With all of the talk about the San Francisco 49ers problems on offense, maybe their solid defense went without notice.
The Niners defense had their hands full with Michael Vick and the Philadelphia Eagles, forcing three turnovers along the way. And coupled with a terrific second half by quarterback Alex Smith, San Francisco earned their first back-to-back road win since 2006 by the score of 24-23 at Lincoln Financial Field.
Philly got out to a 20-3 halftime lead after a pair of touchdown passes from Michael Vick and two field goals from Alex Henery, while San Francisco could only counter with a David Akers field goal as Alex Smith and the running game simply couldn't get out of the gate. But the defense showed some signs of life in the first half with a Carlos Rogers interception and a goal line fumble from Ronnie Brown, setting things up for the Niners second half charge.
Alex Smith went off in the second half, throwing a 30 yard touchdown pass to Joshua Morgan and a 9 yard toss to Vernon Davis in the third quarter to get San Francisco within a touchdown, then went ahead in the fourth quarter behind another strong drive and a 12 yard TD run from Frank Gore. The play of the game came from Justin Smith, forcing a down field fumble from Jeremy Maclin with around two minutes left in the game, closing the coffin on Vick and the Eagles for good. Alex Henery's two missed field goals in the second half didn't hurt either.
Smith finished the game 21/33 for 291 yards and no interceptions as well, capping off his best game of the year thus far, while Gore ran for 15 carries and 127 yards, his best game of the year as well. Vernon Davis finished with 4 catches for 45 yards, while rookie Kendall Hunter added 38 yards on 9 carries as well as 62 yards receiving. Michael Crabtree led all receivers with five catches for 68 yards.
Despite Michael Vick bobbing and weaving in and out of Niners defenders and finishing 30-46 for 416 with 2 TD's through the air and 75 rush yards as well, he simply couldn't get the job done. Philly made seven trips to the red zone with only 23 points to show for it, with 10 of their points coming from 49ers mistakes (blocked Akers field goal and Alex Smith fumble). There were numerable mistakes made by both squads, but the Niners somehow came out of it with the W today. And even though it's been the opposite of pretty, the Niners are 3-1 and atop the NFC West.
Full box score can be found here.
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