San Francisco 49ers Cruise to 24-3 Win Over Struggling Arizona Cardinals
Jon Gruden summed it up perfectly during the telecast (courtesy of SportsCenter's Twitter):
"Arizona's done nothing well.They've not even threatened tonight." - Jon Gruden #MNF— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 30, 2012
Just so he's not forgotten like usual, Alex Smith went 18-of-19 for 232 yards and three touchdowns. I haven't told you how he got there yet, but the unsung hero, who has won a ton of games in the last two years for the 49ers, deserved some immediate recognition after his efficient performance.
According to ESPN's telecast, Smith broke the NFL record for most passes in a game with only one incompletion, passing Fran Tarkenton.
The 49ers were clicking on all cylinders from the very beginning. Each team traded scoreless drives for the game's first 13:07, before Michael Crabtree snagged his first touchdown catch of the night:
Arizona may have been able to bounce back, but Larry Fitzgerald fell awkwardly with less than a minute remaining in the quarter. He was taken to the sideline and underwent some concussion tests. If you look here, and ignore the tripping Niners (if you can), you can see Fitzgerald struggling to get up:
That was followed by another excruciating stretch of poor Arizona offense/aggressive 49ers defense. David Akers handed San Francisco a 10-0 lead with a 43-yard field goal at the 5:58 mark in the second quarter, followed shortly after by Crabtree's second scoring snag of the evening.
Crabtree's second score prompted Sports Illustrated writer Jim Trotter to make a very good point:
the knock against crabtree is supposed to be his inability to separate. did the cardinals not get the memo?— Jim Trotter (@SI_JimTrotter) October 30, 2012
Crabtree wasn't just abusing anyone, either. He was abusing Patrick Peterson, and that's not an easy task.
With a 17-0 halftime lead, the game was well in hand by halftime. Arizona's offense doesn't allow it to make major comebacks, and the 49ers seemed very comfortable against the Cardinal defenders.
In the third quarter, things got worse for Arizona. Randy Moss hauled in this 47-yard score from Smith:
According to ESPN Stats & Info, that moved him up the all-time leaderboard:
Let's go back to Fitzgerald again real quick, but not for anything good. He wasn't contributing, and his offense was sputtering in a blowout game. Yet the Cardinals kept him out there, and he didn't look 100 percent at times. Check out NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah's observation:
Anyone else wondering why Fitzgerald is still in this game? I've never seen smelling salts in the huddle before…— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) October 30, 2012
Fitzgerald tried to get in the end zone with 50 seconds left in the game, but came up inches short. Other than that, with four catches for 47 yards, he made minimal impact on the game.
But back to the game, not that there was much to see at this point. Jay Feely finally got the Cardinals on the board with less than one minute left in the third quarter, putting the score at 24-3 in favor of San Francisco.
Oh yeah, and Dashon Goldson did this to Early Doucet early in the fourth quarter:
Aside from that, this game get very boring once the 49ers put it on ice. The Cardinals were able to sack Smith four times, but he dominated the game as much as he ever has. He received 55 yards of support from Frank Gore and 43 from Kendall Hunter, but this was his show. Completing passes to nine different receivers showed how on top of his game he really was.
The Cardinals only turned the ball over once, but the offensive line couldn't protect John Skelton whatsoever (and Skelton struggles enough when he's able to stay upright). Constant pressure put him at 31-of-51 for 284 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception on the night.
It also didn't help that he only received seven yards of run support.
Arizona's road doesn't get any easier, as the team travels to Lambeau Field to play the Packers next week. The 49ers will ride this momentum into a bye week.
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