MEXICO CITY (AP) — Jimmy Garoppolo threw four touchdown passes, including two each to Brandon Ayuk and George Keitel, as the San Francisco 49ers won their third straight game by beating the Arizona Cardinals 38-10 Monday night in Mexico City.
This was the fifth regular-season NFL game played in Mexico City and the first since 2019. Technically speaking, it was a Cardinals home game, as the boisterous, festive crowd of 78,427 at Estadio Azteca heavily supported the 49ers, and they were exceptionally rowdy. Especially when Kittle and Deebo Samuel each scored on a 39-yard touchdown run.
San Francisco (6-4) has won five of its last seven and is tied with the Seahawks for the top of the NFC West. Garoppolo had another effective performance, completing 20 of 29 passes for 228 yards.
It was a tough game through most of the first half, but the 49ers pulled away in the second half, jumping ahead 24-10 early in the third quarter on a great game at the end of the half. Samuel took the field and ran 39 yards, weaving through the Cardinals defense on his way to the end zone.
It capped off a solid eight-game San Francisco drive that included seven plays. Aiyuk’s second touchdown catch of the night—this one from 14 yards—put the 49ers ahead 31–10 later in the third.
The Cardinals (4-7) played their second straight game without Pro Bowl quarterback Kyler Murray, who was suffering from a sore hamstring. Backup Colt McCoy has posted a 3-1 starting record over the past two seasons — including a win against the Rams last week — but he couldn’t recreate the same magic in Mexico.
McCoy finished with 24 of 34 passes for 218 yards and an interception. The 49ers hit him hard several times, connecting with three sacks
The 49ers took it 17-10 going into halftime after Robbie Gould hooked up with a 39-yard field goal with 43 seconds left of the second quarter. It capped a back-and-forth first half that saw the teams gain nearly identical amounts of yardage: the 49ers had a 186-185 advantage.
The Cardinals took a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Matt Prater’s 40-yard field goal as both teams dealt with a steady rain that began on kickoff and continued through most of the first half.
The 49ers responded early in the second when Garoppolo hit Aiyuk over the middle for a 7-yard touchdown, capping a nine-play, 82-yard drive. San Francisco intercepted McCoy on the next drive after a pass from James Conner’s hand was bounced off and Jimmy Ward snatched it off the air.
San Francisco capitalized three plays later when Garoppolo evaded the pressure and caught a pass to Keitel, who kicked two Arizona defenders and then sprinted into the end zone for a 39-yard touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
The cavernous Estadio Azteca – home to two of Mexico’s best soccer teams – sits at an elevation of about 7,200 feet, much higher than both San Francisco and Phoenix. The 49ers chose to practice at altitude this week in Colorado, while the Cardinals decided to stay at their home training facility in Tempe, Arizona.
Arizona’s defense looked gassed in the second half, missing several tackles as the game slowly spiraled out of control.
Back to Mexico
The two teams met in Mexico City just over 17 years after they played in the first regular-season NFL game played in a country outside of the United States. The Cardinals beat the 49ers 31-14 on October 3, 2005, in front of 103,467 fans. . The stadium’s capacity has since been reduced for NFL games.
There were three more regular season games in Mexico before Monday – all at Estadio Azteca. The Raiders beat Texas 27-20 in 2016, the Patriots beat the Raiders 33-8 in 2017 and the Chiefs beat the Chargers 24-17 in 2019.
49ers: DE Arik Armstead (foot/ankle) is listed as inactive.
Cardinals: In addition to Murray, the Cardinals have had three other starters listed as inactive, including CB Byron Murphy Jr. (rear), OT DJ Humphries (rear) and TE Zack Ertz (knee). Ertz out of season. … WR Rondale Moore (groin) left in the first quarter and didn’t return.
49ers: Hosting the Saints on Sunday.
Cardinals: They traveled to face the Chargers on Sunday.
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