Stingy 49ers defense denies Detroit in 27-19 win

Associated Press Modified: September 17, 2012 at 3:04 am •  Published: September 17, 2012
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Alex Smith had rallied his team for a late victory against the Lions last fall at Ford Field, and had no intention of cutting it close this time on his home turf.

Eleven months later Smith and his Niners were dominant with the football world watching.

Smith threw touchdown passes of 21 and 23 yards to tight end Vernon Davis, the defense shut down a prolific passer for the second time in as many weeks, and the San Francisco 49ers beat Detroit 27-19 Sunday night in a September showdown of NFC powers that hardly lived up to its hype.

The Lions didn't do their part.

"It's another win, obviously on a big stage, Sunday night against a really good opponent, playoff team last year," Smith said. "The game came down to the wire last season at their place. So, now we have them at our place and we wanted to set the tone early."

San Francisco stymied 2011 NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers in Week 1, then record-setting Matthew Stafford in Week 2.

This stingy, opportunistic defense denied Stafford another milestone and again is making its mark as one of the league's elite units by shutting down the top offenses and most prolific passers.

Smith completed 20 of 31 throws for 226 yards and extended his franchise-record streak of passes without an interception to 216. He led the reigning NFC West champion Niners (2-0) to their ninth straight win in the series since the Lions' last victory on Sept. 25, 1995. Smith took a hard hand to the helmet from John Wendling late and bloodied his nose, then found Davis again.

"He's as tough as a $2 steak," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "I grew up eating a lot of them. I know what I'm talking about."

The 49ers ran their home winning streak against the Lions to 12 games since Detroit's last victory at Candlestick Park on Nov. 2, 1975.

And no heated greeting after this one. Harbaugh and Lions coach Jim Schwartz met each other with a friendly hello and handshake during pregame warm-ups, then an uneventful shake and half-hug when time expired.

"I thought it went good," Harbaugh said.

Gore carried 17 times for 89 yards and a 1-yard touchdown, just missing his second 100-yard game this year and fourth in the series.

Calvin Johnson caught eight passes for 94 yards, but that was hardly enough as the Lions (1-1) didn't get closer than the 20 until their final drive on a cool, windy night by the bay. San Francisco's secondary kept Megatron from catching a touchdown pass for the second straight matchup, forcing Stafford to rely heavily on the running game.

Another impressive outing by a defense that shut down Rodgers in a 30-22 win over the Packers last week at Lambeau Field.

"That's our 'D,'" tight end Delanie Walker said. "They're some dogs."

Stafford finished 19 for 32 with 230 yards, one touchdown and an interception, missing a chance to become the first player in NFL history to throw for 350 yards in five straight games. Drew Brees of the Saints surpassed 350 yards passing in four consecutive games last season.

Stafford threw for 355 yards in last week's 27-23 win over St. Louis at home, but also had three interceptions before halftime for the first time — and said he couldn't do that again for the Lions to win. He never got in sync.

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