STEELERS 43 – 49ERS 18
PITTSBURGH — Ben Roethlisberger threw for more than 300 yards and three touchdowns, and DeAngelo Williams ran for three scores to lead the Pittsburgh Steelers to a 43-18 win against the San Francisco 49ers Sunday at Heinz Field.
Roethlisberger’s top target was Antonio Brown, who tallied nine catches for 195 yards and one touchdown. Roethlisberger completed 21 of 27 passes for 369 yards and three touchdowns, while Williams ran 20 times for 77 yards and the three scores.
The Steelers had two nice passing plays during their opening drive, but too many penalties, including a 15-yard personal foul on a late hit by Cody Wallace, thwarted it. Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 28-yard connection to convert a third down. Markus Wheaton also had a 19-yard catch.
It was the 400th reception in Brown’s young career, the 74th straight game that he has had a catch. That puts him among the top four Steelers in career catches behind Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Hall-of-Famer John Stallworth. Ward finished with 1,000 career receptions.
The 49ers appeared to fumble away their opening possession, but a replay apparently confirmed the incomplete call on the field to force a punt. Still, it would have been nice for Will Gay’s forced fumble on Anquan Boldin and Will Allen’s recovery to stand near midfield. Instead, the punt put the Steelers at their 17-yard line. But that didn’t deter Roethlisberger.
On third-and-five from the 22, he found Darrius Heyward-Bey for 41 yards to the 37. Then, on second-and-four, he hit Brown for 17 to the 14. A defensive holding aided the drive and made it first-and-goal at the 9. After a seven-yard run to the 2 by DeAngelo Williams, Roethlisberger found Miller open for a touchdown. The Steelers went for two, and Brown caught the conversion pass.
The Niners responded with a massive 17-play drive that lasted 8:53, but the Steelers held them to a 47-yard field goal by ancient Phil Dawson. The Steelers aided the drive with two more offside penalties, McLendon’s second and James Harrison’s late in the drive kept it alive. But that doesn’t mean the defense didn’t do its job.
A holding penalty helped the unit, but Gay and Cam Heyward stopped catches behind the line for three and four yards in losses, respectively. Heyward also had a seven-yard sack after Harrison’s penalty to push Dawson’s field-goal attempt to the limit. It was a win for the defense, because the Niners got to a first-and-goal at the 10 before the holding call and defensive stops.
Roethlisberger to Brown was a lethal combination during the ensuing Steelers drive as well, as the two connected for a dazzling 59-yard catch-and-run on third-and-six that flipped the field. Brown spun around two defenders inside the 10 and nearly ran into the end zone, but he was forced out to the 2. DeAngelo Williams ran it in from there. An offside penalty by the 49ers allowed the Steelers to go for two, and Miller caught the conversion pass.
Ryan Shazier stopped the Niners next drive by dropping a running back three yards behind the line and then sacking Colin Kaepernick for a 17-yard loss. Brown returned the short punt 16 yards to the Steelers 35, and Roethlisberger needed just one play to find Heyward-Bey in the end zone for a touchdown. Josh Scobee’s long extra-point kick hit the right upright.
The Niners appeared ready to get on the scoreboard again after Kaepernick hit Smith for 18 yards, but running back Carlos Hyde dropped the handoff and Shazier recovered for a three-yard loss and Steelers ball at the 42. Williams (11 yards), Brown (12) and Miller (13) all caught passes from Roethlisberger to make it first-and-goal at the 5. Two Williams runs netted the touchdown, and Scobee nailed the extra point to make it 29-3 with 1:58 remaining in the half.
After trading possessions to open the second half, the Niners drove from their 17 to the Steelers 2 in 18 plays and about 10 minutes. But the Steelers had an amazing goal-line stand to keep the Niners at bay. Shazier, Lawrence Timmons and Heyward were critical players in the series. Timmons was in coverage on the fourth-down play where he took receiver Bruce Miller out of bounds in the end zone before he had possession.
Despite a blown coverage play where Kaepernick hit Davis for 43 yards to flip the field to the Steelers 26, the Steelers defense stiffened considerably and nearly had another goal-line stand. Mike Mitchell, Timmons and Bud Dupree, who recorded his second career sack, put the Niners at fourth-and-goal at the 14. That’s when Kaepernick found Boldin open at the side of the end zone for a touchdown. He dragged his feet to toe the sideline and cut the Steelers lead to 29-10 early in the fourth quarter.
The Steelers didn’t need long to regain their large lead, as Roethlisberger guided a six-play, 80-yard drive in 2:51. Williams ran for 16, and Wheaton caught a 48-yard pass to the 8 for first-and-goal. Two Williams runs netted the score, as he plowed in from the 1 to cap the drive.
The Niners drove 80 yards in just two plays with a 75-yard pass to Smith the key for the touchdown. With the two-point conversion, the Steelers lead was just 36-18. That changed quickly, as Brown caught a 56-yard pass to make it first-and-goal. A 10-yard run by Williams set up Brown for a seven-yard TD catch and a 43-18 advantage.
The Niners had one last gasp and drove into the red zone. Shazier had to leave the field with a right shoulder injury, so that opened things up a bit over the middle. Kaepernick ran it on fourth down, but he was down at the 1 to turn the ball over to the Steelers and Michael Vick with 2:35 remaining. He ran out the clock.