Tuesday, November 30, 2010
49ers, Westbrook run it up vs Cardinals
For San Francisco 49ers running back Brian Westbrook, Monday night's football game was a return to his glory days, and his efforts kept the 49ers in legitimate contention for the NFC West race.
Replacing Frank Gore, who left with a hip injury, Westbrook had 23 carries for 136 yards and his first touchdown in a 49ers uniform. It was Westbrook's 19th career 100-yard game and first since Week 14 of the 2008 season. That game against the Giants, was the second of back-to-back 100+ yards games for Westbrook. The first happened to also come against the same Arizona Cardinals he beat up on Monday.
The 49ers, who entered 25th in the NFL in rushing yards, scored a season-high 27 points and got their first road win of the season. The Carolina Panthers are the only NFL team that has not yet scored 27 points in a game. The Panthers and Detroit Lions are now the only remaining winless road teams.
The story of this game was a major ground-game advantage for the 49ers, who rushed for 261 yards and allowed just 13 to the Arizona Cardinals. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the biggest rushing yardage differential between two teams in a Monday Night Football game since 1998 when the 49ers outgained the Lions by 259 yards, and the third-biggest such difference all-time. The 20 to 1 ratio for rushing yards gained between the two teams was a Monday Night Football first.
How did the 49ers get it done?
Westbrook rushed for 69 yards and six first downs on 13 attempts when the Cardinals had eight or more defenders in the box on Monday (5.3 yds/rush; 2.2 rush/first down). While with the Eagles from 2008-2009, Westbrook averaged only 3.2 yards per attempt and gained a first down every four rushes when opposing defenses lined up with eight or more defenders in the box.
He did much of his damage against the Cardinals on Monday night when running between the tackles. Included in his season-high 136 rush yards were 99 up the middle (6.2 yds per rush). The Cardinals’ rushing defense was shredded by that strategy. The Cardinals, who entered allowing 3.8 yards per run up the middle, yielded 6.5 in this contest.
The Cardinals have lost six straight games, their longest losing streak since an 8-game skid in 2006. They now are 1-8 on Monday Night Football since 1986. Arizona rushed for just 13 yards, the second-fewest in a game in franchise history and all eight of its first downs came via the air. The Cardinals are the first team this season with no rushing first downs in a game.