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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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49ers capitalize as Cards crumble

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO – The Arizona Cardinals threw away a chance to clinch a second straight NFC West crown.

Alex Smith threw touchdown passes after two of Arizona’s seven turnovers, Frank Gore ran for 167 yards and another score and the San Francisco 49ers kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a dominant 24-9 victory Monday night.

With a relentless defensive attack, San Francisco forced the sloppy Cardinals into five first-half turnovers and kept Kurt Warner from finding a groove. Warner threw two interceptions in the opening half after going 130 passes without a pick.

Arizona (8-5) can still clinch the division by winning two of its final three games.

“Getting a win against a team playing great ball that had a chance to clinch the division, we came out and dominated,” Gore said. Gore had his most productive game since Week 2, running over a Cardinals defense that held Adrian Peterson to just 19 yards in a win against Minnesota last week. Gore was certainly motivated for a big night after getting only 30 yards on 22 carries in a season-opening victory at Arizona on Sept. 13.

Smith connected on TD passes to Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree and finished 19 of 35 for 144 yards. The 49ers (6-7) answered coach Mike Singletary’s challenge to make a statement on the national stage against the reigning NFC champions.

Warner followed the best four-game stretch of his career with a dud – going 16 of 29 for 178 yards with two interceptions and being sacked four times. Crabtree wound up with five catches for 67 yards.

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