After the first quarter, it appeared as if the San Francisco 49ers were on their way to an easy win as they jumped out to a 17-0 lead over the Arizona Cardinals in their Week 17 game. There were many reasons to believe the 49ers would end up winning the game much more comfortably than one would imagine, as the offense, defense and special teams all executed and played well, showing no signs of an emotional letdown after a dramatic win last Monday night.
Then, the Cardinals defense began to hunker down and started to force the 49ers into several three and outs along the way while the 49ers also decided to not slam the door shut on the game by giving away at a minimum six points on two drives to close out the first half and early in the third quarter with a Phil Dawson missed 24-yard field goal as part of that equation. All this meant that the Cardinals found themselves tying the game at 17-17 after a 34-yard touchdown catch from wide receiver Andre Roberts and then Jay Feely’s 43-yards field goal to tie it at 20-20 with 29 seconds left in the game.
When it appeared that the 49ers would be handed a bad loss, they found a way make enough plays to leave the Valley of the Desert with a win to close out the regular season on a six-game winning streak. LaMichael James had a 36-yard kickoff return to the 41-yard line, which gave the 49ers a chance to think about a potential game-winning field goal. Then, as he has done countless times in the last four games, Colin Kaepernick made two big time completions, first to Anquan Boldin and the second to rookie Quinton Patton to set up Dawson for the game-winning field goal, which he would make from 40 yards out.
Once again, the 49ers found themselves in a position where they had to pull off a win late and in dramatic fashion to close out a 12-4 regular season. That said, they can once again carry on into the playoffs with the belief and knowledge that when they need to make a play or two at the end to pull off a win, they are more than capable of doing so. With the Green Bay Packers as their opponent in the Wildcard round, pulling off a late win to close out the regular season will give them a necessary boost for a game that will very likely come down to the end.