Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers had a chance to take control of the AFC with a win over Frank Gore and the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football, but failed to get their offense on track and were defeated 20-3. As AP reported :

The 49ers rode their top-ranked run defense once again to beat ailing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers 20-3 on Monday night.

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 ran for a 5-yard score and David Akers kicked field goals of 22 and 38 yards to overtake Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for San Francisco’s single-season scoring record.

The Steelers (10-4) missed a key chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC North and gain the AFC’s No. 1 playoff seed.

“I think we showed the world we can play the game of football on a national stage,” Davis said. “At the end of the day that’s what it’s all about: respect.”

Roethlisberger, playing on a sprained left ankle that had Big Ben in a walking boot during the week, threw two early interceptions and another in the waning minutes.

Even all those Terrible Towel-waving Steelers supporters couldn’t will their team when San Francisco’s unique home-field advantage became two blackout delays.

San Francisco became the first team in NFL history to hold an opponent without a rushing touchdown through each of the first 14 games.

Roethlisberger still finished 25 for 44 for 330 yards, but was sacked three times. After his second pick, he fumed as he limped off the field and could be seen yelling into his chin strap.

The 49ers made a big statement in their most meaningful home game since their last trip to the playoffs in January 2003, when San Francisco came from behind to stun the New York Giants 39-38 in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

Monday night’s proceedings almost turned into a fiasco after two power outages at Candlestick Park threatened to cancel the game. As Cindy Boren explained :

So this is why they call it Candlestick Park.

The lights went out twice in the San Francisco stadium during the Monday night NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and 49ers. Although immediate fears among members of the ESPN crew broadcasting the game were centered on an earthquake, the cause was far more mundane. A transformer near the stadium exploded, plunging the joint into darkness just before kickoff and again early in the second quarter.

Pacific Gas & Electric said it wasn’t sure why the transformer blew, only that Candlestick was the only customer affected. “Right now, we’re actively investigating the cause,” PG&E spokesperson John King told the San Francisco Chronicle. “It could be a number of things, from customer-owned equipment to PG&E equipment … the cause is under investigation.”

The start of the game was delayed 20 minutes; the second quarter was interrupted for 17 and the 49ers management was not happy, although the team won, 20-3.

“There are more questions than answers,” 49ers spokesperson Steve Weakland said. “We have asked PG&E to assure us and the NFL that this will not reoccur. We will continue to update you as we learn more.”

Fans amused themselves during the outages, with one scampering onto the field during the second quarter. That prompted Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to crack: “Where’s James Harrison when you need him?” (Video here.)

Answer: serving a one-game suspension for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy, that’s where. He was present and accounted for on Twitter, though.

Instead of leading the AFC North going into the final two weeks of the season, the Steelers remain tied with the Ravens and will look to bounce back against the Rams. As AP reported :

The lights weren’t the only thing that went out in San Francisco.

The Pittsburgh Steelers saw their opportunity to take control of the AFC disappear in a 20-3 loss to the 49ers. Injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed for 330 yards but also threw three interceptions, and the Steelers were held without a touchdown for the first time in over two years.

Instead of moving a game ahead of AFC North rival Baltimore, the Steelers remain tied with two games to go. The Ravens hold the tiebreaker courtesy of sweeping the season series from the Steelers.

Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday his team simply didn’t play well enough to win. He added Roethlisberger came out of the game OK but running back Mewelde Moore sprained his knee and is out indefinitely.

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