SANTA CLARA Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers' offense were pinned deep in their territory throughout Monday's game. The man largely responsible for Pittsburgh's terrible field position was recognized by the NFL on Wednesday.
Punter Andy Lee was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Lee punted six times against the Steelers and had a gaudy 47.5-yard average.
The Steelers' best starting position following a Lee punt was their own 16-yard line, and their average starting position during the game was the 15-yard line.
Lee also had a strong game the previous week against Arizona return specialist Patrick Peterson. Still, when everything is taken into account the magnitude of Monday's game, the national stage Lee said the Steelers game was the better performance.
"It's definitely one of the top games I've ever had," he said.
Lee's punts are netting 44.1 yards per attempt this season, which is the best in the league by a yard. He also is one of three 49ers defensive lineman Justin Smith and linebacker Patrick Willis are the others leading Pro Bowl voting at their respective positions when the fan portion of the vote ended Monday.
Justin time Smith, who earlier this season ran down Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin and forced him to fumble to preserve a 49ers win, also has chased down Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh.
Two weeks ago, Suh was the NFC's leading vote getter for the Pro Bowl at defensive tackle. Suh, however, recently served a two-game suspension after a stomping incident against the Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving.
When the fan voting ended this week, Smith had 525,578 votes while Suh had 516,952.
Players and coaches will cast their votes this week.
"He's hustling all the time," defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Smith. "That play that he made against Philadelphia where he knocked the ball out that's not a one-time thing. He had one of those in the game the other night against Pittsburgh where he tackled the guy when the guy broke out. So that happens constantly and consistently with him."
Injuries Neither Willis (hamstring) nor wide receiver Ted Ginn (ankle) practiced Wednesday. Neither did special teams ace Blake Costanzo, although his absence was not injury-related. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards (knee) and fullback Bruce Miller (knee) were limited in practice.