San Francisco at Pittsburgh

Steelers nearly flawless, remain perfect in battle of unbeatens with 49ers

CBSSports.com wire reports
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PITTSBURGH -- There's been no spitting, no screaming at his players or jaw-to-jaw arguments with officials. No, Mike Tomlin is doing it much differently as the Pittsburgh Steelers coach than Bill Cowher did.

Except for their records: Just like Cowher during his first season in 1992, Tomlin is 3-0 to start his career.

Pittsburgh played nearly error-free for the third week in a row, with Allen Rossum returning a kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown and Willie Parker running for 133 yards in a defense-driven 37-16 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.

Now, Tomlin can only hope the rest of his career goes as well as his predecessor's.

"It's great to be 3-0," Tomlin said.

The Steelers shut down the 49ers the same way they did the Browns (34-7) and the Bills (26-3) the previous two weeks, allowing no big plays and holding star runner Frank Gore to 39 yards on 14 carries.

Just like their coach, these Steelers aren't flashy or overly talkative but have been focused and effective.

"This (team) steps in stadiums on Sunday to compete, to win and we don't worry about style points," Tomlin said. "I think we've been talking quite a bit about that: We can't worry about style points."

He prefers to talk about the few points they've allowed: The Steelers have outscored opponents 97-26, allowing only two meaningless touchdowns a year after they followed up a Super Bowl title with an 8-8 season.

"Even though we didn't have a great year last year, this isn't a losing program," guard Alan Faneca said. "It's a little different coaching transition than normal, when a team's probably had two, three or four bad years. But he (Tomlin) has put his own stamp on things."

One thing that hasn't changed: Getting Parker the ball.

Parker, coming off a 1,494-yard season, had his fourth consecutive 100-yard game and sixth in seven games dating to last season -- yardage the Steelers needed on a day Ben Roethlisberger threw only when necessary. Roethlisberger was 13-of-20 for 160 yards and a 9-yard touchdown to tight end Jerame Tuman, the third TD catch in as many games by a backup tight end.

"We did everything great," Parker said.

49ers quarterback Alex Smith (17-of-35, 209 yards) had plenty of chances to generate some scoring, but he couldn't get them into the end zone until hitting Taylor Jacobs for a 21-yard touchdown after Pittsburgh opened a 30-9 lead. Smith also threw his first interception, which Bryant McFadden returned 50 yards for a late touchdown. Pittsburgh's Najeh Davenport added a 39-yard TD run after that.

"That's our goal defensively, to smash that run and make a team one-dimensional," defensive end Brett Keisel said. "To shut him (Gore) down, we feel good about that."

Gore ran for 1,695 yards last season but has yet to have a 100-yard game this season. He missed one day of practice this week to attend his mother's funeral, and the game didn't help lift his spirits.

"I'm frustrated," Gore said. "Every week I know they will come out to stop me, but I just have to give that extra effort. I tried, but they played good defense. We just got to get better as an offense right now. We're struggling."

The 49ers, who had won their last three road games, had a chance early to grab early momentum. Smith quickly drove them to a first down at the Steelers 14 on their opening possession, but Gore was stopped for no gain and Smith threw two incompletions. That forced Joe Nedney's first of three field goals, a 32-yarder.

Rossum, picked up from Atlanta at Tomlin's urging during the final weekend of the preseason, needed 12 seconds to put Pittsburgh back into the lead with his kickoff return down the 49ers sideline. It was the Steelers' first kickoff return touchdown since Antwaan Randle El's 99-yarder against Cincinnati on Oct. 13, 2002.

"The first time we've been behind all year, and we come right back with a touchdown," Rossum said.

During an odd play in the third quarter, the 49ers successfully challenged a call that Vernon Davis fumbled on a tumbling catch inside the Steelers 10, but lost a potentially important completion. Referee Gerald Austin overturned the fumble, but ruled Davis didn't have possession before the ball came loose and called it an incompletion.

The call meant that instead of again being in position for a touchdown, the 49ers -- who have only four touchdowns in three games -- settled for another field goal.

49ers coach Mike Nolan was distressed by the call, though he wouldn't say it changed the direction of the game.

"He said it had to be clear that two feet are down," Nolan said. "I offered him my sunglasses, because the description ... well, that's what he said."

Davis, who complained to Nolan last week about not getting the ball enough, made four catches for 56 yards before leaving with a sprained right knee. He was to be re-examined when the team returned to San Francisco.

Notes

  • The 49ers were denied their first 3-0 start since 1998.
  • The 49ers lost in Pittsburgh for the first time since 1987, though it was only their third game since then.
  • San Francisco went 5-of-15 on third downs and is 11-of-40 for the season.
  • Pittsburgh extended its streak of not allowing a 100-yard runner to 27 games, dating to November 2005.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Special teams ace Allen Rossum points to the Steelers crowd after housing a kickoff for six.
 
Special teams ace Allen Rossum points to the Steelers crowd after housing a kickoff for six. (US Presswire)
 

 

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Sun. Sept. 23Final
603716
7732037
Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
FGJoe Nedney 32 Yd, 9:24. Drive: 11 plays, 61 yards in 5:36.
TDAllen Rossum, 98 Yd kick return (Jeff Reed kick is good), 9:12.
FGJoe Nedney 22 Yd, 3:01. Drive: 7 plays, 18 yards in 3:12.
2ND QUARTER
TDJerame Tuman, 9 Yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good), 0:37. Drive: 12 plays, 80 yards in 7:39.
3RD QUARTER
FGJeff Reed 36 Yd, 9:41. Drive: 11 plays, 62 yards in 5:19.
FGJoe Nedney 49 Yd, 4:46. Drive: 9 plays, 46 yards in 4:55.
4TH QUARTER
FGJeff Reed 49 Yd, 14:55. Drive: 9 plays, 50 yards in 4:51.
FGJeff Reed 35 Yd, 4:59. Drive: 11 plays, 63 yards in 5:40.
TDBryant McFadden, 50 Yd interception return (Jeff Reed kick is good), 4:01.
TDTaylor Jacobs, 21 Yd pass from Alex Smith (Joe Nedney kick is good), 2:22. Drive: 3 plays, 66 yards in 1:39.
TDNajeh Davenport, 39 Yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good), 1:51. Drive: 3 plays, 46 yards in 0:31.
Players of the Game

W. Parker
Rush 24
Yds 133
Avg 5.5
TD 0
Kansas City

A. Smith
Att 35
Comp 17
Yds 209
TD 1
 
San Francisco
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
A. Smith17/3520911
RushingATTYDSTDLG
F. Gore1439011
A. Smith332025
A. Battle1808
M. Robinson2807
Z. Keasey2403
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. Jackson469020
V. Davis456031
A. Battle227016
T. Jacobs226121
D. Walker319013
F. Gore21207
Pittsburgh
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
B. Roethlisberger13/2016010
RushingATTYDSTDLG
W. Parker24133023
N. Davenport547139
B. Roethlisberger118018
H. Ward1707
C. Batch1000
C. Wilson1000
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
H. Miller482029
S. Holmes349018
C. Davis39010
W. Parker1909
J. Tuman1919
H. Ward1202
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
TEN 31 Final
NO 14
DAL 34 Final
CHI 10
NYG 24 Final
WAS 17
CIN 21 Final
SEA 24
CLE 24 Final
OAK 26
JAC 23 Final
DEN 14
STL 3 Final
TB 24
DET 21 Final
PHI 56
MIA 28 Final
NYJ 31
BUF 7 Final
NE 38
MIN 10 Final
KC 13
IND 30 Final
HOU 24
SD 24 Final
GB 31
ARI 23 Final
BAL 26
CAR 27 Final
ATL 20