49ers 16

(2-1, 1-1 away)

Steelers 37

(3-0, 2-0 home)

Coverage: FOX

1:00 PM ET, September 23, 2007

Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA 

1 2 3 4 T
SF 6 0 3 716
PIT 7 7 3 2037

Top Performers

Passing: A. Smith (SF) - 209 YDS, 1 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: W. Parker (PIT) - 24 CAR, 133 YDS

Receiving: H. Miller (PIT) - 4 REC, 82 YDS

Rossum's return TD, Parker's ground game lift Steelers

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- 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.

Perfect Ending?

The Steelers started 3-0 for the sixth time in their storied history by beating the 49ers on Sunday. A look at how those teams finished:

Year Start Finish
1978* 7-0 14-2
1979* 4-0 12-4
1973 4-0 10-4
1992 3-0 11-5
1982 3-0 6-3
2007 3-0 ??
* -- Won Super Bowl

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 [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.

Scouts Buzz
The Steelers' defense was stifling and followed its game plan to a T. Running room for Frank Gore was nonexistent. Pittsburgh's defensive line controlled the line of scrimmage with their two-gapping technique and ate space for the linebackers to attack the running game downhill. This forced the pressure onto 49ers QB Alex Smith's shoulders and he was unable to put the offense on his back. He showed flashes of potency and utilized his tight end well on occasion, but there were far too many instances where he held the ball too long, looked nervous and didn't step into his throws as he should.
-- Matt Williamson, Scouts Inc.
Complete Week 3 Scouts Buzz

"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.

Game 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 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

1st Downs1719
Passing 1st downs
Rushing 1st downs
1st downs from penalties
3rd down efficiency
4th down efficiency
Total Plays5955
Total Yards289350
Yards per play4.96.4
Total Drives1310
Yards per pass
Interceptions thrown
Sacks-Yards Lost
Rushing Attempts
Yards per rush
Red Zone (Made-Att)0-21-3
Fumbles lost
Interceptions thrown
Defensive / Special Teams TDs02

Passing Leaders


Rushing Leaders


Receiving Leaders


Scoring Summary

sfFG9:27Joe Nedney 32 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 61 yds, 5:36
pitTD9:24Allen Rossum, 98 yd kickoff return (Jeff Reed kick is good)
Drive info: 1 plays, 98 yds, 0:00
sfFG3:04Joe Nedney 22 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 7 plays, 18 yds, 3:12
pitTD0:42Jerame Tuman, 9 yd pass from Ben Roethlisberger (Jeff Reed kick is good)
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yds, 7:39
pitFG9:45Jeff Reed 36 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 62 yds, 5:19
sfFG5:08Joe Nedney 49 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 46 yds, 4:55
pitFG15:00Jeff Reed 49 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 9 plays, 50 yds, 4:51
pitFG5:03Jeff Reed 35 yd Field Goal
Drive info: 11 plays, 63 yds, 5:40
pitTD4:15Bryant McFadden, 50 yd interception return (Jeff Reed kick is good)
Drive info: 4 plays, 21 yds, 0:58
sfTD2:30Taylor Jacobs, 21 yd pass from Alex Smith (Joe Nedney kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 66 yds, 1:39
pitTD2:00Najeh Davenport, 39 yd run (Jeff Reed kick is good)
Drive info: 3 plays, 46 yds, 0:31