GLENDALE, Ariz. — On an almost perfect Monday night for Alex Smith, the San Francisco 49ers flexed their NFC West dominance with a 24-3 flattening of the Arizona Cardinals.
Smith completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns — two to Michael Crabtree and one to Randy Moss — to help San Francisco (6-2) open a two-game lead in the division and send Arizona (4-4) to its fourth consecutive loss.
In the first half, Smith was 14 of 15 for 146 yards and two touchdowns, both to Crabtree, as the 49ers built a 17-0 halftime lead.
Moss caught a 47-yard TD pass, dodging tacklers down the sideline on a play that seemed to turn back the clock to the receiver’s prime. With the catch, he tied Terrell Owens for fourth on the NFL career touchdown list with 156.
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Smith, who with the three touchdown passes tied a career high, spread out his completions to 10 different receivers. Crabtree led the way with five catches for 72 yards.
Arizona’s defense, supposedly the team’s strength this season, missed tackle after tackle in an embarrassing nationally televised performance at home. The 24 points were the most allowed by the Cardinals this season.
Led by Smith’s near-perfect precision passing, the 49ers methodically dominated from the start. The San Francisco quarterback had the best completion percentage of his career, and would have been perfect had Delanie Walker not dropped the ball when he was wide open on a crossing route in the first half.
A 10-play, 77-yard drive that consumed just over 6 minutes of the first quarter put San Francisco up 7-0. On third-and-goal from the 3, Smith threw a sideline pass to Crabtree, who outfought Patrick Peterson for the ball and the touchdown.
A flurry of bad tackling, most notably an open-field miss by Sam Acho, helped Ted Ginn Jr. return a punt 35 yards to the Arizona 45 in the second quarter. Daryl Washington sacked Smith to help set up a third-and-23 from the Cardinals’ 46. But Smith found Crabtree over the middle for 22 yards, just a yard shy of the first down. David Akers’ 43 yard field goal made it 10-0 with 5:58 remaining in the half.
Crabtree beat Peterson again for San Francisco’s second touchdown. Smith threw over the middle to the receiver, who caught the ball, then fooled Peterson with an inside move into the end zone to make it 17-0 with 1:41 remaining in the half.
The Cardinals were booed off the field by the home crowd at halftime.
John Skelton, starting for the injured Kevin Kolb, completed 32 of 52 passes for 290 yards, often overthrowing receivers. The Cardinals rushed for just 7 yards in nine attempts against San Francisco.