Smith’s near-perfect night helps 49ers open two-game lead in West

Ross D. Franklin/apPrecise: The Niners’ Alex Smith completed 94.7 percent of his passes and finished the game with a 157.1 QB rating in carving up the Cardinals defense.

Three touchdown passes, one incomplete pass.

Not a bad night for Alex Smith, and it could have been better, considering that the one incomplete pass was dropped by a wide-open receiver.

The San Francisco quarterback completed 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns — two to Michael Crabtree and one to Randy Moss — to help San Francisco flatten the Arizona Cardinals 24-3 on Monday night.

“Eighteen-of-19, I have never seen that,” 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. “How important for your quarterback to play very well? It is very important and I don’t know how you play much better. It was a fantastic game by him.”

Arizona defensive tackle Darnell Dockett could hardly believe what Smith had done.

“Everyone’s surprised. My 5-year-old son’s surprised,” Dockett said, “but at the end of the day, it wasn’t like he had to make the long perfect throws. He had some guys open and we missed some tackles and they made plays.”
Smith said he had no idea his stats were that good.

“Which is a good thing,” he said. “I don’t want to think about my stats or incompletions or anything like that. I was kind of in a good rhythm, the whole offense was.”

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.

Smith, who tied a career high with the three touchdown passes, spread out his completions to nine receivers.

Crabtree led the way with five catches for 72 yards.

“This was a big test for us, and everyone saw how it went,” Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It was disappointing to say the least.”

Arizona’s defense, supposed to be the team’s strength, missed tackle after tackle in an embarrassing nationally televised performance at home. The 24 points were the most allowed by the Cardinals this season.

Quarterback John Skelton called the loss “embarrassing” and “humiliating.”

The Cardinals averted a shutout with Jay Feely’s 28-yard field goal.

Skelton, making his second start since Kevin Kolb went down with rib injuries, completed 32 of 52 passes for 290 yards, often overthrowing receivers. The Cardinals rushed for just 7 yards in nine attempts against the 49ers, who entered the game as the No. 1-ranked defense in the NFL, No. 2 against the run.

The victory gives the 49ers a two-game lead in the NFC West over both the Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.

49ersJim HarbaughNFLSan FranciscoSan Francisco 49ers

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