In a bizarre power-outage filled Monday Night game, 2 playoff teams that focus on defense looked to make a point and one made a statement that the NFC might not just be Brees and Rodgers. I’m not sure if San Fran could shut down either team, but could they hold them to 20? Maybe, and if this offense can score 20 on Pittsburgh could it score more against the Packers or Saints D? It’s at least within the realm of possibility… Here’s what came out of last night fantasy-wise with a continuation of our clutch/not so much theme from the rest of our week 15 recap.
Clutch: The 49ers defense was definitely the star of this game as they limited the previously potent Steelers offense to just 3 points. Part of that was Big Ben’s lack of mobility and inability to step into his throws, but don’t take anything away from this defense. The fact that they have yet to give up a rushing TD this season is absolutely astounding… Frank Gore-Gore did all you could ask for against a tough Pittsburgh defense. He finished with 65 yards and a TD. He makes a decent option next week as the Niners head north to take on the Seahawks in Seattle…Vernon Davis-Davis had 72 yards on 6 catches and a TD. He was the #1 target of Alex Smith last night and should be a big part of the 9ers offense going forward.
Not so Much: Ben Roethlisberger-His toughness can’t be questioned; the wisdom of letting him play and leaving him in until the end can and should be evaluated. He didn’t look good and it showed the lack of faith the coaching staff has in Charlie Batch that they thought Ben at that speed was still better than Batch. He ended up throwing for 330 yards but had 3 costly interceptions and a fumble. He was harassed by a tenacious San Francisco line and was fortunate not to have further damage done…Rashard Mendenhall-Mendenhall could only manage 64 yards on the ground and failed to find the end zone yet again although he added 25 yards on 3 catches. He becomes the latest victim of the Niners #1 rushing D in the league.
San Francisco will continue to duel it out with New Orleans for the #2 seed and homefield when (presumably) the 2 meet in the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Steelers meanwhile are in the playoffs thanks to Sunday’s results, but failed to seize the AFC North lead from Baltimore. If they can catch the Ravens they could end up the #2 seed, if not they’ll have to go on the road (right now it would be to Denver) for their wild card weekend matchup. It’ll be fascinating to see what the next 2 weeks bring as teams continue to scramble for the playoffs.