Monday was a huge night for the San Francisco 49ers as they improved to 11-3 with a 20-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The victory kept them on pace with the New Orleans Saints, and with the tiebreaker edge the 49ers are in a good position for the final two weeks of the season.
As was the case during much of the game, much of the talk today will probably be about how Ben Roethlisberger tried to gut out the game but couldn't guide his team to victory. And yes, I can admit the 49ers were put into a great position by Roethlisberger's gutsy/stupid decision to play. I don't know if Charlie Batch would have been a better option, but you could argue to a certain extent that Ben Roethlisberger cost his team any shot at that game.
However, as much as the rest of the world will want to talk about Ben Roethlisberger, the 49ers made sure the Steelers QB knew they were around. He had stretches where he had way too much time to throw, but when the 49ers put Big Ben in a position where he had to throw, throw, throw, the pass rush was unable to release the proverbial hounds.
I am never one to advocate attempting to intentionally hurt somebody, but the 49ers had to make Roethlisberger know they were around. He was obviously limited in the game. I honestly did not think he would look as bad as he did, but I was wrong. He was throwing off his heel for much of the game and the 49ers did what they had to do to take advantage of the injury.
The 49ers showed no mercy and that is what a team needs to do. They struggled to get the offense going in the red zone early, but they put the boot down late on both sides of the ball. It took time to put the Steelers away for good, but the 49ers brought out the body bag and handled their business. People can make excuses for why the Steelers lost, but given where we are at in the 2011 NFL season, who really cares. The 49ers are 11-3 and in a position to claim the two seed. It would be nice to see them dominate on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes, but at this point, just get wins and get the bye.