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October 28 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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With a 17-0 first quarter lead the 49ers thought they had this game well in hand long before it was time to throw in the towel. The Cardinals kept fighting though, and due to the 49ers pores defense, were able to get back in this game. The 49ers had the killer instinct though, unlike last week, and ultimately thatís what won this game for them.

At the end of the second quarter, the 49ers got the ball back with about a minute to go. Rather than sitting on a large lead, Mariucci decided to move the ball down field. The team did so with ease to score another touchdown. At the end of the game too, on 4th and 8 the 49ers went for it, picked up the first down at the Cardinals four yard line, where they tactfully took a knee twice to tend the game.

It was a well fought battle, with very few miscues on the 49ers side of the ball. The team was focused and came up with big plays on both sides of the ball. Ronnie Heard had his first three interceptions of his career, and Andre Carter forced two fumbles, one of which was recovered by Dana Stubblefield, the other by Cardinal quarterback Jake Plummer, who magically completed a two yard pass on the play. Offensively, Terrell Owens had two touchdowns one on a 61-yard strike. Tai Streets also stretched the defense and scored on some nice running after the catch.

The 49ers defense is still a long ways away from where it needs to be to stop the better teams in the NFL. Third downs remain a problem, as the Cardinals completed a whopping 75% of their third downs into first downs. The defense needs to be able to force turnovers on situations other than coming up with an interception or a field goal. They need to force some three and outs, or they will run into trouble down the road.

Overall it was a well played game, particularly on offense. It will be very hard to for JJ Stokes to retain his starting spot in the lineup when he is ready to return as Tai Streets seems to come up big weekly. Ronnie Heard had the game of his life, and Bryant Young recorded his first sack of the season. The coaching staff had this team well prepared, despite a lousy third quarter. Next week will provide yet another tough challenge.

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