Cardinals wide receiver John Brown draws a pass interference penalty in overtime.
John Brown's numbers on Sunday afternoon were like his personality: quiet and understated.
But the Cardinals' wide receiver had an impact that went deeper than that in the 18-15 overtime victory over the 49ers.
The return of Brown, who missed the past two games with a quadriceps injury, re-installed a missing element to the Cardinals' passing game. He hauled in three catches for 47 yards and also drew a pair of crucial pass interference penalties, including one in overtime which set up Larry Fitzgerald's heroics.
"There's a fear when he's out there, for defenders," quarterback Carson Palmer said.
It looked like Brown secured the game-winning catch himself when he grabbed a deflected pass and tapped his toe in the end zone in overtime. But the throw was ruled incomplete, and the replay official deemed there was not enough evidence to overturn the call.
"When it came to me, I just followed it with my eyes and did the toe drag," Brown said. "They robbed me out of a touchdown, but it's fine. We won. That's all that matters."
Brown sat out plays regularly, as he remains on a snap count while managing his injury, but still made his mark. The Cardinals had a second-and-20 from the San Francisco 35 with 1:05 left in overtime when 49ers safety Jimmie Ward had to clutch him as he made his move up the field. Fitzgerald scored two plays later.
Brown's defenders were flagged three times for a total of 46 yards.
"If you look at the numbers, I don't think they really do his impact on the game justice," Fitzgerald said.
J.J. Nelson, another big play guy, is dealing with a hamstring injury of his own, and the pair spent most of the game alternating as the third receiver behind Fitzgerald and Jaron Brown.
"We need both of those guys healthy, and then we can be dangerous," coach Bruce Arians said.
GOLDEN INJURES KNEE, COULD BE SERIOUS
Linebacker Markus Golden injured his knee in overtimer and didn't return. Arians didn't know the severity of it postgame, but if Golden misses time it could be a big loss.
He doesn't have a sack in 2017 but was fourth in the NFL a season ago with 12½. Multiple reports said Golden could have ligament damage.
Golden pounded his fist on the grass and writhed in pain when he got hurt, but did walk off the field under his own power. Kareem Martin replaced him and momentarily had a fumble recovery in overtime, but 49ers running back Carlos Hyde's knee was ruled down on review.
"It's really difficult to see Markus go down like that, obviously, but I think Kareem's been waiting for his opportunity," Palmer said. "He's going to have his now."
BUCANNON BACK IN MIX
Money linebacker Deone Bucannon played for the first time since Week 13 of last season because of an ankle injury. He started on defense and rotated with rookie Haason Reddick depending on the package.
Bucannon finished with only one tackle but seemed to acquit himself fine, showing his trademark speed and blitzing ability.
"I felt good," Bucannon said. "There were just a couple little things. I've just got to get back trusting it. That's my first time playing football in eight, nine months. I'm just happy we got the win. I'm happy to come back, all the camaraderie and things like that. I'm going to be fine."
HOLDEN UP AT LEFT GUARD
Rookie Will Holden started his first game on the line in place of the injured Mike Iupati, who was placed on injured reserve with a triceps injury. Backup Alex Boone also missed the game, which shoved the fifth-round pick into action.
Holden had previously gotten some work as a jumbo tight end but was needed full-time in this one.
"I was actually not really jittery at the beginning," Holden said. "You give up a bad play, you feel it a little bit, but you've just got to put it down and think, 'Next play. Next play.'"
Images of the Week matchup between the Cardinals and the 49ers