Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 30, Packers 22

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Maiocco's Instant Replay: 49ers 30, Packers 22

BOX SCORE

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- In the regular-season opener, the 49ers skipped ahead to midseason form for the first three quarters.The 49ers were nearly perfect in all three phases for three quarters Sunday. After one fourth-quarter hiccup, coming on a controversial Green Bay Packers punt return for a touchdown, the 49ers regained their swagger in a 30-22 victory at Lambeau Field.The team featured two of the preseason favorites to represent the NFC in the Super Bowl. And the 49ers might have established themselves as the early season team to beat.It was the 49ers' first road victory against the Packers since 1990 -- a span that included six regular-season games and two playoff showdowns.Quarterback Alex Smith distributed the ball to the 49ers' wide variety of offensive weapons. Smith finished 20-for-26 for 211 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. And running back Frank Gore capitalized on a wide array of personnel groups, featuring extra blockers to gain 112 yards on 16 carries.Smith set the 49ers' team record for most regular-season pass attempts without an interception. Smith entered the game with 159 consecutive attempts without an interception from the end of last season. Steve Young previously held the record with 184 consecutive attempts without an interception.Defensively, the 49ers managed to keep Aaron Rodgers and the high-powered Packers offense in check.Linebacker NaVorro Bowman intercepted a Rodgers pass midway through the fourth quarter. On the next play, Gore tore off a 23-yard touchdown run to give the 49ers a 30-15 lead. The 49ers had spare offensive linemen Leonard Davis and Daniel Kilgore on the field as eligible receivers on Gore's touchdown run.And, just as a year ago, kicker David Akers was exceptional with three first-half field goals.Akers, a 14-year veteran, tied an NFL record with a 63-yard field goal on the final play of the first half to give the 49ers a 16-7 lead against the Green Bay Packers.Akers became the fourth player in NFL history to kick a 63-yard field goal, joining Tom Dempsey (1970), Jason Elam (1998) and Sebastian Janikowski (2011).Replacement refs: Coach Jim Harbaugh was livid on the sideline when referee David White picked up a flag for an apparent illegal block in the back that would've nullified Randall Cobb's 75-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. It appeared as if Packers special-teamer Terrell Manning blocked Anthony Dixon in the back in the middle of the field.Return of Williams: Kyle Williams handled all the punt-return chores with Ted Ginn out of action with a right ankle sprain. Williams gave the 49ers a chance to score before the end of the the first half when he returned Tim Masthay's punt 20 yards to the 38. Four plays later, Akers went out for his 63-yard field goal to close the first half.Designated runner: Backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick helped set up the field goal when he entered the game for one play, and he dashed off a 17-yard run to the Green Bay 45-yard line with :11 remaining in the half.Akers also made field goals of 40 and 43 yards in the first half. He set the NFL record last season with 44 field goals made.Moss is boss: Randy Moss' debut with the 49ers was a resounding success. He caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith in the second quarter for his 14th career regular-season touchdown against the Packers. He has caught more touchdown passes against the Packers than any other opponent in the history of the franchise.

Cardinals beat Washington, allow Cowboys to clinch playoff spot

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AP

Cardinals beat Washington, allow Cowboys to clinch playoff spot

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, David Johnson scored twice and the Arizona Cardinals held on to beat Washington 31-23 on Sunday.

The loss by Washington (6-5-1) clinched a playoff spot for the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.

Palmer's 25-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 11:09 to play put Arizona ahead 24-20, the fourth lead change of the second half.

After a Washington field goal, Palmer's 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson with 1:56 padded gave the Cardinals (5-6-1) a 31-23 lead.

Washington drove to the Arizona 28-yard line before Patrick Peterson's interception of Kirk Cousins' pass with 41 seconds left sealed the victory.

Johnson, who also scored on a 1-yard run, became the second player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 12 games of a season. Edgerrin James was the other.

Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards and caught nine passes for another 91.

Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 78 yards, moving past Cris Carter into third on the NFL career receptions list.

Cousins completed 21 of 37 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. His 59-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the first series of the second half set up his 1-yard touchdown sneak.

In the third quarter, Cousins was stripped of the ball by Calais Campbell, and Markus Golden returned the fumble 20 yards to set up Palmer's six-yard touchdown pass toMichael Floyd.

That gave Arizona a 17-13 lead. Washington came right back. Cousins threw to a wide-open Jamison Crowder on a 26-yard touchdown play to put Washington back on top, 20-17, with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals avoided what would have been the team's first three-game losing streak since coach Bruce Arians came to the desert four seasons ago.

INJURIES:
Washington center Spencer Long left the game early to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return.

Washington was without standout tight end Jordan Reed and Arizona didn't have do-everything defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Both have shoulder injuries.

UP NEXT:
Washington: Washington returns to NFC East play with a game at Philadelphia next on Sunday.

Cardinals: Arizona travels across the country to face Miami on Sunday.

49ers display lack of poise in ugly loss to Bears

49ers display lack of poise in ugly loss to Bears

CHICAGO – The 49ers celebrated like they had just scored a touchdown and taken a lead in the second quarter against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.

But they did not score. And the ensuring premature celebration probably ended up preventing the 49ers from their best opportunity to get into the end zone, period.

Dontae Johnson scooped up a punt Shaun Draughn deflected off the foot of Bears punter Pat O’Donnell. Johnson returned it 25 yards and was ruled to have stepped out of bounds at the 4-yard line.

But Johnson, thinking he had scored, did a snow angel at the back of the end zone. Rookie Rashard Robinson also got on his back and did the same thing. Referee Pete Morelli's crew flagged Robinson for unsportsmanlike conduct.

“They understand the rules of the game,” 49ers coach Chip Kelly said of his players. “Dontae is allowed to do whatever. He is just celebrating. But I don’t think he can go to the ground, so it’s just going to be a single-person celebration and you can’t use any props.

“We go over all of this and (it’s) not a disciplined play by us and we will re-emphasize what we have to do in terms of discipline and poise. Play with emotion and not let emotion play us. I like when guys have emotion, but not when it jeopardizes us.”

Kelly added, “I know our coordinators do a really good job of showing things that happen around the league so we learn from other people, and we will really emphasize that again this week.”

On the question of whether Johnson was truly out of bounds, a play in which a ballcarrier is ruled down by contact or out of bounds (not involving fumbles or the line to gain) is not reviewable.

Robinson’s penalty moved the 49ers back to the 19-yard line. Carlos Hyde was stopped for a 1-yard loss; Hyde gained 3 yards; and Colin Kaepernick completed a 4-yard pass to Vance McDonald on a third-and-8 play. Phil Dawson kicked a 31-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.

The snowy conditions were in stark contrast to the mid-80s temperatures in which the 49ers trained during the week in Orlando, Fla. Kelly downplayed the possibility that the team’s stop to prepare at the University of Central Florida had a negative impact on the 49ers’ inability to function in the cold weather.

"It's not like we could have practiced in Saskatchewan,” Kelly said.

“That’s got nothing to do with it,” said 49ers quarterback Blaine Gabbert, who replaced starter Colin Kaepernick in the fourth quarter. “We’re professionals. Rain, sleet, sun, cloudy weather, freezing cold, 90 degrees — that has no effect on how we approach and how we get ready to play a football game.”

The 49ers have lost 11 consecutive games. This might have been the club’s worst showing, yet. Although some players were heard cursing as they entered the locker room after the game, others were seen laughing and taking things lightly in the locker room and in the food line before boarding buses for the airport.

“You have to play for pride, man,” 49ers left tackle Joe Staley said. “You got to play in the NFL. You got to play for pride. Play for your job. This is a situation that none of us want to be in. If you have pride in what you do, that’s going to carry you through the last four games.”