It was a flawed game in the desert in many ways, but it was an entertaining game all the while. Here's a fantasy recap:
Niners Wrap: It was an up-and-down start for Shaun Hill, who spent most of the night ducking and chucking. The Arizona rush never got to him for a sack, but Hill completed just 19-of-40 throws, and he threw a pair of ghastly interceptions in the second half (offsetting the two touchdown passes he threw in the second quarter). Hill is probably an upgrade over J.T. O'Sullivan for the pocket awareness alone, but let's not have a parade over a 60.1 quarterback rating.
Jason Hill turned into the receiver of choice as the night went along, snagging seven catches for 84 yards. The Hill-to-Hill combo isn't that surprising when you consider their extra reps in practice earlier in the year (non-starters generally work together), but Hill probably earned a Week 11 start with his play here. Josh Morgan almost dropped his 31-yard touchdown catch in the first half, and a bad drop in the fourth period earned him a permanent spot on the bench.
Frank Gore earned his money between the tackles (23 carries, 99 yards), but he had some trouble in the passing game (just one catch, a couple of drops). Gore came agonizingly close to winning the game in the final minute, losing his balance just shy of the Arizona goal line. Michael Robinson (three carries, eight yards) became the surprise footnote to the game when Mike Martz called his number on the final snap; the Arizona defense had no trouble snuffing out the quick hitter. You have to wonder why the Niners called two runs at the end of the game; they could have had three chances to score if the first two calls were pass plays.
Cardinals Wrap: It was business as usual for the passing game, as Kurt Warner once again posted pinball numbers (32-for-42, 328 yards, three touchdowns). He's now thrown for multiple scores in eight straight games, and for my money he's the leader in the MVP debate. The accurate throws and quick decisions came as expected, but Warner also kept some plays alive with his feet, and he ended the night without a turnover or sack.
Steve Breaston (seven catches, 121 yards) got the best of it early, taking advantage of the attention on the other side of the field. Anquan Boldin (7-92 receiving, 3-19 rushing) caught two more scores, getting him to 10 on the year; as usual, he was dynamite after the catch. Larry Fitzgerald was contained early but came alive late, finishing with eight short catches (nothing over nine yards) and a touchdown.
Tim Hightower was stuffed on the ground (13 carries, 22 yards), but that shouldn't come as a total shock; the Niners allow just 3.5 yards per carry, sixth-best in the league. Hightower's work as a safety valve (six catches, 28 yards) bailed out his PPR owners a little bit. Edgerrin James (two carries, four yards) and J.J. Arrington (one carry, one yard) barely saw the field.
Miscellaneous: Allen Rossum took the opening kick back for the Niners, if that interests you. … Neil Rackers connected on three field goals and hit double digits for the third time in five starts. … Tony Kornheiser had his typical showing; annoying with the pre-scripted narratives, and confused with the flow of the game. His partners in the booth flagged him a couple of times for silly statements. Look, I like Kornheiser on PTI, I really do, but he couldn't be more miscast for this Monday night gig. Do you know anyone who thinks this is working?