Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger not only started against the 49ers, but played the entire game despite a high ankle sprain suffered against the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 8.
"He is a competitor and I am not going to deny guys those opportunities," said Coach Mike Tomlin. "I think his teammates definitely have an appreciation for that. I think that is how we are built."
Tomlin said he did not consider taking Roethlisberger out of the game at any point because of his injury.
"He and I had been in that situation before," said Tomlin. "I know what kind of competitor he is. I wanted to support him in that.
"There were some points where I wish we would have performed better. But no issues in terms of considering pulling him at any juncture of the game based on health."
He was limited in practice all week, getting his most extensive work on Saturday but not going full tilt then, leaving some to wonder if the lack of practice had any impact on his play.
"I'm sure you can have a position on both sides of that matter," said Tomlin. "We don't live in our fears, we live in our hopes. We made a decision that we were going to give that guy an opportunity to play and we don't second guess that regardless of outcome. We understand that we open ourselves up for judgment, particularly when we lose. But such is life in the National Football League when you compete in the manner in which we do. We will do it without shame. We won't apologize for it. It was a losing performance by us. We accept responsibility for it."
Roethlisberger finished the game completing 25 of 44 passes for 330 yards with three interceptions and no touchdowns for a 52.3 quarterback rating.
The Steelers were penalized nine times for 72 yards against the 49ers, including a few that had an impact on the game.
Linebacker Lawrence Timmons was penalized for leaping on a David Akers 28-yard field goal attempt in the fourth quarter. The penalty gave the 49ers a first down at the five-yard line and they turned it into a touchdown for a 20-3 lead.
Tomlin was asked if he got an explanation from the officials on the call.
"I didn't get one that I was satisfied with," said Tomlin."That was a big question mark for me, but definitely not the reason we lost the game."
Another call that Tomlin wasn't sure on was when cornerback Keenan Lewis was called for interference with the opportunity to catch a punt in the third quarter. Lewis, who appeared to be blocked into the 49ers returner, recovered the loose ball but the play was negated by the penalty.
"Another one that was questionable in my eyes, but again not a reason that we lost the game," said Tomlin. "Our performance was.
"I am not going to complain about the officiating or the penalties. You guys can do so. We lost that game because we didn't execute well enough to win it."