Brown went off in a big way, grabbing nine passes for 195 yards and one touchdown, shredding the 49ers secondary for several big plays down the field. He was just one of several Steelers to post big numbers on a day where nothing San Francisco could do defensively seemed to slow down Pittsburgh’s attack.
Ben Roethlisberger capped the Steelers second drive of the day with a two-yard touchdown pass to Heath Miller near the end of the first quarter. The key play on the possession was a 41-yard strike down the field to Darrius Heyward-Bey on 3rd-and-five, setting up the eventual flip to Miller. The Steelers made the surprising decision to go for two, which paid off when Roethlisberger connected with Brown again for an easy conversion.
The 49ers responded with a 17-play, 58-yard drive that consumed 8:53, but Cameron Heyward forced San Francisco to settle for a Phil Dawson field goal when he sacked Colin Kaepernick on 3rd-and-22 from the Pittsburgh 22-yard line. Dawson’s 47-yard boot made it 7-3, but not for very long.
Roethlisberger quickly marched the Steelers down the field thanks to a 59-yard bomb to Brown that set up DeAngelo Williams to bust into the end zone from two yards out on the next snap. The big throw from Roethlisberger to Brown again came on third down, part of a 6-10 team performance on third down throughout the day. The Steelers again elected to go for two, and Roethlisberger hit a wide open Miller on the goal line to convert.
Ryan Shazier ruined San Francisco on the 49ers next drive, dropping Carlos Hyde for a one-yard loss on 2nd-and-6, before sacking Kaepernick for a 17-yard loss on third down. Shazier was unblockable on the day, notching 15 tackles, one sack, a fumble recovery, and a forced fumble. After the 49ers punt, Roethlisberger connected with Heyward-Bey on a beautiful play-action pass from 35 yards out, and Pittsburgh never looked back.
Hyde fumbled on the third play of San Francisco’s next drive, and Shazier was right there to recover the mishap at the 49ers 42. Roethlisberger hit Williams, Brown, and Miller for big gains on the ensuing drive, before Williams punched in his second score of the day from two yards out. Josh Scobee atoned for an extra point miss on the Steelers previous score, by knocking one just inside the upright to make it 29-3 at halftime.
Neither team could get on the board in the third quarter, as the Lawrence Timmons helped knock loose a completion from Kaepernick to Bruce Miller in the end zone on 4th down to give the ball back to the Steelers offense with 2:42 left in the period. The Niners had mounted an 18-play, 82-yard drive only to come up empty, one of several fine stops by the defense with their backs against the wall.
The Niners made it 29-10 when Anquan Boldin toe-tapped in a 4th-and-14 grab with just over 13 minutes left in the game. Pittsburgh went right back down the field when Roethlisberger hit Markus Wheaton for 48 yards, setting up Williams’ third rushing touchdown of the game.
Kaepernick finally found the soft spot in Pittsburgh’s defense as Torrey Smith ran away from Will Allen for a 75-yard touchdown, before hitting the receiver on a fade over Antwon Blake for two to cut the Steelers lead to 36-18.
The 49ers couldn’t stop Brown however, as the speedy receiver raced by Tramaine Brock for a 56-yard catch to the San Francisco 17. Two plays later Roethlisberger connected with Brown in the back of the end zone for the quarterback’s third touchdown pass of the game, settling the scoring at 43-18.
Roethlisberger was lights out on the day, finishing 21/27 for 369 yards and three scores, while Heyward-Bey grabbed four passes for 77 yards. Williams rushed 20 times for 77 yards and three scores, capping off a brilliant two games for the former Carolina Panther starting in Le’Veon Bell’s absence. Bell will rejoin the team this week, as the Steelers ready for their Week 3 matchup against the St. Louis Rams next Sunday at 1 p.m.