NFL: Alex Smith helps San Francisco 49ers batter Arizona Cardinals
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 30/10/12 9:52am
Alex Smith: Superb performance against Arizona
The San Francisco 49ers flexed their muscles again in the NFC West as a near-flawless performance from quarterback Alex Smith fired them to an emphatic 24-3 victory over divisional foes Arizona.
The Cardinals had an impressive start to the season this year, but have now lost four in a row to drop to an even 4-4 after suffering a hefty reversal in front of their own fans at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
Niners triggerman Smith had suffered a couple of shaky games this year, but he responded in fine fashion by setting an NFL record by completing 18 of his 19 pass attempts for 232 yards and three touchdowns.
Even the lone incompletion was a drop by a wide open Delanie Walker which could have seen Smith walk away with a perfect completion rate.
Smith will never be a gun-slinging quarterback, but behind San Francisco's power running game and big-time defence his accuracy is the key - while on Monday night his receivers did their part as they added 107 yards after the catch during the game.
Michael Crabtree caught two touchdowns either side of a David Akers field goal as the visitors piled up a 17-0 lead at half time, before Randy Moss had just one catch but took it 41 yards after grabbing the ball to find the end zone in the third quarter.
Arizona got on the scoreboard with a Jay Feely field goal but could not get anything going on offence, especially in the running game where they could only muster a lowly seven yards rushing.
Quarterback John Skelton was forced to throw 52 times due to the lack of a run game but only connected on 32 passes for 290 yards and was intercepted once whilst also failing to get into the end zone.
The win takes John Harbaugh's San Francisco onto 6-2 for the season and a two-game lead in the NFC West over Seattle and Arizona.
"Eighteen of 19, I have never seen that," Harbaugh said of Smith. "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."