49ers beat Steelers, control their bye-week destiny

Dec 19, 2011 at 9:26 PM--


On a night when they could not keep the Candlestick Park lights on, the San Francisco 49ers defense played lights-out football. San Francisco improved to an 11-3 record with their 20-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers fall to 10-4 with the loss.

San Francisco is now in control of their playoff destiny. Should they win out, with their two final games on the road against the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams, they would at least earn the second seed in the NFC and get a bye-week. The 49ers hold the tie-breaker against the New Orleans Saints, who have the same record as San Francisco. The only team with a better record than San Francisco are the Green Bay Packers, who are 13-1. While it is still statistically possible for the 49ers to win home field advantage in the playoffs, Green Bay would need to lose their final two home games.

The 49ers were without linebacker Patrick Willis and receiver Braylon Edwards while the Steelers were without linebacker James Harrison and played with an injured quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

49ers quarterback Alex Smith was 18 of 31 for 187 yards and a touchdown while running back Frank Gore rushed for 65 yards and a touchdown. Kicker Davis Akers broke the all-time 49ers team scoring record, previously held by Jerry Rice, who was in attendance at the game.

According to ESPN, rookie linebacker Aldon Smith broke the all-time rookie sack record with his 13th sack of the season.

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

Should the 49ers win out, a bye-week means that the team would not play their first playoff game, a home game in San Francisco, until the weekend of January 14.

Monday night's game was delayed twice by two power outages that left Candlestick Park in the dark. The first took place right before the start of the game and the second took place with 12:13 left in the second quarter.

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