Posted October 29, 2012 on AP on Fox
Alex Smith threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree, giving the San Francisco 49ers a 7-0 lead over the Arizona Cardinals in the first quarter Monday night. San Francisco had its way with Arizona's defense early, rolling up 113 yards in the first quarter of a rare game with the roof open at University of Phoenix Stadium. The 49ers stalled out in their first drive, thanks to a facemask penalty, but moved 77 yards in 10 plays on their scoring drive. Smith kept it going after a holding penalty by hitting Delanie Walker on a 23-yard pass to Arizona's 10. Two plays later, Smith threw a quick pass to Crabtree, who grabbed the ball above the head of cornerback Patrick Peterson for the score. Arizona got off to a good start, with running back LaRod Stephens-Howling breaking free for a 24-yard reception on a screen pass in the Cardinals' first play. Like so many Cardinals drives this season, the progress fizzled out and the drive ended when John Skelton threw a pass that was nearly intercepted. Arizona's second drive was even worse: three and out with a false-start penalty, minus-7 yards. The Cardinals' start was no surprise; Monday nights have been a horror show for them since moving to the desert in 1988. Arizona has lost seven of eight under the spotlight and the last two were memorably ugly for what happened after the game. In 2006, Cardinals' coach Dennis Green had one of the NFL's biggest meltdowns, shouting ''They are who we thought they were!'' during his postgame news conference after a loss to the Bears. Arizona quarterback Derek Anderson did his best Green imitation in 2010, when he shouted ''Nothing's funny to me!'' after a reporter repeatedly asked him why he was smiling during the closing seconds of blowout loss to the 49ers - Arizona's last game on Monday Night Football. On the field, this NFC West showdown figured to be a physical beatdown. For one, these two teams don't like each other much, trading insults before the games, blows once they started. They also have two of the NFL's best defenses, aggressive units that try to knock opponents senseless. The 49ers came in with the league's best defense, a punch-you-in-the-mouth group led by a dominating front seven that includes three All-Pros: defensive tackle Justin Smith and linebackers Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman. San Francisco entered Monday night's game tied with Chicago for the NFL's best scoring defense, allowing 14.3 points per game, and has held three teams to 115 yards passing or less. Arizona has the NFL's seventh overall defense and is third in scoring at 16.9 points per game. The Cardinals have been an opportunistic bunch, too, creating 15 turnovers the first seven games. Arizona got the first good lick against San Francisco in the first quarter, when cornerback Patrick Peterson laid out 49ers receiver Mario Manningham on a screen pass. The 49ers pushed right back, rolling over the Cardinals' defense on their scoring drive while their defense stifled one of the NFL's worst offenses in two opening drives, holding Arizona to 22 total yards.
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