The San Francisco 49ers were lights-out in their return to prime time, riding their top-ranked run defense again and prevailing through a pair of power outages to beat ailing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers, 20-3, on Monday night.
Vernon Davis caught a 1-yard touchdown pass for the 49ers (11-3) one play after setting himself up with a 21-yard reception from Alex Smith, Frank Gore ran for a 5-yard score and David Akers kicked field goals of 22 and 38 yards to overtake Hall of Famer Jerry Rice for San Francisco's single-season scoring record.
The Steelers (10-4) missed a key chance to take sole possession of first place in the AFC North and gain the AFC's No. 1 playoff seed.
Roethlisberger, playing on a sprained left ankle that had Big Ben in a walking boot during the week, threw two early interceptions and another in the waning minutes.
The game in Candlestick Park was marked by two power outages, first just before kickoff and again early in the second quarter after the stadium moved to a backup power source.
NFL security chief Jeff Miller said he witnessed a transformer blow up while he was monitoring a gate outside the stadium, where a shooting during the preseason already put a negative light on this venue.
The first outage pushed back the opening kickoff by 20 minutes. Thousands of flashbulbs went off in the midst of the blackness, with a sellout crowd of 69,732 sitting in darkness -- including all those Terrible Towel-waving Steelers fans who travel the country with their team.
The second delay came early in the second quarter and halted the game again between 10-3 playoff-bound teams for about 15 minutes. Miller and other NFL officials gathered in the press box to assess the situation, remaining in constant contact with the commissioner's office.
Miller said he remained confident the game could be finished even using an alternative power source because the problem appeared to be outside the stadium.
"They told us that we were on the second feed, so if that feed would have been somehow interrupted then we probably wouldn't have been able to get the lights back," Miller told The Associated Press.
"That's why we're operating in [the stadium] now. That's why we're playing, because we think that we'll be able to continue," he said before the conclusion of the game.
McCoy's status is uncertain
BEREA, Ohio -- Colt McCoy has improved from his concussion. However, his status for this week, the rest of the season -- and beyond -- remains blurred.
Browns coach Pat Shurmur said Monday that McCoy has not been medically cleared to practice or play. No decision has been made on who will start at quarterback Saturday when Cleveland visits the Baltimore Ravens.
McCoy suffered a concussion on Dec. 8 when he was blasted on an illegal helmet-to-face mask hit by Pittsburgh linebacker James Harrison, who was suspended for the Steelers' game in San Francisco as punishment for the devastating shot.
Seneca Wallace started in McCoy's place Sunday at Arizona, and the veteran backup had some nice moments while passing for 226 yards and a touchdown in the Browns' 20-17 overtime loss.
Shurmur said McCoy was "improving and getting better" but avoided any QB controversy -- for the moment -- by saying it's too early to know if McCoy will be healthy enough to practice or face the Ravens.
"I'm going to cross that bridge when they're both healthy," he said. "Right now, until Colt's healthy, we're going to go with Seneca."
Around the league
* Coach Lovie Smith was noncommittal Monday when asked who will be behind center when the Bears (7-7) try to stop a four-game losing streak that has all but wiped them out of the postseason picture.
* Another short week makes it more likely St. Louis Rams quarterback Sam Bradford will be out injured again. That would put Kellen Clemens in the starter's role on Saturday.
* The highly anticipated matchup between New England's Tom Brady and Denver's Tim Tebow helped draw the second-best preliminary television rating for a regular-season NFL game on CBS since the network acquired the AFC package in 1998.