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Cardinals control clock and 49ers

Arizona has the ball for much of the second half and forces six turnovers in 23-13 win.

September 08, 2008|Sam Farmer | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Arizona Cardinals are in first place in the NFC West.

Now, they just have to hold on for 15 more games.

Keeping the ball out of their opponents' hands is a good start, and the Cardinals did that Sunday, putting San Francisco's offense on ice for most of the second half in a 23-13 victory at Candlestick Park.

The 49ers had the ball just seven minutes 22 seconds after halftime, about three times less than the Cardinals' 22:38. It's no wonder Arizona broke a 10-10 tie by outscoring its host, 13-3, after halftime.

"It was huge that we were able to control the clock like that," Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner said. "It made a difference in the outcome."

Of course, committing six turnovers -- compared to none by Arizona -- did little to help San Francisco's cause.

"We did move the ball well at times," said 49ers Coach Mike Nolan, whose team swept the Cardinals last season. "But obviously, we stopped ourselves several times with turnovers."

Journeyman quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan accounted for three of those turnovers, with two fumbles and an interception. He won the starting job from Alex Smith, the former No. 1 overall pick, who might have played his last game for the franchise.

Smith aggravated a shoulder injury Friday and said he could learn today whether that will require season-ending surgery. His 49ers career will probably be over if he undergoes a shoulder operation for the second year in a row.

Warner, who beat out Matt Leinart for the starting job, completed 19 of 30 passes for 197 yards with a touchdown. His favorite target was Anquan Boldin, who made each of his game-high eight receptions in the second half.

Arizona's Edgerrin James led all rushers with 100 yards in 26 carries, but San Francisco's Frank Gore was right behind him with 96 yards in 14 carries, including a 41-yard touchdown in the first quarter.

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sam.farmer@latimes.com

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