Photo: AZCentral Sports
GLENDALE, Ariz. – The big stage was too bright for the Arizona Cardinals on Monday.
The San Francisco 49ers thoroughly dominated the Arizona Cardinals on Monday Night Football and took control of the NFC West with a 24-3 beatdown.
“Disappointing,” a dejected Ken Whisenhunt said. “On that kind of stage, you want to play better. We didn’t do it. This team has bounced back before, so let’s see if we can do it now.”
Arizona offense struggled against the number one ranked defense in the league, which wasn’t too surprising. The Cardinals defense, the backbone of this team, continually gave up big plays and missed tackles.
“The biggest disappointment about this is we let our coach down,” Darnell Dockett said. “As players, we’re not giving enough back to him personally. He asked us to just go out and give him everything and I feel like some of us didn’t.”
Early on, San Francisco could not get out of their own way. The 49ers committed three penalties on the opening drive, settling for a punt. The Cardinals could not take advantage of that opportunity and San Francisco answered with a 10-play, 77-yard scoring drive to resulted in a three-yard touchdown catch by Michael Crabtree, his first of two on the night.
Alex Smith, who some felt like he was losing confidence, had a career night. Smith set a NFL record for the highest completion percentage in a single game, completing 18 of 19 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns.
“I wasn’t worried about any incompletions or anything like that,” Smith said. “I was just kind of in a good rhythm. The whole offense was.”
Smith and Crabtree connected for a nine-yard touchdown with 1:41 left in the half, giving San Francisco a 17-0 lead. The Niners outgained Arizona 212-69 after two quarters. The Cardinals finished the game with 265 total yards, but just seven rushing yards.
“We’re not going to do very well if we keep running the football like we did tonight,” Whisenhunt said. “When a guy lines up over your nose and you completely miss him, that’s not good enough.”
Arizona is just the third team in NFL history to lose four straight after starting the season 4-0. The 1993 Philadelphia Eagles missed the playoffs, finishing 8-8, while the 2002 Oakland Raiders lost in Super Bowl XXXVII after an 11-5 season.
“We did it earlier in the season, we were able to find way to win,” John Skelton said after a 32 for 52, 290 yard night.” It just not working on game day and we’ve got to find a way and the answers are in our room.”
The Cardinals will have to turn things around on a short week. Arizona travels to Lambeau Field to face the 4-3 Green Bay Packers, who have won three straight games.