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49ers 20, Steelers 3

49ers are lights out

Roethlisberger, Steelers stumble

By Janie McCauley
Associated Press / December 20, 2011
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SAN FRANCISCO - Monday Night Football nearly became a Monday Night Fiasco.

San Francisco’s lights-out return to prime time helped salvage what could have been an embarrassing night for everyone involved on the NFL’s biggest stage after a pair of power outages delayed the game for close to 35 minutes in all.

The 49ers rode their top-ranked run defense once again to beat ailing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-3, last night.

Vernon Davis caught a 1-yard touchdown pass for the 49ers (11-3) one play after setting himself up with a 21-yard reception from Alex Smith, Frank Gore ran for a 5-yard score, and David Akers kicked field goals of 22 and 38 yards to overtake Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for San Francisco’s season scoring record.

The Steelers (10-4) missed a key chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC North and gain the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed. New England (11-3), coming off a 41-23 victory over Denver Sunday, now owns the conference’s top spot.

“I think we showed the world we can play the game of football on a national stage,’’ Davis said. “At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about: respect.’’

Roethlisberger, playing on a sprained left ankle that had him in a walking boot during the week, threw two early interceptions and another in the waning minutes.

Even all those Terrible Towel-waving Steelers supporters couldn’t will their team when San Francisco’s unique home-field advantage became two blackout delays.

San Francisco became the first team in NFL history to hold an opponent without a rushing touchdown through each of the first 14 games.

Roethlisberger still finished 25 for 44 for 330 yards, but was sacked three times. After his second pick, he fumed as he limped off the field.

The 49ers made a big statement in their most meaningful home game since their last trip to the playoffs in January 2003, when San Francisco came from behind to stun the New York Giants, 39-38, in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

They had to wait 20 minutes to get started after the power went out the first time. It didn’t seem to faze San Francisco.

The second delay came early in the second quarter and halted the game again between the playoff-bound teams for about 15 minutes.

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