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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) â€” Ben Roethlisberger threw a few extra passes in near darkness after the lights went out at Candlestick Park.
The additional throws were all for naught. Big Ben never found his groove playing on a bum ankle â€” and the San Francisco 49ersâ€™ top-ranked defense wasnâ€™t about to let the most unique of home-field advantages get away in a 20-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday night.
â€śJust wondering how this happens at a professional stadium,â€ť Roethlisberger said of not one but two blackouts.
Monday Night Football nearly became a Monday Night Fiasco.
San Franciscoâ€™s lights-out return to prime time helped salvage what could have been an embarrassing evening for everyone involved on the NFLâ€™s biggest stage after a pair of power outages delayed the game for close to 35 minutes in all.
â€śI just feel like San Francisco took a big step to show the NFL and to show the state of California that they need a new stadium,â€ť Steelers safety Ryan Clark said. â€śI think it was a very strategic move, and Candlestick may be no more.â€ť
Good thing thereâ€™s a state-of-the-art $1 billion stadium in the works.
The 49ers rode stellar run defense once again to keep the ailing Roethlisberger off balance and maintain a hold on the NFCâ€™s No. 2 playoff seed and a first-round bye.
â€śElectric atmosphere tonight,â€ť tweeted team president Jed York â€” unclear if his pun was intended.
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 had a 5-yard scoring run and David Akers kicked field goals of 22 and 38 yards to overtake Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for San Franciscoâ€™s single-season scoring record.
â€śI think we showed the world we can play the game of football on a national stage,â€ť Davis said. â€śAt the end of the day thatâ€™s what itâ€™s all about: respect.â€ť
The Steelers (10-4) missed a key chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC North and hold of the AFCâ€™s top playoff spot.
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 â€” and a couple of light structures flickered as the final ticks elapsed.
Even all those Terrible Towel-waving Steelers supporters in the sellout crowd of 69,732 couldnâ€™t will their team when San Francisco had two blackout delays on its side.
â€śItâ€™s very frustrating to feel like you let down your team and your fans and your coaches. Itâ€™s tough,â€ť Roethlisberger said. â€śIâ€™m not going to make excuses. I played a bad football game, I turned the ball over and that oneâ€™s on me.â€ť
San Francisco became the first team in NFL history to hold an opponent without a rushing touchdown through each of the first 14 games.
â€śI also want to recognize our defense,â€ť 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. â€śNFL record for not allowing a rushing touchdown in 14 games. I think that is huge.â€ť
Carlos Rogers, Dashon Goldson and Tarell Brown made interceptions, while Rookie of the Year candidate Aldon Smith had 2 1/2 sacks for San Franciscoâ€™s defense.