SAN FRANCISCO -- The aptly named Candlestick Park went dark twice Monday night, delaying the game by a total of 36 minutes.
The first occurred before the game, lasting about 30 minutes and delaying kickoff until almost 9 p.m. for an official delay of 20 minutes.
The second time, the lights went dark at 9:43 p.m. with 12:13 left in the second quarter. Shortly thereafter, linebacker James Harrison , serving a one-game suspension, wrote on Twitter: "If I cant play then can't nobody play ... Lights out!"
At 8:18 p.m., the lights went out for the first time, thrusting the ballpark into darkness. All lights throughout the stadium, including those in the press box and private boxes, went black.
A 49ers spokesperson announced in the press box that "backup generators are on their way." He said one of the transformers went down outside the stadium, that workers had to switch power over to auxiliary transformers.
Before the game, a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reporter noticed that many of the stadium lights were not on and that the field looked dark. A league executive asked the operations manager of the stadium and was told it was normal procedure, that the lights not on were used for the old "baseball configuration" when the San Francisco Giants shared Candlestick with the 49ers.
The field looked as if it were a badly lit high school stadium when the game began.
Then, the lights went out again, this time for 16 minutes. Play resumed around 10 p.m.
The game marked only the fourth time in the 42-season history of "Monday Night Football" that teams with 10 victories apiece and at least a .750 winning percentage have met.
San Francisco was involved in all the others, in 1987 vs. Chicago (both 10-2), in 1990 vs. the Giants (both 10-1) and in 1997 vs. Denver (49ers were 12-2 and Broncos 11-3).
The 49ers won all three previous games.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on his high left ankle sprain, and information he was able to glean from the team's medical people:
"I've tried to exhaust every question with these guys: Is it a matter of making it worse or just dealing with the pain? Obviously, you can make it worse. That's the point of the ankle brace, to try to prevent that if possible. I'm not going to go out there and worry about making it worse, I'm going to go out there and play if I can."
San Francisco kicker David Akers erased one of Jerry Rice 's San Francisco records when he kicked his second field goal of the game. That gave him 141 points. Rice held the previous one-season record with 138 points.
One thing no one expected to see as the game got started was a 100-yard rusher wearing black and gold. The Steelers had gone seven consecutive games without a 100-yard performance by a running back, and the 49ers had played 35 consecutive games without allowing an opponent to rush for 100 yards.
Braylon Edwards was not in the starting lineup for the 49ers and was replaced by Ted Ginn Jr. It just happened to be the one-year anniversary of the previous time the Steelers had allowed a 100-yard performance by an opposing receiver. That was Edwards, who got 100 against them as a member of the New York Jets.
The first Steelers first down of the game came on a 3-yard Roethlisberger pass to tight end Heath Miller , who made the 330th reception of his career, the most by a tight end in Steelers history. Elbie Nickel had 329. Coming into the game, Miller needed 95 receiving yards to pass Santonio Holmes for ninth place on the Steelers all-time receiving list.
So much for offensive line continuity. The Steelers started their eighth different combination in 14 games this season against the 49ers. With center Maurkice Pouncey out with a high-ankle sprain, right guard Doug Legursky moved to center and Trai Essex made his first start of the season at right guard. Essex, a seven-year veteran with 25 starts coming into this season, started at left tackle Oct. 2 against the Houston Texans.
Inactives for the Steelers were: Pouncey, wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders , cornerback Curtis Brown , linebacker Chris Carter , defensive end Al Woods and offensive tackle Jamon Meredith . Harrison missed the game because of his one-game suspension for hitting Cleveland Browns quarterback Colt McCoy Dec. 8 helmet-to-helmet. Harrison was replaced in the starting lineup by Jason Worilds , who started four of the previous five games at the other outside linebacker spot in place of injured LaMarr Woodley . Woodley started Monday night, his second in the past six games, but left in the third quarter because of his hamstring injury. In both starts, Woodley had to leave because of his injury. He also tried to go against Cincinnati and left after two series.
Inactives for the 49ers were: Edwards, linebacker Patrick Willis , cornerback Tramaine Brock , fullback Moran Norris , guard Mike Person , nose tackle Ian Williams and quarterback Scott Tolzien . Willis, an NFL defensive player of the year candidate, missed his second consecutive game because of a hamstring injury.
The Steelers had scored on their first possession in six of the past nine games, but Carlos Rogers ' interception of a Roethlisberger pass Monday night ended their first drive.
The Post-Gazette's Gene Collier and Ron Cook contributed to this report. For more on the Steelers, read the blog, Ed Bouchette on the Steelers at www.post-gazette.com/plus . Ed Bouchette: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @EdBouchette. First Published December 20, 2011 5:00 AM