Alex Smith of the 49ers had a shaky last couple of weeks in the league throwing 4 interceptions in two games. Smith and the offense seemed to have no problem in Arizona on Monday Night
The San Francisco 49ers and their QB trampled the Arizona Cardinals 24-3 in the last game of week 8. Alex Smith went 18/19 for 232 yards and Three TD passes in the victory to help his team improve to 6-2 on the season. The 49ers now enter their bye week with a two game lead in the NFC West over the Cardinals (4-4) and the Seahawks (4-4).
“At this point I don’t care,” Alex Smith said about his performance Monday night. “if you ask me a few years ago, yeah maybe, but at this point I don’t really care. I am concerned about winning. The guys in the locker room know what I am about and that is what really matters.”
Smith threw his first TD pass in the 1st quarter to Michael Crabtree on a 3 yard pass where Crabtree fought off Arizona CB Patrick Peterson to get the TD catch. Michael Crabtree would catch a second TD from Smith in the 2nd quarter on a 9 yard slant route where he was virtually untouched running into the end zone.
The third TD pass from Alex went to Randy Moss in the 3rd quarter for a 47 yard score on his only catch of the day. It was sideline pass for a 1st down that Moss turned into a long TD thanks to some juke moves and a few blocks from the 49ers offensive players. That TD catch tied him with former 49er Terrell Owens on the NFL career touchdown list with 156. At that point, the game was 24-0 and seemingly lost for Cardinals.
Alex Smith threw to 9 different receivers in the game with the most production coming from Michael Crabtree who caught 5 receptions for 72 yards and those 2 TDs mentioned earlier. The sole incomplete pass from Alex Smith was due to a drop pass from Delanie Walker.
The Cardinals were forced to go to their passing game from then on out due to the huge lead by the 49ers and the fact that they couldn’t run the ball against that San Francisco defense. LaRod Stephens-Howling, who had 104 yards rushing last week, ran for a total of 6 yards in 8 carries. The Cardinals as a team rushed for only 7 yards in the game.
Arizona QB John Skelton was forced to go to the air for the majority of this game and didn’t get much accomplished there. Skelton went 32/52 for 290 yards and 1 INT that was off a Hail Mary throw to the end the first half. Skelton didn’t much protection as he was sacked 4 times in the game with 2 of those sacks coming from 49ers LB Aldon Smith who now has 7.5 sacks on the season.
Skelton had to spread the ball around but it didn’t help as the 49ers still stifled them. Larry Fitzgerald was targeted 11 times but only caught the ball 5 times for 52 yards. The 49ers defenders were very rough with him driving his head into the ground a couple of times giving him some head troubles.
While they did get one more 1st down that the 49ers (16 to 15), the Cardinals only had 4 1st downs in the first half with the 49ers shutting them down.
Arizona’s only points of the game came off a 28 yard Jay Feely field goal in the 3rd quarter.
“This was a big test for us, and everyone saw how it went,” Arizona head coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It was disappointing to say the least.”
Arizona has now lost 4 in row with this loss at home.
San Francisco’s 24 points were the most points allowed by the Cardinals in any game this season. Their defense got worn down by the 49ers and their offense didn’t give them much help having to become one dimensional and predictable for the 49ers defense.
Meanwhile, the 49ers stuck with the game plan. While Alex Smith and the passing attack were the highlights in this game, running the ball was still a priority. The San Francisco offense ran the ball 29 times for 113 yards. Frank Gore ran it 16 times for 55 yards and Kendall Hunter had 10 carries for 43 yards. Not the 49ers best rushing effort but enough to make the Cardinals respect the run and throw them off balance for the Smith and the receivers to strike at opportune times.
“Feel very good about the win,” 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh said afterwards. “Very proud of our team. I thought they played exceptionally well… really good by all phases.”
With week 8 over, the 49ers can go home and take in their bye week reflecting on the good and the bad of the 1st half of the season while also preparing for the St. Louis Rams on November 11th.
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Written by Daniel Trucios