Well, my concern about a tough divisional battle ended up being for naught. The San Francisco 49ers went into Glendale, Arizona and thoroughly dominated the Cardinals en route to a 24-3 win. The late highlight had to be the 49ers defense stiffening up near the goal line to prevent a garbage-time touchdown.
The game was not nearly as the close might otherwise indicate. The 49ers struggled with penalties on two of their first three drives, leaving some points on the board, but otherwise put together a strong effort. On the offensive side of the ball, Alex Smith set career highs in completion percentage (94.7%) and passer rating (157.1), accruing 232 yards and three touchdowns.
Smith benefited from some great YAC work by Michael Crabtree and Randy Moss. Crabtree had a great end zone catch for a touchdown, and then scored a second touchdown after weaving his way through the defense. Randy Moss put together his own big game on a 47-yard catch and run touchdown. He dodged some tacklers and then turned on the jets.
On defense, the 49ers took some time to get sacks, but the pressure was there all night on John Skelton. The 49ers finally did break through for some sacks, with four on the night, including two for Aldon Smith. It should also shock nobody that the Cardinals rushing game was non-existent. LaRod Stephens-Howling finished with eight rushes for six yards.
The 49ers head into their bye week at the halfway point of their season, sitting at 6-2 and holding a two-game lead in the NFC West. The road division win is a big one as they are the first NFC West team to win a division game on the road. There is a lot of football left, but the 49ers have started to take some control in the NFC West.
Head over to 49ers.com/live for the post game press conferences.