SANTA CLARA (AP) — Quinton Dial believed he was making a legal play when he came straight at Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer and clobbered him.
Instead, another yellow flag flew for a roughing the passer penalty — a costly 15-yard infraction that extended Arizona’s winning drive.
Palmer ran for a go-ahead 8-yard touchdown with 2:28 left and tumbled after spiking the ball in a telling story of his day, and the NFC West-leading Cardinals squeaked by the San Francisco 49ers19-13 on Sunday for their fifth straight win and first road victory in the series since September 2008.
Dial wants to watch the tape again get a better idea of the play in question.
“When I watched the replay, I saw he kind of ducked into it,” Dial said. “There was nothing I could do at that point, just go into him.”
Palmer saw it clearly from his perspective: “There’s no debate here. He hit me right in the face with the crown of his helmet.”
On a day when its defense largely stood its ground, San Francisco committed 13 penalties for 81 yards to help the Cardinals’ cause.
And the Niners were still in it until the end.
After Palmer’s touchdown, Chandler Catanzaro missed the extra-point try to give Blaine Gabbert and the 49ers (3-8) one more chance with 2:21 left. Anquan Boldin caught an 18-yard pass on fourth-and-20 to clinch the win for Arizona.
Gabbert was 25 of 36 for 318 yards and an 8-yard touchdown pass to Vance McDonald in the third and might be making his case to be the starting quarterback going into 2016. Gabbert hit Torrey Smith for a 41-yard completion and had far more success than predecessor Colin Kaepernick did in a four-interception day back in a 47-7 loss at Arizona in Week 3.
“Blaine’s playing awesome. Some of the plays he makes, I think he’s able to showcase some of his skills and prove that he belongs in this league,” Smith said. “I’m just glad that he’s able to go out and prove it.”
Boldin finished with eight catches for 93 yards against his old team as the 49ers were eliminated from the division race in yet another mistake-filled performance.
San Francisco had two penalties on one play with 7:13 to go, including a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct by Smith with the defense on the field when he made contact with the side referee.
It certainly wasn’t the best day for the NFL’s top-ranked offense as San Francisco outgained Arizona 368-337. Coach Bruce Arians’ bunch will take it nonetheless.
“The officials were struggling mightily,” Arians said.
With Arizona down two running backs, David Johnson ran for a 1-yard touchdown in the third for the Cardinals (9-2), who have nine wins in their first 11 games in consecutive seasons for the first time in franchise history and fifth time overall.
Larry Fitzgerald had 10 catches for 66 yards, surpassing Hall of Famer Steve Largent for 16th place on the career list for yards receiving and moving him into 12th place for receptions past Randy Moss.
A diving Fitzgerald dropped the ball in the end zone with 4:04 left in the first quarter, and Arizona settled for Catanzaro’s 26-yard field goal. He added a 41-yarder early in the second.
Palmer was 24 of 40 for 271 yards and improved to 22-4 over his last 26 starts.
He completed a 48-yard pass to John Brown on the second snap of the third quarter, and then took advantage of five penalties — four pass interference calls and an illegal hands to the face — as Arizona finally scored a touchdown.
“I’ve never seen four penalties like that in one possession,” Fitzgerald said.
Phil Dawson kicked a 53-yard field goal as the first half expired and a tying 33-yarder in the third for his 18th straight made kick.
Arizona earned its first win on San Francisco’s home field since a 23-13 Week 1 victory on Sept. 7, 2008, at Candlestick Park, snapping a six-game skid. Only three current Cardinals had won previously at San Francisco: Calais Campbell, Fitzgerald and Lyle Sendlein.
NOTES: McDonald made six catches for 71 yards after fellow tight end Garrett Celek was carted off with 3:46 left in the first quarter with a left ankle injury and didn’t return. ... Arizona CB Jerraud Powers injured his calf in the third, while RB Andre Ellington hurt a foot and RB Chris Johnson a knee.