco’s third-stringer getting an opportunity with both Jimmy Garoppolo and Nick Mullens out, went 13-for-22 passing for 182 yards and the three scores.

DeAndre Hopkins was the game’s top pass-catcher with eight for 48 yards, while teammate Kirk went for a team-high 76 yards on seven catches.

Kenyan Drake scored Arizona’s only touchdown on a 1-yard plunge with 12:08 left in the game, but a two-point conversion pass from Murray to Hopkins went incomplete, leaving the Cardinals two points behind at 14-12.

George Kittle, returning to the San Francisco lineup after suffering a broken foot in Week 8, had a game-high 92 receiving yards on four receptions.

Arizona’s Mike Nugent sandwiched Wilson’s touchdown with a pair of field goals — from 27 and 43 yards — to keep the Cardinals with 7-6 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver Christian Kirk (13) against the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Cardinals still in playoff hunt as they battle ailing 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals meet up at a familiar setting when the NFC West rivals duel on Saturday afternoon in Glendale, Ariz.

The rematch of a 24-20 Arizona win in Week 1 has far more significance for the Cardinals (8-6), who remain in the running for an NFC playoff spot, than the 49ers (5-9), whose bid to repeat as conference champs officially ended with last week’s loss at Dallas.

Both teams will be playing on the State Farm Stadium field for the third time in the last four weeks, with the 49ers having been forced to relocate from Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., because of COVID-19 restrictions in the region.

The 49ers have lost their first two neutral-site games in Arizona, beaten in Week 13 by Buffalo 34-24 and then a week later by Washington 23-15.

The 49ers were thumped 41-33 at Dallas last week, and lost far more than just a game that eliminated them from playoff contention. Top running back Raheem Mostert has been ruled out for the season after aggravating a high ankle sprain in the loss, while quarterback Nick Mullens suffered an elbow injury that the 49ers fear could require Tommy John surgery.

Regular starter Jimmy Garoppolo has returned to practice after suffering an ankle injury against Seattle in Week 8, but San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan noted that he’s unlikely to get medical clearance to return to game action either this week or in the finale against Seattle, another game that will be played in Arizona.

“(He will play) only if the doctors told me it’s 100 percent safe and he feels good, and I’d be very surprised if that happens,” Shanahan reported. “Right now, he’s safe to go out to practice. It’ll be fun for him to throw the ball around a little bit, but we’re going to be very safe with him this week and we’ll see next week. But I’d be very surprised if that changes.”

Shanahan wouldn’t name a starter for the Arizona game as the practice week began, but by process of elimination, the last man standing appears to be C.J. Beathard, who came on in mop-up duty in Dallas and threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Kendrick Bourne on the final play of the game.

The 49ers have since gone out and plucked veteran Josh Rosen off the Tampa Bay practice squad to serve as Beathard’s backup.

The Cardinals, meanwhile, will take the field in third place in the NFC West, two games behind Seattle (10-4) and one back of the Los Angeles Rams (9-5). Arizona visits the Rams next week.

The Cardinals can clinch a wild card this weekend with a win over the 49ers and a Chicago (7-7) loss to Jacksonville (1-13).

Kyler Murray kept Arizona in a favorable position when he threw for a season-best 406 yards and three touchdowns in last week’s 33-26 home win over Philadelphia.

But like the 49ers, the Cardinals didn’t escape the game unscathed. Veteran wideout Larry Fitzgerald strained his groin and star linebacker Haason Reddick injured his shoulder in the win, leaving both a bit iffy for the San Francisco game.

Murray, who rushed for 91 yards but threw for just 230 in the earlier loss to the 49ers, warned not to overlook a prideful opponent.

“Good team,” he insisted. “They’ll be ready to go, obviously. It’s a divisional game. It’s going to be very competitive.”

–Field Level Media

Dec 20, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson (21) break up a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor (18) during the first half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Murray wins shootout with Hurts as Cardinals top Eagles

Kyler Murray passed for a career-high 406 yards with three touchdowns to lead the Arizona Cardinals to a 33-26 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles at Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday.

The game featured a shootout of two former Oklahoma standout quarterbacks — Murray and Philadelphia rookie Jalen Hurts.

Murray completed 13 straight passes at one point, tying his career high. He completed 27 of 36 pass attempts with one interception.

Hurts threw for 338 yards, while completing 24 of 44 passes with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.

The win for Arizona (8-6) strengthens its wild card bid with two regular-season games remaining. The Cardinals are currently in the last available playoff spot in the NFC at No. 7.

Philadelphia (4-9-1) is one game behind Washington (6-8) and the New York Giants (5-8) in the loss column in the NFC East standings. Dallas (5-9) is also in contention.

The Eagles tied the game after Murray was intercepted in the end zone by Marcus Epps.

On the ensuing possession, Hurts directed the Eagles on an 80-yard scoring drive capped by his 7-yard run that tied the game at 26 with 0:55 left in the third quarter. The hold for the extra-point attempt was mishandled by Hurts and the game remained tied.

Cameron Johnston, the Eagles’ punter, is normally the holder for placekicker Jake Elliott but he left the game in the first half with a head injury after a blocked punt by Arizona.

Arizona took its 33-26 lead with 7:17 left in the fourth quarter on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Murray to DeAndre Hopkins, culminating a seven-play, 86-yard drive.

Hopkins finished with nine receptions for 169 yards, his seventh game with at least 100 yards receiving this season.

On fourth-and-21 at the Arizona 22 with 1:50 left, Hurts’ pass to Dallas Goedert was knocked down by Cardinals safety Chris Banjo. The Eagles turned the ball over on downs after a 13-play possession.

After Arizona was forced to punt with 1:35 seconds left, Hurts drove Philadelphia to the Arizona 31 and his pass in the end zone to Travis Fulgham was knocked down by Dre Kirkpatrick as time expired.

Philadelphia rallied after trailing 16-0 with 2:23 left in the first quarter following a safety and a touchdown run and pass by Murray.

Murray’s 6-yard touchdown pass occurred two plays after Arizona’s Ezekiel Turner blocked the punt by Johnston.

Two touchdown passes by Hurts cut Arizona’s lead to 19-14 in the second quarter. Murray, 14 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, and Hurts, 5 yards to Greg Ward, added touchdown throws late in the half to make it 26-20 at the break.

–Field Level Media

Dec 13, 2020; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Giants wide receiver Golden Tate (15) catches a pass at the one yard line against Arizona Cardinals cornerback Byron Murphy Jr. (33) during the second half at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Reddick, Cardinals sack Giants, 26-7

Hasson Reddick set a franchise record with five sacks and Kenyan Drake rushed for 80 yards and a touchdown as the Arizona Cardinals notched a solid, 26-7 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday at East Rutherford, N.J.

Kyler Murray went 24-of-35 passing for 244 yards and a touchdown for the Cardinals (7-6), who bolstered their playoff positioning with just their second win in the past six games. DeAndre Hopkins caught nine passes for 136 yards, Dan Arnold made a touchdown catch and Mike Nugent kicked four field goals for Arizona, which had eight sacks overall.

Dion Lewis rushed for a touchdown for New York (5-8), which committed three turnovers and had its four-game winning streak snapped. Daniel Jones went 11-of-21 passing for 127 yards and was sacked six times, before Colt McCoy took over for the Giants’ final possession and was sacked twice by Reddick.

The loss dropped the Giants a half-game behind the Washington Football Team in the NFC East. Washington faced the San Francisco 49ers later Sunday.

Dennis Gardeck also had two sacks for Arizona, which held edges of 390-159 in total offense and 22-10 in first downs.

The defensive tone was set on the game’s first possession when Markus Golden sacked Jones and forced him to fumble. Golden scooped the ball and returned it 30 yards to New York’s 9-yard line, but the Cardinals came up empty when Murray’s pass was incomplete on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

Later in the quarter, Nugent kicked a 34-yard field goal with 6:30 left. He added a 37-yard field goal to make it 6-0 with 8:24 left in the half.

Lewis fumbled the ensuing kickoff when an inadvertent kick from the right leg of Arizona’s Kylie Fitts knocked the ball away and Trent Sherfield recovered it for the Cardinals at the Giants’ 21. Four plays later, Arnold made a leaping grab in the back of the end zone of Murray’s pass to increase the Arizona lead to 13 with 6:53 remaining.

The Cardinals received the ball to start the third quarter and traveled 77 yards on 11 plays in 6:08 to make it 20-0. Drake capped the march by leaping from the 1 and reaching the ball across the goal line.

The contest was more than 37 minutes old when the Giants crossed midfield for the first time on a 16-yard scamper by Wayne Gallman to the Arizona 46. Three plays later, Jones connected with Golden Tate on a 39-yard pass to the 1 and Lewis followed with the scoring run to get New York on the board with 5:38 left in the quarter.

Nugent added field goals of 34 and 30 yards in the fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; New York Giants quarterback Colt McCoy (12) looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the third quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Surging Giants look to keep Cardinals grounded

The suddenly hot New York Giants look to record their fifth consecutive victory when they host the downward-spiraling Arizona Cardinals on Sunday in East Rutherford, N.J.

The Giants (5-7) are tied for first place in the meek NFC East and are brimming with confidence after last Sunday’s 17-12 road upset over the Seattle Seahawks behind backup quarterback Colt McCoy.

“This team, everyone wants it,” said running back Wayne Gallman, who rushed for a career-high 135 yards against Seattle. “From our coaches, to our owners, to the players, we really want it. We know what we have and we just have to keep on going every week. We can’t take any week for granted. We just have to put that work in for the next four weeks that we have and see what happens.”

The Cardinals (6-6) are hoping for a victory after losing three straight and four of their last five.

The only triumph they have posted since October ended came courtesy of Kyler Murray’s “Hail Mary” touchdown toss to DeAndre Hopkins on the final play of the game to stun the Buffalo Bills, 32-30, on Nov. 15.

Otherwise, Arizona hasn’t looked sharp like the squad that jumped out to a 5-2 start and appeared capable of winning the tough NFC West. The Cardinals are in third place in the division, two games behind the Seahawks and Los Angeles Rams.

Arizona has experienced issues countering the defensive approaches of teams adamant on keeping the athletic Murray in the pocket. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury acknowledges that problem but sees other areas sputtering as well.

“These past three weeks, we haven’t hit a rhythm,” Kingsbury said. “Not only (Murray) not running, but other aspects of our offense haven’t been as sharp. We haven’t executed as well as we know we can. It’s a number of things that lead to where we are stalling out. When we’re playing in a rhythm and opening things up, then obviously it opens up him being able to use his legs more.”

Murray is certainly making good use of his legs with 10 running scores to complement his 22 touchdowns passes. He has passed for 2,987 yards and been intercepted 10 times.

But Murray was held to 170 passing yards by the New England Patriots two weeks ago and 173 by the Rams last week. His 53.8 completion percentage against Los Angeles — he completed 21 of 39 attempts — was his second lowest of the season.

“A lot of these games, we’re right there,” Murray said. “It’s just a couple things don’t go our way or we put pressure on ourselves.

“We make it harder than it has to be. If we just simplify these games, it’s pretty simple in itself, but at the same time it’s hard to execute at this level.”

Giants coach Joe Judge said he hopes to know on Friday whether quarterback Daniel Jones (hamstring) will return from a one-game absence.

Jones was injured during a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Nov. 29. McCoy finished that game and started in the upset of Seattle. He went 13-of-22 passing for 105 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

“My job is to do everything I can to get it ready to play,” Jones said on Wednesday. “Listen to what the trainers are telling me. Follow the program that’s been laid out. Just try to take every day and work to get it better and see where we are.”

New York has elevated its play on defense during the four-game winning streak by allowing an average of 16.5 points.

The unit regularly harassed Seattle’s Russell Wilson last Sunday and recorded a season-best five sacks. Defensive end Leonard Williams had 2.5 of them to increase his team-leading count to 8.5.

Linebacker Blake Martinez posted 10 tackles for his fifth double-digit outing of the season. He ranks third in the NFL with 111 tackles.

Safety Budda Baker has been Arizona’s top defensive player. He leads the team with 94 tackles and also has two interceptions and two sacks.

Veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald was activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list earlier this week and could return after a two-game absence.

The Cardinals have won four of the past five meetings against the Giants, including a 27-21 road win last season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald (11) against the Buffalo Bills at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Cardinals WR Fitzgerald tests positive

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald tested positive for COVID-19 and will miss Sunday’s game against the New England Patriots, NFL Network reported Thursday.

Fitzgerald, 37, has not missed a game since November 2014 and has played in 260 of a possible 266 games since the Cardinals drafted him No. 3 overall in 2004.

The 11-time Pro Bowl selection has 43 catches for 336 yards and no touchdowns through 10 games this season, his 17th in the NFL.

Fitzgerald ranks No. 2 in NFL history in receptions (1,421) and receiving yards (17,419) behind only Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. He is the active NFL leader with 120 touchdown catches, the sixth-most in league history.

–Field Level Media

Nov 15, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray (1) against the Buffalo Bills in the second half at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Kyler Murray files to trademark ‘Hail Murray’

Kyler Murray’s Week 10 touchdown heave to DeAndre Hopkins with two seconds left might go down in history as more than just a miraculous play that earned the Arizona Cardinals a 32-30 win over the Buffalo Bills.

It might double as an extra source of income for the 23-year-old quarterback.

The day after Murray’s Hail Mary beat the Bills, Murray’s representatives filed the necessary paperwork to trademark the term “Hail Murray” on Monday. They also filed for similar protection for “Murray Magic.”

The application is waiting for approval from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Murray’s filing says he plans to use the terms for apparel and entertainment services.

Murray’s sack-eluding scramble and 43-yard touchdown pass that Hopkins caught in the midst of three Bills defenders was the talk of the sports world this past week.

The second-year pro has already thrown for 2,644 yards and 19 touchdowns this season in 10 games after throwing for 3,722 yards and 20 touchdowns in 16 games as a rookie. He has also rushed for 619 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Murray’s Cardinals are 6-4, third place in the NFC West division.

–Field Level Media

Nov 19, 2020; Seattle, Washington, USA; Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson (3) throws a touchdown pass against the Arizona Cardinals during the second quarter at Lumen Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Seahawks hold off Cardinals, move atop NFC West

Carlos Hyde rushed for a season-high 79 yards and a touchdown and Russell Wilson threw two scoring passes as the Seattle Seahawks broke a three-way tie atop the NFC West with a 28-21 victory against the visiting Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.

The Seahawks (7-3) moved a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Rams (6-3), who play Monday at Tampa Bay, and a game ahead of the Cardinals (6-4).

Hyde was back in action after missing three games due to a hamstring injury.

The Seahawks’ league-worst defense limited the Cardinals’ top-ranked offense to 314 yards, more than 100 below their average (425.5). Arizona gained just 57 yards rushing after entering with a league-best average of 168.9 per game.

The Cardinals reached Seattle’s 27-yard line in the final minute, but recently acquisition Carlos Dunlap sacked Kyler Murray on fourth-and-10 to clinch the victory.

Wilson completed 23 of 28 passes for a season-low 197 yards but didn’t commit a turnover. He threw touchdown passes of 25 yards to DK Metcalf and 11 yards to Tyler Lockett in the first half, and the Seahawks took a 16-7 lead into intermission. Jason Myers kicked a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

Murray, who was 29 of 42 for 269 yards and two touchdowns, threw a 3-yard scoring pass to Chase Edmonds with 13:19 remaining to pull the Cardinals within 23-21.

Seattle punted on its next possession, but backed up the Cardinals to their own 14-yard line. Murray was called for intentional grounding on first down, putting the back at the 2, and J.R. Sweezy was flagged for holding in the end zone on the next play, giving the Seahawks a safety for a 25-21 lead and the ball.

Myers kicked a 41-yard field goal with 2:24 left to give the Seahawks a seven-point lead.

The teams traded touchdowns on their first possessions of the second half, both aided by personal foul penalties on the defense.

Murray threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Dan Arnold to pull the Cardinals within 16-14.

Hyde scored on a 2-yard run at the other end to extend Seattle’s lead back to 23-14.

–Field Level Media