Smith outshines Rodgers in 49ers' victory


Smith outshines Rodgers in 49ers' victory

GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- Quarterback Alex Smith did not throw for as many yards as Aaron Rodgers, but he did everything else better on Sunday.It's Week 1 of the NFL season, and the 49ers wasted no time in getting a marquee 30-22 victory over the Green Bay Packers, a team ESPN The Magazine predicted would finish with a 16-0 record.So much for Packers perfection. The 49ers played a top-notch all-around game to register the franchise's first victory at Lambeau Field in eight tries, spanning 22 years.And Smith was not just along for the ride. He broke the team record, previously held by Steve Young, for most consecutive passes without throwing an interception while orchestrating a balanced offensive attack.
"I thought he was great," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "All game he used his legs, his arm, his mind, his toughness. He was really efficient tonight, and he had a heck of a ballgame."Smith completed 20 of 26 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 125.6. He was sacked four times, as left tackle Joe Staley had his struggles against Green Bay outside linebacker Clay Matthews, who recorded 2.5 sacks.Rodgers, the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player, completed 30 of 44 attempts for 303 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman's interception of Rodgers was the only turnover of the game. And it led directly to Frank Gore's 23-yard touchdown run midway through the fourth quarter. Gore finished with 112 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries."I think we played good team football for 60 minutes," Smith said. "It wasn't perfect, by any means. But everyone was helping each other and executing. It's tough to come in here on the road on opening day in a loud place, a lot of things against you. And we were able to come out with a win."Said Rodgers, "It's one game. This is a team that was in the NFC championship game last year. It's a good team. Hopefully, we see them down the playoffs."And if there is a meeting in January, the 49ers took a huge step toward ensuring that game would take place in Candlestick Park. With the head-to-head victory, the 49ers would own the tie-breaker advantage. But that's getting way ahead of ourselves.In the immediate future, the 49ers gave a glimpse Sunday of what can be expected from an offense that gave very few clues during the exhibition season.
Smith made good use of the 49ers' improved corps of wide receivers. He targeted Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss and Mario Manningham on 17 passes. He completed 15 of those pass attempts.Crabtree led the way with seven catches for 76 yards. Manningham had four receptions for 29 yards.Moss had a successful return to football in a familiar place. He sat out last season. He played his first seven seasons for the Minnesota Vikings, and played eight times previously at Lambeau Field.Moss, who played approximately 20 of the 49ers' 62 offensive snaps in the game, had four catches for 47 yards. His 14-yard scoring pass from Smith gave the 49ers a 10-0 lead early in the second quarter."We got what we were looking for and he (Moss) blew open," said Smith, who also tossed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Vernon Davis. "I think his eyes lighted up bigger than mine and he made a great catch. I'm happy for him to get that touchdown out of the way, so he doesn't have to deal with that."It was Moss' 154th career touchdown, one more than Terrell Owens, and it moved him into second place all-time in NFL history behind Jerry Rice's 197 touchdown catches. Fourteen of Moss' touchdowns have come against the Packers -- the record for opposing players.It was also a record-setting day for Smith, who now has attempted 185 regular-season passes without throwing an interception. Young held the record at 184, which he set in 1993. And Smith's mark does not include the 68 pass attempts in two playoff games without an interception."For me, just making good decisions and being smart with the football," Smith said. "It starts with that, and I think we did a good job of that tonight."Smith was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. Rodgers was the 24th overall selection. But it's Rodgers who has turned into, perhaps, the best player in the game. Rodgers and Smith have remained close, and Rodgers last week showed great support for Smith during a conference call with Bay Area reporters."It's humbling," Smith said. "You know he is arguably playing the quarterback position as well as it has ever been played. You look at last year, what he did, numbers aside, just his play on the field and as good as he was last year. It's humbling when a guy like that gives you a compliment."

Seahawks lose Thomas, but run all over Panthers in Seattle

Seahawks lose Thomas, but run all over Panthers in Seattle


SEATTLE -- Thomas Rawls ran for 103 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, Tyler Lockett took a reverse 75 yards for a score to open the second half and the Seattle Seahawks routed the Carolina Panthers 40-7 on Sunday night.

Another prime-time game in Seattle was clouded with odd story lines right from the outset when Carolina quarterback Cam Newton was benched for the first play, only to watch backup Derek Anderson throw an interception . It was the start of miserable night for Carolina (4-8) and a laugher that moved Seattle (8-3-1) one step closer to the NFC West title.

Rawls and the run game set the tone for Seattle, gashing the second-best run defense in the NFL for 240 yards. Carolina entered the week giving up less than 80 yards per game on the ground.

Rawls finished with 106 yards on 15 carries, quiet in the second half after briefly being checked for a concussion. He was just the second 100-yard rusher for a run game that has lagged most of the season. Rawls' 8-yard run gave Seattle an early 10-0 lead and his 45-yard sprint early in the second quarter pushed it to 17-7.

Russell Wilson was 26 of 36 for 277 yards and a 1-yard scoring pass to Jimmy Graham in the fourth quarter. The Seahawks rolled up a season-high 534 yards and kept a three-game lead over Arizona in the division with four remaining.

Seattle safety Earl Thomas broke a bone in his lower left leg during a first-half collision with teammate Kam Chancellor while trying to intercept Newton's pass. Thomas hobbled off the field putting no weight on the leg and X-rays revealed a "cracked tibia," coach Pete Carroll told Seattle's radio broadcast.

On the play after Thomas' injury, Newton hit Ted Ginn Jr. on a 55-yard touchdown pass to pull the Panthers to 10-7. It would be the only highlight for Carolina.

Rawls immediately answered, darting through the Carolina defense for the 45-yard touchdown run and a 17-7 lead. Steven Hauschka added two more field goals before halftime and Lockett raced 75 yards on a reverse on the first play of the second half. In less than 10 minutes of game time, Seattle extended the lead to 30-7.

Newton's benching was for a dress code violation, according to the NBC broadcast and the single play he missed could not have gone worse. Anderson rolled out to throw a pass to Mike Tolbert. It bounced off Tolbert's hands and into the arms of Mike Morgan, a disastrous result for that only added to questions about coach Ron Rivera's intention with the punishment.

Newton finished 14 of 32 for 182 yards.


It was seventh meeting in the past five years between the Seahawks and Panthers, playoffs included. It was the first time of the seven the game was decided by more than 14 points. Five of the previous six were decided by seven points or less. The biggest win during the stretch was Seattle's 31-17 win in the 2014 playoffs.


Carolina's injury list grew again.

The Panthers were already without starters Kurt Coleman and Luke Kuechly (concussions), and defensive end Mario Addison (foot) on defense, and right tackle Daryl Williams (ankle) on offense. Carolina then lost cornerback Daryl Worley and linebacker David Mayo to concussions against the Seahawks.


One of the most emotional players on Seattle's roster, Thomas hinted at retirement in a tweet sent just before halftime.

"This game has been so good to me no regrets. A lot is running through my mind including retirement thanks for all the prayers," Thomas tweeted from the Seattle locker room.

Thomas missed the first game of his career last week at Tampa Bay due to a hamstring injury.


Panthers: Carolina returns home and hosts San Diego.

Seahawks: Seattle travels to Green Bay.

Cardinals beat Washington, allow Cowboys to clinch playoff spot


Cardinals beat Washington, allow Cowboys to clinch playoff spot


GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Carson Palmer threw for 300 yards and three touchdowns, David Johnson scored twice and the Arizona Cardinals held on to beat Washington 31-23 on Sunday.

The loss by Washington (6-5-1) clinched a playoff spot for the 11-1 Dallas Cowboys.

Palmer's 25-yard touchdown pass to Johnson with 11:09 to play put Arizona ahead 24-20, the fourth lead change of the second half.

After a Washington field goal, Palmer's 42-yard touchdown pass to J.J. Nelson with 1:56 padded gave the Cardinals (5-6-1) a 31-23 lead.

Washington drove to the Arizona 28-yard line before Patrick Peterson's interception of Kirk Cousins' pass with 41 seconds left sealed the victory.

Johnson, who also scored on a 1-yard run, became the second player in NFL history to top 100 yards from scrimmage in the first 12 games of a season. Edgerrin James was the other.

Johnson carried the ball 18 times for 84 yards and caught nine passes for another 91.

Larry Fitzgerald caught 10 passes for 78 yards, moving past Cris Carter into third on the NFL career receptions list.

Cousins completed 21 of 37 passes for 271 yards and a touchdown. His 59-yard pass to DeSean Jackson on the first series of the second half set up his 1-yard touchdown sneak.

In the third quarter, Cousins was stripped of the ball by Calais Campbell, and Markus Golden returned the fumble 20 yards to set up Palmer's six-yard touchdown pass toMichael Floyd.

That gave Arizona a 17-13 lead. Washington came right back. Cousins threw to a wide-open Jamison Crowder on a 26-yard touchdown play to put Washington back on top, 20-17, with 1:06 left in the third quarter.

The Cardinals avoided what would have been the team's first three-game losing streak since coach Bruce Arians came to the desert four seasons ago.

Washington center Spencer Long left the game early to be evaluated for a concussion and did not return.

Washington was without standout tight end Jordan Reed and Arizona didn't have do-everything defensive back Tyrann Mathieu. Both have shoulder injuries.

Washington: Washington returns to NFC East play with a game at Philadelphia next on Sunday.

Cardinals: Arizona travels across the country to face Miami on Sunday.