The Arizona Cardinals face the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., in NFL Week 18, Arizona’s final game of the season. Follow our score updates and analysis on the game below.
Kittle wins battle vs. Simmons
George Kittle’s touchdown catch in which he tip-toed and got his two feet in the end zone against the coverage of the Cardinals’ Isaiah Simmons, gave the 49ers a 21-13 lead with 19 seconds to go in the first half.
The Cardinals’ defense has had some moments, but the 49ers have been able to move the ball for the most part. It goes to halftime with San Francisco up by eight.
Arizona quarterback David Blough is 12 of 14 for 164 yards, 77 to A.J. Green earlier in the game. He has an interception and touchdown pas.
A Cardinals touchdown drive, 6 for Clement
The Cardinals made it 14-13 with 4:41 to go in the second quarter, as Corey Clement ran in for a one-yard touchdown. It’s Clement’s first since 2020 when he was a Philadelphia Eagle.
Clement has eight rushing touchdowns and three receiving scores in six NFL seasons. He’d spent time on the Cardinals’ practice squad earlier this season, but found himself as a starter Sunday due to injuries.
49ers go up 8
The 49ers took advantage of an interception deep in Cardinals territory, with Elijah Mitchell running five yards for a touchdown. San Francisco took a 14-6 lead with 12:07 to play in the first half.
David Blough was trying to throw downfield to Hollywood Brown, but overthrew him and was picked off.
A sack for J.J. Watt? Of course
Midway through the first quarter, J.J. Watt sacked Brock Purdy after overpowering 49ers guard Spencer Burford. That’s 11.5 sacks on the season for Watt. He records one in his last game in the NFL.
On the FOX broadcast, Watt’s high school coach in Wisconsin had a message for Watt via video. Watt took a bow after the sack.
A.J. Green scores on trick play
The Cardinals scored a touchdown just 26 seconds into the game. A.J. Green caught a deep ball from David Blough and muscled his way up the field for his second TD of the season. If this is Green’s last NFL game, what a way to go out.
Our Bob McManaman suggested early in the week that Green be the primary receiving target for the Cardinals today, just to help him go out with a bang. Still plenty of time to play for Green to have a big day.
As this was written, the 49ers marched down the field quickly and scored on former Gilbert Perry star Brock Purdy’s screen pass to Christian McCaffrey, who took it to the end zone. 7-6 SF with 10:40 to go in the first.
Cardinals 2023 schedule set; Top of draft shakeup
The Cardinals’ 2023 list of opponents is set following the results of Sunday’s early games. The team will play nine road games and eight at home. There will be a lot of travel with four Eastern time zone trips and two in Central time.
Also, Houston’s comeback win over Indianapolis ensure that the Chicago Bears, who lost Sunday to Minnesota, moved into the top spot for the No. 1 overall draft pick this offseason. The Texans dropped to No. 2.
The Cardinals hold the fourth pick for the moment but can move to third or drop to as low as sixth.
Inactives vs. 49ers
Here is the list of inactive players for the Cardinals. Of note, DeAndre Hopkins could have already played his last game in an Arizona uniform, should a trade as part of a potential Cardinals rebuild happen in the offseason.
Kelvin Beachum and Jalen Thompson become the only two players to start all 17 games for the Cardinals.
Setting up Sunday at San Francisco
The Cardinals’ 2022 season has at last, to the relief of many, come to an end. The team’s finale at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., has several implications.
For the Cardinals, it is the final game of longtime star NFL defensive lineman J.J. Watt, who announced his retirement a few weeks ago. Watt is the player to watch Sunday for the Cardinals. He plays with so much emotion and this is an emotional day for Watt and his family.
Wide receiver A.J. Green spoke to reporters this week about his possible retirement. He’s also been to multiple Pro Bowls and been a top receiver in the NFL, and might also be playing in his last game ever. This could also be the final games in Cardinals uniforms for a number of free-agents-to-be.
Beyond that, it’s a waiting game to see what Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill decides as far as the employment status of head coach Kliff Kingsbury and general manager Steve Keim, plus Kingsbury’s assistant coaches. A loss will give Arizona its third-lowest winning percentage in 35 seasons in the state. Was the high amount of drama and mishaps and bad luck in 2022 enough for Bidwill to make sweeping changes?
All that is left to do is end the season and watch whatever happens unfold.
For the 49ers, of course, the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs is on the line. They’ll need help to get it even if they win, but their path toward a possible Super Bowl in the Phoenix area next month starts as soon as next weekend.
The game can be seen at 2:25 p.m. on Fox.
Chris Myers (play-by-play) and Robert Smith (analyst) will be in the broadcast booth.
Jen Hale will be the sideline reporter.
The 49ers are a 14-point favorite in the game.
The 49ers are -1200 on the money line in the game.
The Cardinals are +800.
The over/under for the game is set at 40 points.
Most sites are predicting that the 49ers will win the game, at they have San Francisco covering the point spread.
The Arizona Republic’s Jeremy Cluff predicted a final score of 49ers 27, Cardinals 10 in his NFL Week 18 picks and predictions.
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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers NFL Week 18 score updates