Sept. 20, 2015 - San Francisco 49ers @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Steelers Steamroll 49ers 33-14 in a Come-From-Behind Victory
Trailing at the break, Steelers' defense shut out the 49ers in the sec-
ond half, allowing the "black and gold" offense to catch up and turn the
game around. Roethlisberger completed seven out of 10 pass attempts
for 90 yards and a touchdown, before an injury at the start of the second
quarter sent him to the locker room. Backup quarterback Michael Vick
showed a lot of heart as Big Ben's competent replacement, connecting
on 27 of 41 pass attempts for 332 yards.
With Le'Veon Bell still suspended, the Steelers' backup running back
DeAngelo Williams had a break-through performance, grinding out 91
yards on 17 carries and adding an impressive 103 receiving yards on
seven catches. Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown kept his hot
streak alive with 10 grabs for 139 yards and a touchdown. Tight end
Heath Miller also came up big with seven catches for 78 yards. Wide
receiver Markus Wheaton added seven receptions for 59 yards.
Torrey Smith led the 49ers receiving corps, catching seven passes
for 96 yards. Wide receiver Anquan Boldin and tight end Vernon Davis
caught four balls apiece for 65 and 44 yards, respectively. The 49ers
main running back Reggie Bush was out with an injury, so Carlos Hyde
took on the ball-carrying responsibilities. Hyde rushed for 26 yards on
just six touches.
12 The Greatest Football Team
Steelers safeties Will Allen and Mike Mitchell each picked off a
Kaepernick pass, and Mitchell returned his interception 75 yards for a
score. Pittsburgh's linebacker Lawrence Timmons combined with
Cameron Heyward for the only sack of the game. Cornerback Cortez
Allen and linebacker Bud Dupree led the team in tackles with six
apiece, and linebacker Jarvis Jones contributed five stops.
Safety Eric Reed led the 49ers in tackles with 11, linebacker Eli Har-
old made nine, while safety Antoine Bethea and linebacker NaVorro
Bowman contributed six stops each. Cornerback Tramaine Brock came
out of the game with five minutes remaining in the first half, and de-
fensive tackle Arik Armstead joined him in the locker room with eight
minutes left in the third quarter.
It’s the first home game of the season
The coin flipped Steelers' way, and they elected to defer. 49ers run-
ning back Jarryd Hayne returned Josh Scobee's opening kickoff 20
yards to the San Francisco 22-yard line. Following a surprisingly lop-
sided win against the highly favored Minnesota Vikings a week before,
the 49ers were full of confidence. In the opening possession, Kaeper-
nick hit the ground running for 11 yards and completed three out of
five pass attempts for another 67 yards. The four-minute drive was
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capped off by a superb 18-yard touchdown toss to Smith. Phil Daw-
son's kick was good, and the 49ers were quickly up 7-0.
Dawson's kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback, and
the ball came out to the Pittsburgh 20-yard line. The Steelers responded
immediately: Williams earned 18 rushing yards on four carries, and
Roethlisberger amassed a total of 66 aerial yards on four perfect com-
pletions, including a 9-yard touchdown strike to Brown. Scobee's kick
was good to tie the score at 7 midway through the first quarter.
Hayne returned Scobee's kickoff 20 yards to the San Francisco 22-
yard line. Kaepernick completed five out of six straight pass attempts
for 75 yards, but a clipping penalty was followed by a false start pen-
alty, subtracting 20 yards from the forward progress. Facing 4th-and-1
at the Pittsburgh 44-yard line, head coach Jim Tomsula elected to play
it safe and punt the ball away.
Smith catches a Kaepernick pass for 10 yards
Bradley Pinion's first punt of the day went into the Steelers end zone,
and the ball came out to the Pittsburgh 20-yard line. Williams rushed
for nine yards on two carries, and Roethlisberger completed three out
of five pass attempts for 28 yards. However, on the next pass attempt,
Big Ben was hit hard and left to the locker room for evaluation. Enter-
ing the game on 3rd-and-10, Vick immediately found Brown, but he
only gained six yards. The kicking unit took the field, and Scobee
14 The Greatest Football Team
missed a 49-yard field goal attempt. Making matters worse, Big Ben
did not return.
The 49ers had the ball back at their 39-yard line, but did not take
advantage of the good field position. After Hyde picked up five yards
on a draw play, the Steelers defense forced two incompletions.
Pinion punted the ball away 42 yards to Brown, who returned it
seven yards to the Pittsburgh 21-yard line. The Steelers decided to put
their trust in Vick's hands, who completed eight out of 10 pass attempts
for 90 yards (although penalties subtracted 20 yards from the drive).
The 49ers red-zone defense stopped the advance at their own 6-yard
line, where Scobee drilled a 23-yard field goal to put the Steelers ahead
10-7 with 3:31 left in the first half.
Vick proves himself a capable replacement for Big Ben
Hayne returned Scobee's kickoff 24 yards, giving San Francisco an
excellent field position at the 38-yard line. Kaepernick orchestrated a
terrific drive, connecting on five out of six pass attempts for 63 yards
and a touchdown throw to Smith. Dawson kicked the extra point, and
the 49ers leapfrogged the Steelers to retake the lead 14-10.
Dri Archer returned Dawson's kickoff 17 yards to the Pittsburgh 24-
yard line. Vick continued where he left off, completing three out of
four pass attempts for 33 yards and running the ball once for nine yards.
With seven seconds remaining on the clock, the ball was on the San
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Francisco 24-yard line, and Scobee went out to attempt a 41-yard field
goal. The kick was good, and the first half ended with Steelers surpris-
ingly trailing 49ers 14-13.
Wheaton catches an 11-yard pass from Vick
The second half opened with Dawson's kickoff being downed in the
end zone for a touchback. The Steelers started off hot, with Vick throw-
ing a completion to Miller for 18 yards and Williams getting around
the right edge for 10 yards. However, the 49ers defense applied the
brakes, and Pittsburgh failed to convert on 3rd-and-10.
Berry got too much power into his punt, and the ball bounced into
the end zone for a touchback. Hyde rushed for sevenyards, and Kaeper-
nick threw two passes for a total of 16 yards. However, three straight
incompletions later, it was fourth down, and the punting unit came onto
Pinion punted the ball away 48 yards to Brown, who returned it 10
yards to the Pittsburgh 19-yard line. Vick proceeded to light up the
49ers secondary, connecting on four out of seven pass attempts for 52
yards After defensive tackle Arik Armstead was carted off the gridiron,
it was 4th-and-2 with the ball on the San Francisco 27-yard line. The
kicking unit came onto the field, and Scobee split the uprights from 44
yards out. The Steelers jaunted ahead of the 49ers 16-14 with 7:33 re-
maining in the third quarter.
16 The Greatest Football Team
Brown makes a tough catch for 14 yards
Hayne returned Scobee's kickoff 25 yards to the San Francisco 33-
yard line. Hyde took the handoff and was pushed back one yard. On
2nd-and-11, disaster struck the 49ers when Kaepernick tried to throw
a pass to Davis, but Will Allen jumped the route and made an intercep-
The Steelers had the ball back with an excellent field position at the
San Francisco 37-yard line. Vick threw deep for Wheaton, and the con-
nection netted 27 yards. On 1st-and-goal at the San Francisco 10-yard
line, Williams plunged through the middle for two yards, then Vick
found Brown for seven more yards. However, on third down, 49ers
safety Antoine Bethea knocked down a Vick pass, and it was 4th-and-
1 at the 1-yard line. Coach Mike Tomlin elected to play conservatively
and called upon his kicker to attempt a field goal. Scobee lifted the ball
through the uprights from 18 yards out to increase Steelers' lead to 19-
14 with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
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Bethea prevents a touchdown by Miller
Hayne returned Scobee's kickoff six yards to the San Francisco 21-
yard line. Kaepernick moved the chains thanks to a 26-yard pass com-
pletion to Smith, but a false start penalty set the 49ers back five yards.
After they failed to convert a 3rd-and-10, the punting unit came onto
Pinion's punt travelled 49 yards into the end zone for a touchback,
and the ball come out to the Pittsburgh 20-yard line. At the start of the
fourth quarter, the Steelers were called for a delay of game, but a play
action roll-out resulted in Vick gaining 11 yards. After another penalty
(false start) made it 3rd-and-9, Vick connected with wide receiver
Darrius Heyward-Bey for 15 yards to keep the drive alive. Williams
contributed 18 yards on two rushes, and Vick's arm continued to per-
form above expectations with five completed passes on six attempts for
60 yards. The Steelers found themselves again at the San Francisco 1-
yard line, but this time Will Johnson took the handoff from Vick and
dove into the end zone. Scobee's kick put his team firmly ahead by two
The ensuing kickoff was downed in the end zone for a touchback.
Kaepernick found Davis for a 10-yard completion to move the sticks.
After an incomplete throw that was intended for Boldin, Kaepernick
was intercepted by safety Mike Mitchell, who got the jump on the ball
18 The Greatest Football Team
and turned it into a 25-yard return for another touchdown. Scobee's
kick added to Steelers' tally and put the game out of reach, 33-14.
Gay (22) knocks the ball out of Boldin’s hands
Hayne returned Scobee's kickoff 25 yards to the San Francisco 34-
yard line. The 49ers moved the chains on a 16-yard completion from
Kaepernick to Boldin, but their spirit was broken, and they couldn’t
convert a third down.
Pinion's 42-yard punt pinned the Steelers all the way back on their
6-yard line. Vick immediately completed two passes for a total of 24
yards to give the Steelers some breathing room. Then it was time to
chew down the clock, and the ball was given to Williams for six con-
secutive running plays that amassed 26 yards. After the two-minute
warning, the Steelers punting unit came onto the field.
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Williams rushes for 16 yards on Steeler’s last drive of the game
Berry lofted a 34-yard punt to Hayne, who returned it seven yards to
the San Francisco 11-yard line. With 1:39 remaining on the game
clock, the 49ers running back Carlos Hyde ran the ball twice for 10
yards, and the game was in the books. The final score: Steelers 33,
Pittsburgh Steelers in Review
• Pass Offense B+
• Run Offense A
• Pass Defense A-
• Run Defense A
• Special Teams B-
• Coaching B+
1. DeAngelo Williams
2. Michael Vick
3. Mike Mitchell