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Lights Go Out In the Stadium and On the Steelers in 20-3 Loss to Niners

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers throws a deep pass on the run against the San Francisco 49ers

With a chance to basically cement home field advantage in the postseason, the Steelers wasted a golden opportunity in San Francisco Monday night, falling to the 49ers 20-3 to fall to 10-4 on the season.

The black and gold with a win would have put a strangle hold on the conference, as they would have controlled their own destiny to home field with wins in the final two games against the Rams and at Cleveland on January 1st.

Instead, they now are back to being the fifth seed in the conference, and need either Cleveland or Cincinnati to beat Baltimore in the final two weeks, and they also need to win out in order to retake the division crown.

It was a gutsy effort for QB Ben Roethlisberger, who played the entire game, which was late in getting started and then delayed due to power outages at Candlestick Park.

Roethlisberger, playing with a grade one ankle sprain, went 25-for-44 for 330 yards with three of picks, two of which led to 49ers field goals as they led 6-0 at the half.

Field position was against the Steelers all night, and the 49ers defense was as good as advertised, not allowing much all night to a Steelers offense that has had its own issues over the last two weeks. The average start for the Steelers on the night was their own 15-yard line.

Alex Smith and the San Fran offense wasn’t spectacular either, but they were effective and mistake free, as Smith came through with some solid throws when needed.

He ended the night going 18-for-31 for 187 yards with a TD throw of one-yard to Vernon Davis with 3:44 left in the third that extended the San Fran lead to 13-3.

The game was put out of reach early in the fourth when Justin Smith stripped Roethlisberger of the ball on a sack at the Steelers 17 with 11 and a half minutes left.

They got a “leaping” call on Lawrence Timmons to give them a first and goal at the five, and two plays later Frank Gore went in to make it a 20-3 game.

San Fran scored 13 of their 20 points on the three Steelers turnovers.

The injuries kept mounting for the Steelers during the game, as already without James Harrison who was suspended, they also lost LB LaMarr Woodley with another hamstring injury in the fourth quarter.

The Steelers are at home on Christmas Eve Saturday to take on the 2-12 St.Louis Rams at 1pm.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Thomas Crowley

    December 20, 2011 at 1:33 am

    Hey loede should of Ywaited to see what would happen tonight. Before you ran you’re mouth, now you look like a damn fool.

  2. Thomas Crowley

    December 20, 2011 at 1:36 am

    Despite the ravens getting humilated in san diego.
    Steelers returned the favor now the ravens are back in 1st place.

  3. Matt Loede

    December 20, 2011 at 1:37 am

    Look like a fool? Hmmm…Crowley, why don’t you get back to me and Steeler Nation when you win something worth talking about. Better get ready, your Rats are gonna choke in Cincy in two weeks, and the division will still be ours – bank on it.

  4. Thomas Crowley

    December 20, 2011 at 1:53 am

    Just responding to what you said on the other post.
    Trust me i know the ravens haven’t won anything yet.
    I wouldn’t have said anything, if it wasn’t for that comment

  5. Thomas Crowley

    December 20, 2011 at 1:54 am

    We win the next 2 games we win the divison we’ll see what happens

  6. Peter

    December 20, 2011 at 2:00 am

    I am trying to understand how this Crowley person’s opinion is relevant or for that matter how any Ravens fan has room to talk. They have won nothing. All you need to say Matt is that we have 6 Lombardi trophies. The Ravens loss was much worse. Their emotional leader and convicted felon Ray lewis was back and they got bitch slapped from the opening whistle. Our QB was at 40% at best and the Steelers were still in the game in the second half until turnovers finally did us in.

    Root hard for the Giants and Bengals this weekend Steeler nation. The game in Cincy week 17 needs to matter. I will let Mark, Jay, Doc and George breakdown what the Steelers did poorly. I am going to remain optimistic of our chances to get a bye in the first round. Our biggest issue is going to be the health of our football team. We have flaws for sure but our four losses so far this year have come against teams with a combined 41-15 record. Correct me if my math is wrong but you get my point.

    Here we go Steelers, Here we go!!!!!!!!!!

    • Thomas Crowley

      December 20, 2011 at 2:43 am

      What have steelers won this year ? nothing same as the ravens

  7. Mike

    December 20, 2011 at 2:05 am

    I fucking hate you Crowley. I would love to spend 5 minutes in the octagon with you so i could mangle your face and make you bleed…i need pleh. i take this shit to seriously. But i still hate you crowley and would love to fight you…i know i am immature but christ you suck donkey balls, Crowley. If only Sandusky hadn’t….

  8. Thomas Crowley

    December 20, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Mike go see someone you need help dude

  9. Rich

    December 20, 2011 at 3:02 am

    I mean..that was terrible all the way around. I think it’s finally time to start getting worried about Polamalu. He isn’t making big plays at all. None.

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  11. Mark

    December 20, 2011 at 8:35 am

    With home field on the line, this is what we get? WOW. I guess us Steeler fans should watch the game Saturday because its the last game our Steelers will be wearing Black jerseys in. Give credit to a very solid 49ers team. They played a great defensive game but as typical, the Steelers made it easier for them. Where were the screens? the “sticking to the run”?, What about an intermediate passing game? No, it was typical “feast or famine” offense. Our defense did their best last night. Its our offense that is killing us. Lets see, Chief game: 13 points, Browns game: 14 points and last night a robust 3. Who are you beating in January with that output? Patriots? Ravens? Chargers? Hell, even Broncos would love that! This team has 2 weeks to fix what ails them. Yes, injuries are a part of this but the offense has to improve. If they do NOT get better, its 1 and done on our season.

  12. Jeff - Sterling, MA

    December 20, 2011 at 10:06 am

    Watching that game last night was like going to the dentist 4 a root canal. that sucked!!

  13. DrGeorge

    December 20, 2011 at 11:15 am

    The media will blame the loss on Ben’s interceptions and sacks, a defense without a pass rush, and a deficient kicking game. Yet the Steelers are a more talented team than the 49ers and should have won last night. The Steelers lost the game conceptually — they were out-coached.

    If a game ever demonstrated Bruce Arians limitations as an offensive coordinator, this game was the one. His entire offensive strategy is predicated on Ben R. When Ben is 60%, so is this offense. A coordinator must adapt to the talent available. Yet knowing Ben was injured and confined to the pocket, Arians game plan called for pass patterns that took too long to develop and Ben (as usual) held the ball too long. The rushing attack was anemic, not because of our RBs, but because our blocking schemes were so predictable and poorly conceived — almost high school in their lack of originality.

    Yes, the 49ers D is a good one, but it is not a great one. It was Bruce Arians that made us one dimensional. In fact, we have been for four years. It is merely less obvious when Ben is healthy and mobile, and when we had Bettis to provide a power rushing game. Our superstars have in recent years masked the underlying defects of our offense.

    Our defense, we put up a valiant effort. However, the 49ers ran effectively against us all night, as good rushing teams have been able to do all year. Were it not for Polamalu and Clark making open field tackles, the result could have been much worse. Once again, Farrior and Timmons proved a step slow in covering drag routes by tight ends. Half back delays effectively thwarted our blitzes. All this by a team that lost 3 straight, directed by a QB (Smith) who is average at best.

    All of which makes the obvious point: football is still a team game. The 49ers played as a team. By contrast, the Steelers have, by their own design, become dependent on ‘superstars’ on both sides of the ball. When either Ben or Troy is not at his best or injured or absent, the offense or defense struggles badly. That approach to the game is simply flawed. The Steelers are already guaranteed a spot in the playoffs. But until the coaching staff achieves better balance on both sides of the ball, the Steelers will continue to struggle, even against teams as unremarkable as the 49ers.

  14. Rich

    December 20, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Agree Mark, this teams offensive output has been sub-par for a while now. NOt quite sure how we plan on beating the Patriots a second time scoring like this. Or, even if we do, how we plan on keeping up with the Saints or Packers with this type of offensive production.

  15. SBSteelers

    December 21, 2011 at 2:58 am

    Just second guessing Tomlin, but I thought Ben should have sat the game out. It would have given Batch playing time while resting Ben’s sprain. The Steelers were in the playoffs and still have a several game lead over Denver for bye home field – at that was the worst case before the 49er game. And all of us know Tomlin can lead this team to win every playoff game on the road if need be. It’s water over the dam now but I’d rather see Ben a bit healthier for the playoff run.

    • Steelfan

      December 21, 2011 at 5:03 am

      SB, the Steelers will not have home field against Denver because Denver will be a division winner. Even though the steelers should end up with a better record than the Broncos, Denver will have home field advantage if they play eachother

    • DrGeorge

      December 21, 2011 at 3:47 pm

      SB, regarding Tomlin’s decision to play Ben R. —

      I think the importance of the game to the entire team and Ben’s own desire to play heavily influenced him. Ben at 60% is perceived by the team as equal to or better than Batch or Dixon. If the Steelers had lost to the 49ers while Ben sat, the whole world would have wondered “What if?” Tomlin didn’t want the team to blame him, even subconsciously, for scuttling their chance for home field advantage by sitting Ben.

      Apparently, most commentators agree with his decision. As bad as the outcome was, there aren’t any media mavens that I’ve read who believe that Batch or Dixon would have done any better than Ben.

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