It was a near perfect night for the San Francisco 49ers, who delivered a statement in front of a national offense on Monday Night Football with a 24-3 win over the Arizona Cardinals on the road.
Alex Smith was one pass completion away from setting an NFL record (he finished 18 for 19 with 232 yards and 3 touchdowns), the defense was outstanding throughout the game, and Randy Moss gave everyone a flashback of his younger days with an athletic, 47-yard touchdown that only he could pull off.
The Niners struck early and often, and the scoring began when Smith led the Niners on a 1o play, 77-yard drive, capped off by a touchdown pass from Smith to Michael Crabtree on 3rd and goal. Smith lobbed it up for grabs, and Crabtree was able to haul it in for the touchdown.
Crabtree was undoubtedly Alex Smith’s favorite target tonight, as Matt Maiocco describes two other significant plays:
Crabtree set up the 49ers’ second score — David Akers’ 43-yard field goal — with an impressive catch-and-run for a 22-yard gain on a third-and-23 play in the middle of the second quarter.
Then, Smith and Crabtree teamed up to virtually put the game out of reach near the end of the first half against the punchless Cardinals. On a third-and-goal from the 9, Crabtree caught a short pass from Smith. Crabtree made an inside move, causing Peterson to lose his footing and fall. Crabtree scampered into the end zone.
The Niners led 17-0 at the half, and Smith had set his career high in completion percentage, going 14 for 15 on pass attempts.
The second half was more of the same, with a little bit of “Moss” mixed in. Midway through the third quarter, on 3rd and 8 from the 47-yard line, Smith fired a completion to Moss, who showed off just how dangerous he can be. Moss schooled rookie cornerback Jamel Fleming with a neat inside move, then slipped by Paris Lenon. At that point, there was nothing but green grass ahead of him, and Moss showed that he still has that explosive speed, sprinting into the end zone for the score.
As Jon Gruden in the ESPN booth put it, “Randy Moss ran through the Arizona Cardinals like they weren’t even there.”
That put the Niners up 24-0, and the game out of reach. The Cardinals avoided the shutout when Jay Feely kicked a 28-yard field goal late in the third quarter.
With their win, the 49ers are now 6-2 and lead the NFC West by two full games. They will now enjoy their bye week before heading home to play the St. Louis Rams on November 11.