Alex Smith, 49ers Dominate the Cardinals in Division Win: Complete Breakdown and Analysis


Oct 29, 2012; Glendale, AZ, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive back Chris Culliver (29) deflects a pass intended for Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Michael Floyd (15) during the second half at University of Phoenix Stadium. The 49ers beat the Cardinals 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-US PRESSWIRE

At no time during last night’s divisional faceoff between the San Francisco 49ers, and the Arizona Cardinals, did the 49ers trail. San Francisco took control of this game on the first drive, and never looked back. Although the drive came to a premature end on penalties, the 49ers moved the ball well and established the ground game early on, with Frank Gore rushing for 22 yards and a first down.

It looked as if Arizona was going to get started early as well, their first play from scrimmage was a 24 yard completion to LaRod Stephens-Howling, but San Francisco’s top rated defense proved too much for the Cardinals anemic offense.

San Francisco struck first on a 3 yard touchdown pass from Alex Smith to Michael Crabtree, capping off a dominating 10 play drive that marched 87 yards downfield. That marks the second time this season that Smith and Crabtree have hooked up in the end zone, as Crabtree continues to prove his worth at the number 1 receiver position.

David Akers made it 10-0 with a 43 yard field goal in the second quarter. Alex Smith capped off the following 67 yard drive with yet another touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, this one a 9 yard completion to put the 49ers up 17-0.

The 49ers defense dominated Arizona in the first half, allowing only 69 yards of total offense, and no points. Excellent pass defense by the 49ers’ secondary, breaking up passes and not allowing receivers to be open, led to John Skelton putting up an abysmal hail-Mary pass that was intercepted by Chris Culliver to end the half.

The Arizona Cardinals were booed off of the field by the hometown crowd.

The 49ers came out ready to finish the domination of their division rivals in the second half, forcing the Cardinals to punt on their first possession of the half. Alex Smith took his offense 80 yards on six plays on the ensuing drive. The 49ers drive was finished off by an amazing 47 yard touchdown reception by none other than Randy Moss. Moss showed flashes of his old self, catching the ball and then evading two defenders before taking the ball 47 yards to the house to put the 49ers up 24-0.

Arizona’s woefully bad offense was only able to stave off a shut-out behind the leg of their kicker, Jay Feely, who just barely put the ball through the uprights from 43 yards out to put the Cards on the board for the only time, making it 24-3.

San Francisco proved why its defense is the top rated in the league, racking up 4 sacks for a total of 32 yards lost, and allowing only 7 rushing yards, tying a team best. In 4 of the 49ers last 5 games, the defense has not allowed a touchdown to be scored. The 49ers also caused the only forced turn-over of the game, The Culliver interception of Skelton that ended the first half.

Alex Smith set an NFL passing record, going 18 of 19 through the air and posting a completion percentage of 94.7. Smith’s 94.7 percent completion rating, and 18 of 19 completions, are an NFL record in a game with a minimum of 15 passing attempts.

Last night’s complete domination improves the 49ers record to 6-2, and 2-0 in their division. The 49ers have a bye next week, and will face divisional opponents the St. Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on November 11.