GLENDALE, Ariz. — 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.”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.”
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 in the third quarter, 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 10 different receivers. Crabtree led the team with five catches for 72 yards.
Arizona’s defense, supposedly 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.
“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.”
Quarterback John Skelton called the loss “embarrassing” and “humiliating.”
Led by Smith’s near-perfect precision passing, the 49ers methodically dominated from the start. He had the best completion percentage of his career, and he would have been perfect had Delanie Walker not dropped the ball when he was wide open on a crossing route.
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 sidelines pass to Crabtree, who outfought Patrick Peterson for the ball and the touchdown.
Near the end of the second quarter on the Cardinals’ 9, Smith threw over the middle to Crabtree, who caught the ball, then fooled Peterson with an inside move into the end zone to make it 17-0 with 1:41 to go in the half.
John Skelton, making his second start for the injured Kevin Kolb, completed 32 of 52 passes for 290 yards.