2011 Season Recap, Week 15: 49ers Vs. Steelers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 19: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers fumbles the ball after being sacked by Aldon Smith #99 and Justin Smith #94 of the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on December 19, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Smith recovered the fumble for the 49ers. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

The 49ers (10-3) returned home after their third loss of the season to face the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers. Some things to note from this game were the suspension of James Harrison and ankle injury to Ben Roethlisberger - it's what most Steelers fans whined about after this one. However, most of them forgot that San Francisco's best defensive player, Patrick Willis, was still out due to a strained hamstring.

1st quarter

The Steelers received the opening kickoff with the Tony Montana Squad hoping around, vibing and pumping the crowd up.

Rashard Mendenhall took the handoff on the Steelers' first offensive play, but he was wrapped up by Ray McDonald for only a gain of 1. From the shotgun on 2nd and 9, Roethlisberger delivered a screen to Mendenhall who was stopped by Justin Smith just short of the first down. On 3rd and 1 with an empty backfield, Roethlisberger from the shotgun hit his tight end Heath Miller, just enough for a first down.

On first down, Mendenhall took the carry up the middle for maybe a yard. On second down, Roethlisberger hit Mike Wallace on the slant, who slipped a tackler, turned on the jets and took it down the right sideline for a gain of 36-yards before he was knocked out of bounds.

On 2nd and 7, Roethlisberger dropped back and threw to the end zone for Wallace - undercut by Carlos Rogers for his 6th interception of the year.

On 1st and 10, Frank Gore took the handoff up the middle for a gain of 4. On 2nd and 6, Smith hit Vernon Davis on the in-route for a first down, before he was taken down by Troy Polamalu. On first down, Smith sprinted right and threw to Michael Crabtree for a medium gain. On 2nd and 5, Ted Ginn Jr. took the jet sweep left for a first down.

On 2nd and 10, Gore took another handoff for a 5-yard gain. On 3rd and 5, with time, Smith from the shotgun hit Kyle Williams on the out-route past the first down marker for a fresh set of downs. On first down, Smith went right back to Williams for another completion on the out-route for a medium gain.

On 2nd and 4, Gore took a handoff for a first down before he was tackled by Polamalu. On 1st and 10, Gore took a handoff left, and with a great block by Bruce Miller, sprung free for 14-yards. In the red zone, Kendall Hunter was brought down after a short gain on 2nd down to put the 49ers in third and long.

On 3rd and 10, Smith made a big-time throw to Michael Crabtree who ran an out-pattern in front of Polamalu, and Smith put it on the money for the conversion. On 1st and goal, Gore was brought down for a loss of 2 inside the PIT-5. On 2nd and goal, Smith went through his progressions, and missed a wide open Kyle Williams who was coming on his route underneath the goal post.

Smith with pressure from a blitzing Polamalu, threw an incomplete pass on 3rd down to force the field goal attempt by David Akers. Akers came on and hit the field goal to take an early 3-0 lead.

On 2nd and 6, Wallace had Tarell Brown beat down the left sideline and Roethlisberger overthrew his receiver. On 3rd and 6, with pressure, Roethlisberger hit Antonio Brown on the crossing route who made Chris Culliver hesitate enough to take it for the first down.

Roethlisberger with all kinds of time threw to his tight end Miller past the first down marker, but it was too high, off the fingertips of Miller and into the hands of Dashon Goldson who secured the interception.

On 1st and 10, Crabtree made a catch that went just short of the first down marker.

B. Roethlisberger: 4/8, 53 yards and 2 interceptions

2nd quarter

On 2nd and 1, Bruce Miller took the handoff up the middle for a first down. On 1st and 10, Gore took a carry up the middle for a gain of 3. With pressure in his face on second down, Smith threw the football away. On 3rd and 10, Smith from the shotgun threw to Davis who stayed in bounds, and lunged for the first down.

On 1st and 10, Smith had Crabtree wide open in the end zone. Crabtree beat his man on the go-route and Smith overthrew him. On 3rd and 7, Smith threw incomplete to Gore in the flat.

BLOWN TRANSFORMER - SORRY FOR THE DELAY

On 1st and 10, Ray McDonald received an encroachment penalty. On 1st and 5, Roethlisberger checked it down to Mendenhall who danced for a first down and a little more before being taken down. On 3rd and 1, Roethlisberger from the shotgun stepped up and hit Miller in the middle for a first down.

On 1st and 10, a 6-yard run by Isaac Redman was negated by a holding call on Trey Essex. On 1st and 20, Roethlisberger completed to Jerricho Cotchery for a nice gain, but that was called back by an illegal formation call on Mike Wallace.

On 1st and 25, Aldon Smith stunted up the middle, spooked Roethlisberger who sidestepped and threw the ball away. On 2nd and 25, Aldon Smith with his long arms bull rushed Max Starks, forced Roethlisberger to move, Smith got rid of Starks and took down Roethlisberger for a sack - but an illegal contact call negated the play and gave the Steelers a fresh set of downs.

On 1st and 10, Roethlisberger completed to Wallace for 7 yards, before he was suplexed by Culliver. On 3rd and 2, Roethlisberger threw the underneath route to Wallace for a first down. On first down, with Justin Smith in his face, Roethlisberger put the ball at the feet of Mendenhall.

On 2nd and 10, Roethlisberger looking down field threw but the pass was somehow deflected by Larry Grant, with hang-time. On 3rd and 10, Roethlisberger went deep to the end zone to a double-covered Wallace, incomplete.

San Francisco would get the ball back with a 6-0 lead over the Steelers.

On 3rd and 8, Williams caught the pass from Smith on the hook-route and took it for a first down. On second down, Smith with no open scrambled through traffic for 10 yards and a first down. On 1st and 15, Smith completed down the right sideline to Ginn for a gain of 14. On 2nd and 1, Gore cut up the middle for a first down.

After a chop block penalty, on 2nd and 25, Gore took the handoff up the middle for a short gain. On 3rd and 21, Smith from the shotgun hit Williams for a medium gain on the crossing route. Andy Lee punted, and without much assistance, pinned the Steelers inside their own 5-yard line.

On 1st and 10, Mewelde Moore took a carry for a 20-yard gain. Roethlisberger then threw short to Antonio Brown for another big gainer and a fresh set of downs for Pittsburgh. On 1st and 10, Roethlisberger quick hit Wallace for a gain of 7 yards.

On 3rd and 3, Roethlisberger from the shotgun threw to Brown, who got just enough for a first down. With bad clock management and just out of field goal range, the Steelers were forced to throw a Hail Mary with 4 seconds left - complete to Brown, but tackled to end the half.

3rd quarter

On 2nd and 14, Gore took a stretch right for a medium gain, tackled by Polamalu. On third down, Smith put one at Crabtree's feet who was open on his route.

On 2nd and 11, Roethlisberger fired across the middle incomplete to Brown in coverage. On 3rd and 11, Roethlisberger from the shotgun fired to Wallace; Tarell Brown cleanly broke on the ball, getting his hand in there to break up the pass.

The 49ers went three-and-out on the following series for the second time in a row.

On 1st and 10, Roethlisberger hit Miller on the wheel route downfield for a big gain to midfield. On 2nd and 10, Roethlisberger hit Miller at the first down marker, tackled by Whitner. On first down, a Steelers false start backed them up 5.

On 1st and 15, Mendenhall took an inside run, bouncing off tacklers for a gain of 9. Mendenhall got hit seriously hard on second down by both Larry Grant and Justin Smith. On 4th and 2, Shaun Suisham came out to attempt a 51-yarder - hitting it to make it a 6-3 game with 6 minutes left in the 3rd quarter.

On 1st and 10, Smith threw one over the shoulder of Vernon Davis who beat James Farrior across the field for a 20+ yard gain. On 2nd and 11, Hunter took a short pass off the screen for a 27-yard gain into Steelers territory. On 1st and 10, Smith play-faked right, and threw back across to Davis, with a perfectly placed ball for the tight end who took it inside the 1-yard line.

On 1st and goal, Smith on play-action lobbed one over the top of the defense to Davis who beat the coverage on the delay for a 49ers touchdown.

The extra point by Akers made it 13-3, 49ers on top.

On first down, Roethlisberger completed short to Brown for a gain of 4. On 2nd and 6, Mendenhall looked cooked in the backfield but escaped left and went for a first down. On 1st and 10, Roethlisberger hit Cotchery on the wheel route for a big gain down the right sideline into 49ers territory.

On 2nd and 10, Grant broke up his third pass of the game. On third and long, Roethlisberger from the shotgun was pressured by Aldon Smith, forcing an incomplete pass down the middle of the field. Suisham's 48-yard attempt went wide left, no good and the 49ers took over with great field position.

On 2nd and 15, Gore took a handoff right for a 12-yard gain to put the 49ers in third and manageable.

4th quarter

On 3rd and 3, the run by Gore gets stuffed by Larry Foote and the 49ers have to punt.

On 2nd and 10, a short pass to Mendenhall gets stopped by Goldson. On 3rd and 10, Roethlisberger his Cotchery downfield for the first down, who was drilled by Whitner. On 2nd and 9, Roethlisberger from the shotgun gets picked up and dropped by Aldon Smith; accompanied by Ray McDonald and Justin Smith. During the sack, McDonald knocked the ball loose and it was recovered by Justin Smith.

On a 49ers third and long, Smith threw short to Brett Swain who took it just short of the first down to make it a more manageable field goal attempt for Akers. Akers came on and booted a field goal to make the score 16-3, but a leaping penalty on Lawrence Timmons gave the 49ers an automatic first down and took the field goal off the board.

The 49ers ran a sprint right option, incomplete in the red zone. On 2nd and goal, Gore got the carry, found a hole and punched it in for the touchdown, untouched. The touchdown by Gore made it 20-3 San Francisco. On 2nd and 3, Aldon Smith stunted and wrapped up Roethlisberger for another sack. On 3rd and 8 from the shotgun, Roethlisberger threw incomplete, out of bounds over the head of Antonio Brown.

With just over 7 minutes left in the game, Gore was on the sideline with a jacket on, done for the night. With Anthony Dixon in, the 49ers went with the ground game to run some clock. On 3rd and 7, Hunter got the handoff for a short gain.

On first down, Roethlisberger from the shotgun delivered to Brown for a first, but it was called back due to a chop block on Isaac Redman. On 1st and 17, Wallace made the catch for a gain of 13 yards on the pitch and catch.

Aldon Smith stunted up the middle and wrapped up Roethlisberger, throwing him down for another sack. The takedown was his 13th sack of the year which was the most for a rookie in 49ers franchise history. On 1st and 10, Roethlisberger connected with Miller in the middle who took it up for a 24-yard gain and a first down.

On 2nd and 10, Roethlisberger went deep to the end zone to Wallace but Tarell Brown read it the whole way, and leapt in front of it for the interception. The T. Brown pick was the Steelers fourth turnover of the day - San Francisco with 0.

Dixon took two consecutive carries on 1st and 2nd down to run clock. Dixon took a third carry on third down, that went just short of the first down marker.

On 1st and 10, Cotchery made a catch for 9 yards, shy of the first down. On 3rd and 1, Roethlisberger lost a bad snap, and recovered before being touched up by McDonald.

The 49ers came out in the victory formation and San Francisco improved to 11-3, keeping up with the Green Bay Packers with crucial playoff implications at stake.

Follow me on Twitter: @DeSimone80

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