49ers Vs. Steelers: Notable Stats And Performances

The San Francisco 49ers handled their business last night, but due to the late nature of the game I didn't get the notable stats and quotes press release until late last night. Given the dominant performance of the 49ers defense, I wanted to make sure and get this posted, even a day later.

The 49ers defense is on pace for one of the best seasons in franchise history in a variety of ways. They are the first team in NFL history to not give up a rushing touchdown through 14 weeks. They have not given up a 100-yard rushing performance since 2009. They are giving up 13.2 points per game, which remains .4 points ahead of the franchise record from 1976. The 49ers lead the NFL with a +25 turnover differential which is just plain filthy.

The rushing touchdown mark is taking on a life of its own with even Bodog starting to offer some odds. Heading into Week 15, the Steelers were -165 to NOT get a rushing touchdown. For the season prior to Sunday the 49ers were -200 to give up a rushing touchdown before the end of the season. For those not familiar, that means the odds were that Pittsburgh would not score a rushing touchdown, but the odds are higher that the 49ers will give up a rushing touchdown before the end of the season.

The 49ers have two incredibly tough opponents in the ground game these final two weeks. This Saturday they face Marshawn Lynch who has really taken on his #BeastMode nickname. The following week the 49ers face Steven Jackson in St. Louis. Jackson is definitely tough, but Lynch is on a roll lately.

Even if the 49ers give up a touchdown or two the rest of the season, this rushing defense has been one of the best in recent memory top to bottom. They give up very few double digit yardage runs and they clamp up big time in the red zone. All it takes is one blown assignment for a running back to take one to the house and the 49ers have avoided that through 14 games. If they could post a rushing touchdown shutout in 2011 that would be pretty amazing. There is occasionally a bit of luck and good timing involved, but to last this long transcends luck and happenstance.

With the win...

· San Francisco improved to 11-3 this season and recorded their first 11-win season since 2001.

· The 49ers improved to 7-1 at home this season, marking the first time the 49ers have won at least seven home games since 2001.

· The 49ers improved their overall series record vs. the Steelers to 11-9 and 6-5 at home. It also marked their 5th win against Pittsburgh in the last 7 matchups.

· The 49ers Monday Night Football record improved to 41-25, including a 23-11 record at home.

Prime Time at The Stick

· According to the Elias Sports Bureau, tonight was the 34th Monday Night Football game at Candlestick Park, the most MNF games at any NFL stadium.

Points Are Hard To Come By

· The 49ers defense ranks 1st in the NFL, allowing just 13.2 points per game.

· The 13.2 points per game allowed is on pace to rank 1st in franchise history for a single season.

Stifling Defense

· San Francisco is the first team in NFL history not to allow a rushing TD in the first 14 games of a season.

· Dating back to last season, the 49ers defense has not allowed a rushing TD in 15 consecutive games, which ranks 1st in team history.

· The 15-game streak of not allowing a rushing TD also ranks t-1st in the NFL since 1970.

Run Defense Continues Streak

· The 49ers run defense has not allowed a 100-yd. rusher in the last 36 games, which marks the longest active streak in the NFL. Since the start of the 2000 season, the 49ers streak of 36 games without allowing a 100-yd rusher ranks t-2nd in the NFL.

· The 49ers are the only team in the NFL to not allow a 100-yd. rusher this season.

Knocking It Down

· The 49ers defense registered 9 PDs on the day vs. Pittsburgh, giving them 96 for the season. The 96 PDs rank 1st in the NFL this season.

· LB Larry Grant tallied a career-high and a 49ers single-game high 4 PDs on the night.

Lighting Up The Scoreboard

· K David Akers has notched 143 points this season, setting the new single-season franchise record. WR Jerry Rice previously held the record with 138 points in 1987.

· Akers leads the NFL in points (143) and FGs (38).

Bombs Away

· P Andy Lee boomed 6 punts for 285 yds. (47.5 avg.), including a net of 49.5 and 4 punts downed inside the 20-yd. line.

· On the season, Lee ranks first in the NFL with a net avg. of 44.14, and is on pace to set the NFL record for highest net avg. in a single season (Oak. P Shane Lechler - 43.85 avg. in 2009).

Bringing ‘Em Down

· LB Aldon Smith recorded 2.5 sacks on QB Ben Roethlisberger in the 4th qtr. He now has 13.0 sacks on the season. His 13.0 sacks rank 1st among NFL rookies, while ranking t-5th among all players.

· Since sacks became an official statistic in 1982, Smith's 13.0 sacks on the season is the highest total by a rookie in franchise history.

Meet You At The QB

· On a 2nd and 9 play in the 4th qtr., LB Aldon Smith and DT Ray McDonald dropped QB Ben Roethlisberger for a sack. On the play, McDonald registered his 2nd FF of the season, while DT JustinSmith picked up his 1st FR of the season and 8th of his career. The takeaway led to a 5-yd. TD run by RB Frank Gore to give the 49ers a 20-3 lead.

Seeing Red

· RB Frank Gore notched his 7th rushing TD of the season and 42nd of his career. It also marked his 4th rushing TD in 7 MNF games. Gore finished the game with 18 carries for 65 yds. and 1 TD.

· TE Vernon Davis hauled in his 6th TD of the season and 35th of his career. He has accounted for 26 of QB Alex Smith's 67 career TD passes (38.8 pct.). That is the highest pct. among all active teammates. Davis finished the day with 6 rec. for 72 yds. and 1 TD.

Gimme That

· The 49ers recorded 4 takeaways on the day (3 INTs, 1 FR), giving the team a league-high 35 takeaways on the season. The 49ers +25 turnover differential also ranks first in the NFL.

I've Got It

· The 49ers registered 21 INTs on the season, marking the most INTs by the team in a single season since 2003 when they registered 23.

· CB Carlos Rogers netted his 6th INT of the season, picking off QB Ben Roethlisberger on the opening drive for a gain of 31 yds., which led to a 22-yd. FG from K David Akers. He is t-4th in the NFL with 6 INTs on the season. Rogers is the first 49er to register 6 INTs in a season since CB Walt Harris posted 8 INTs in 2006.

· S Dashon Goldson notched his 6th INT on the season after picking off a Roethlisberger pass late in the 1st qtr., returning it 21 yds. to the Pit. 45-yd. line. Among safeties, his 6 INTs rank 2nd in the NFL (SD S. Eric Weddle - 7 INTs) and 1st in the NFC. Goldson's INT led to a 38-yd. FG by Akers on the ensuing drive.

· The last time the 49ers had 2 players register 6-or-more INTs in a single season was in 2001 (S Zack Bronson - 7 and CB Ahmed Plummer - 7).

· CB Tarell Brown registered his 2nd INT of the season and 7th of his career late in the 4th quarter.

49er Firsts

· WR Brett Swain registered his first reception as a member of the 49ers on a 9-yd. pass from QB Alex Smith.

· Rookie G Daniel Kilgore made his NFL debut.

Extending Their Streaks

· TE/LS Brian Jennings has now played in 190 consecutive games.

· DT Justin Smith has now started 169 consecutive games, dating back to his rookie season in 2001. Smith's consecutive start streak ranks 3rd among defensive players and 5th among all NFL players.

· TE Vernon Davis has now started 73 consecutive games, which ranks 3rd in the NFL among TE's behind Tony Gonzalez (83) and Jason Witten (79).

Head Coach Jim Harbaugh
Press Conference - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Opening Statement:

"Obviously, that was a great win for us. A great team win. This team has really become a team and I'm really proud of them for that. Also want to recognize our defense. NFL record, in the history of the NFL, not allowing a rushing touchdown for (the first) 14 games (of a season). I think that is huge. All credit to our guys on the defense for that and our coaches and all those men. Congratulations to [LB] Aldon Smith, too. Setting a (49ers) rookie record (for sacks in a season). There might be some other ones that I don't know about. Biggest thing is just really proud of our team. Great win"

What was it like in the locker room before the game?

"It was dark. (Laughs) Everybody just kind of rolled with it. Just updated them on what was going on. There was an ‘I'll let you know in five or 10 minutes.' Then we knew there was a transformer out, etc. It was lighthearted. Everybody just went with it."

Did it help loosen up the team at all?

"I don't really think it played a factor."

Any concern about the second outage, though, when the game was in progress?

"Again, just kind of rolled with it."

Did they at any point talk to you about contingencies in case the game couldn't be played?

"No."

It never got to that?

"No they did not. I also want to talk about our offensive line. I thought it was just one heck of a performance by our O-Line. Not giving up any sacks that I was aware of. A tremendous job by [QB] Alex Smith. He was just on the money all night long. Played great. There's no doubt in my mind that he deserves to go to the Pro Bowl. He's had that kind of season. I think he really put an exclamation point on that tonight. Also, a lot of credit to [P] Andy Lee. He was phenomenal tonight. He's been phenomenal all year. The ability to change, to completely flip the field position. We're snapping the ball from the 13 and then they got the ball on their 13. That's huge. You look at some of the difference in yardage, there's a lot of hidden yardage there. The turnovers are huge. Our defense coming up with the four turnovers and our team not committing any turnovers. That was good football. Really good football was played tonight by our guys against a very good football team."

With all the Steelers fans in attendance, did you really feel like this was a true home game?

"Yeah, we played good football tonight. I'd really like to focus on that. Not the lights. Not the locker room before the game. Not the contingencies. The fans were great. Our fans were phenomenal tonight. I really take my hat off to them. They were loud. I thought it was a great environment. Really proud of our guys for the football that they played."

Just on that same theme, with those things happening. With the lights, the distractions, the big stage and then your team to play as fundamentally sound. Did you learn a little bit about the team growing under these certain circumstances?

"I've known this team for a long time now. It didn't just take tonight. Our team, like I said, these guys have practiced together. They have learned together. They have fought together. Three hours on any given Sunday. They play with a light heart. They play with a humble heart. They play hard. They play hard. They play really good football. I'm proud of them. I'm proud to be a part of that team,"

How important was getting that touchdown when they narrowed it to 6-3? Not only do you drive it down but you punch it in.

"Very important. Again, a lot of credit goes to our offensive line. I thought they played a heck of a game. They were really square in pass protection. Picked up a lot of the pressures. Alex did a nice job stepping up. Opened up holes in the run game. We chipped away at it. We got first downs. We moved the ball pretty well on the night. Had good red zone production."

CB Carlos Rogers interception on their first drive... it looked like they were moving and boom he picks it off and you get it the other way.

"You talk about our secondary, it was an outstanding performance. Just really great football by our secondary. Carlos made a great play. Undercut the thin post. Those are really fast men playing wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Coverage was outstanding. We let a couple out and up, some wheel routes, get out. They're a phenomenal team. I thought we tackled pretty darn well once their receivers caught the ball and were loose. Those are quick, fast men."

Did you sense that you were going to be able to get to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger because of the ankle and how did you think he performed?

"He's a great quarterback. There is no doubt about it. He wasn't able to get out of the pocket like he usually does. I thought the pressure was good. We didn't really give him any lanes. We kept in our rush lanes. I thought we played within the framework of the defense. I thought [Defensive Coordinator] Vic [Fangio] called a great game. The pressure was steady. He's hard to bring down. That's a hard man to bring down. They took him down the middle and they were able to bring him down."

I understand what you're saying about the outage not affecting anything, but what did you use that time for? Were you talking with your coaches? Were you talking with the players? During the blackouts, what were you doing?

"A little bit of both of that. Talking to the guys."

During the decision to take the points off the board and to keep the drive going. Can you talk about that decision?

"Yeah, just wanted a touchdown in that situation. The three points still kept it a two-score game and by taking the points off and getting the touchdown, it made it a three-score game."

You mentioned the importance. Can you talk about the importance of the win? Beating a team like the Steelers, people kind of judge this as a barometer for how good the Niners are.

"The thing for us is to win the next one. That's the all important thing to do. That's the challenge. It's easier said than done, but that's where the pressure comes from. That's where the challenge is. I thought our guys rose to the occasion. Feel great about that. Now we turn to a short week and it's on to Seattle. Play on Saturday."

How about Aldon Smith? He's looked pretty dominant.

"He sure has. I'll tell you what, he had another great game tonight. We're all really happy for Aldon, the way he's contributed. The way he's played this game."

Do you have an updated on T Joe Staley?

"No, I don't have an update."

Why didn't WR Braylon Edwards play?

"We went with the three. Felt like [WR] Kyle [Williams], [WR] Ted [Ginn], and [WR Michael] Crab [Crabtree] gave us the best chance. Then we also wanted to use [WR] Brett [Swain] on special teams. Those are the four we dressed."

Given the caliber of the defense you played tonight, how important was it to see the offense pick it up in the red zone and produce the way it did?

"Feel good. Feel really good about it. The only way to beat the Steelers is to play good football. That is a really good football team and they are really well-coached. They've got men that have been playing in that system for a long time. They are a very confident team. They're used to a lot of success. You've got to play good football and I thought that's what we did. I am really pleased about that."

QB Alex Smith
Press Conference - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

So how big of a win was this on Monday night in front of this national audience?

"Yeah, big game. Probably the biggest game, I think home game here since I've been here. Two talented teams, Monday Night Football, a lot on the line. Both teams still playing for playoff spots and playoff indications at least, and a lot of respect on the line. So, hats off to them, but any time the defense gives up three points, they deserve all the credit."

It was sort of a collective team effort too, defense with the three turnovers, offense scoring the points.

"Yeah, playing good football. I think that's what we talked about, team football, playing good football. It's not about individuals stats, numbers, things like that. We talk about playing collective team football. Defense playing great, special teams putting us in good situations. Offense playing sound football, run and pass, taking care of the football, capitalizing when we get the opportunities."

How weird was it when the lights when out?

"Yeah, strange. Not something you ever obviously anticipate. And then to have them go out twice. The first time obviously in here wasn't nearly as bad. We're in the locker room, we can kind of just kind of hang out until the power was sorted out, and we went out and kind of re-warmed up. But then when you're sitting out there on the field and they go out and you don't know how long it's going to take. You just kind of deal with it."

They've got the best pass defense in the league, and you guys pretty much went at them, right?

"Yeah, no, we weren't shying away from anything. Wanted to be balanced though, no question. Felt like we did some good things in the pass game, left a little bit out there. Offensive line played great, no sacks all night. Anytime you're playing a front like that, as aggressive as they are, and you can walk out with no sacks, that's a great thing. So, they deserve a lot of credit as well. But, really good and really didn't throw much in the fourth quarter once we jumped up by the three scores, then we were just kind of running it out."

The no sacks thing, did you expect more heat maybe from them?

"Oh, they brought it. Yeah, they were bringing it. Yeah, I think the credit goes to the whole unit. We talked about it. Obviously the offensive line, it starts with them, but running backs are involved, tight ends are involved, receivers are involved as far as hot routes and things like that. So, guys did a great job all night, but it starts with the guys up front."

How beneficial do you think it was playing Arizona the week before, for you and the offensive line that you guys played against a similar scheme?

"Yeah, similar scheme. We played Arizona not only a few weeks before that at home. So, had seen it a couple times. Struggled with it last week on the road. Struggled with the pressure and picking up some of that stuff and I thought guys responded well. We worked on it all week and they didn't let us down, they were bringing it, especially early and guys responded well."

It looked like you were prepared for whatever they threw at you, were there some that did surprise you, were they throwing all kind of blitzes at you?

"They've got everything in the book. You could turn on the tape and go back as far as you want. They've got about every pressure there is. So, you kind of have to be ready for it all. And then the nice thing is they are very similar to our defense schematically. So, still got a little bit of that from camp and then obviously played them last week. And they threw a lot at us last week."

How much more satisfying is it for offense to come away with seven's instead of three's?

"Yeah, it changes the game. You'd love to come away with seven's all the time, but any time you can get a couple down there in a game like this it really changes the nature of the game. All of a sudden you put them in a hole, make them one dimensional, and help our defense out. So, you'd love to get one of those first two times down in the red zone, make one of those a seven and change the game as well."

What was the biggest difference from last week to this week?

"We just played better. We executed better. I don't think there's any one thing. It was all of us, all eleven playing better. And then the defense played great. They gave up three points tonight."

Do you think the home crowd made a little difference there?

"Yeah, no question. Anytime you play at home, for me, for an offense, it's a big difference. Yeah, you're on the road, you're dealing with crowd noise, things like that. Cadency, can't communicate as well. Come home and you have that luxury."

So, you're saying your defense played lights out?

"Yeah, no question, lights out, no pun intended. Played great, they gave up three points versus a team like that. That says a lot."

TE Vernon Davis
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

It's good to see you back in the passing game.

"It's good to be back in the passing game. A win is a win. It doesn't matter how we get it. As long as we can do it, I'm all about it."

When the lights went out, did it affect you guys?

"It didn't really affect us. It was annoying. We're sitting on the sidelines, getting cold and trying to keep warm and then we have to warm up all over again. That was pretty annoying."

How big was this win on Monday night?

"This one was big. It shows the world we're serious and we can play big games on the national stage. At the end of the day, we got the W over a great team that's been together for such a long time."

When you go into a game, do you know if you're going to be a big part of it?

"I know, but sometimes you get into a game and they start doubling you and really watching you and the plays just don't work. But tonight, we all played together and everything opened up."

You said the team proved something on a national stage. Who did you prove it to?

"Just everybody. We proved it to ourselves, to any doubters. We just proved everybody wrong - anybody who had doubt in us. If we can really get aggressive in the red zone, we'll be unstoppable. We've had some trouble getting into the end zone, but we managed to make it happen. But we can do a little more."

S Dashon Goldson
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

You guys had three interceptions and you guys shut them down in the passing game.

"Yeah we were pretty confident about what we have in the secondary. We did a good job coming out here and facing an explosive wide receiving corps and a great quarterback. We knew we had our work cut out and knew they were going to put the ball in the air. We did what we had to do today."

You guys have really come together as the season has gone a long. You really didn't know each other at the start, but you guys have really come together in the second half.

"Definitely, we love the game. We spent a lot of time together, like you said. Our meeting room is very active. We have a lot of guys that can handle the ball and want to make plays. Whenever you have a secondary like that, the sky is the limit for us. You just have to keep chugging every week."

What about the lights, did that affect you guys at all? I know those things went out, especially the second time?

"Not at all. I've never seen anything like that at all. It was kind of cool. It didn't affect us at all."

RB Frank Gore
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

How big was this win on Monday night in front of everybody?

"It was big, especially after everybody kept talking about how physical Pittsburgh was. We came out on offense, defense and special teams and did a great job against one of the league's physical teams."

What does this do for the team's confidence moving forward into the playoffs?

"We always have confidence, but winning against a good team such as Pittsburgh who always year-in-and-year-out is in the playoffs is big. It was a good win."

How did it affect you when the lights went out?

"We wanted to go, especially before the game. We were ready to get out there, but we had to sit for about 30-40 minutes. It was alright."

DT Ray McDonald
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

What do you think everybody is saying about tonight?

"We have to take it week by week and not worry about what everybody is saying."

Did you notice anything about QB Ben Roethlisberger that was different from what you might have anticipated?

"We thought he could move around as much as he usually can, but we stayed in our rush lane. We felt that we had a good game plan on hand and we executed."

Surprised that he was in there at the end?

"No, he wanted to fight until the end. I give him credit for that. That's why he's won two Super Bowls because he's a tough guy. We stayed after him and came away with the W today."

LB Aldon Smith
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

You took a couple of different ways to get to him [Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger]. You overpowered the tackle at one point, the other time you ducked inside, came up the middle and went low on him. Did you feel like they didn't know where you were coming from?

"I felt like they didn't know where anybody was coming from because everybody up front can rush. They had to worry about more than just one guy."

After getting a sack taken away from you, does it make you even more determined to come back and get one?

"Oh yeah. Once you have a sack taken away from you, you know that you got the sack, you know that you did the work to get it, you've just got to do it again and make it count."

Did you sense that Ben was not going to be mobile? Could you see it in the pregame warm-ups, did you know that you were going to be able to get to him?

"I really wasn't paying attention in pregame, but with the injury he had, it wasn't really too easy for him to come back the next week and be 100 percent. So it was definitely something we all had in mind."

How would you describe the vibe with this defense, especially when you put together a game like you did tonight without [LB] Patrick [Willis]?

"It's a pride thing. It's a mentality. It's just something that we live by; stop the run, stop the pass, play good defense. Having the type of personality and having pride about your job. Everybody else is proud about their job and they do their job right."

T Joe Staley
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Your thoughts coming into the locker room?

"I'm really proud of our offensive line today. We really answered the bell and played a great game."

Was it similar to what you have seen from the Ravens and Cardinals?

"No, Ravens are a little different defense. They kind of bring guys more on the outside, especially playing in that crowd, it's different. The Cardinals are a similar defense. We knew we were going to get the same kind of stuff. They were watching the same film and we really focused in. I think the main factor was the pregame work that everybody did across the whole offensive line."

What was it like here after the lights went out before the game?

"It was weird. I never experienced anything like that."

What did you do?

"I just chilled. Some guys stretched a little bit."

WR Kyle Williams
Post-Game Quotes - December 19, 2011
San Francisco 49ers vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

So was this an expanded role for you today?

"Yeah, I had to fill in for [WR] Ted [Ginn Jr.]. Whenever a guy goes down you have to be able to fill in. There are still opportunities out there to be had but we got it done as a whole team and everybody pitched in."

You had some third-down receptions that were working:

"Yeah. Anything that I can do, if it's third down or whatever, if I can pick that up for us that's huge. It keeps [QB] Alex [Smith] going and I'll continue being that safety valve for Alex if he needs it."

Overall, the fact that you won this game against the team you did, considering when you lost to the Ravens, does this feel good as far as being established nationally?

"We needed it for our own needs really because we're fighting for that bye and we couldn't' do without it really because we've got another team down in New Orleans that's coming. For us, we needed it. The fact that it was on national TV was a bonus for everybody else to see, but if this would have been a regular game we still needed it."

How was the blackout for everyone on the sideline?

"It was good because guys actually stayed focused. You would think that some guys would kind of lose focus and kind of take a step back but everybody was still turned up. Everybody was still ready to go."

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