SAN FRANCISCO -- A pair of power outages struck Candlestick Park Monday night, causing delays for the 49ers and Steelers in their high-profile, nationally televised game.
The first snafu occurred 20 minutes before the scheduled 5:40 p.m. kickoff; the second hit at approximately 6:42 p.m. local time. In each case the stadium was thrown into total darkness.
According to Pacific Gas & Electric spokesperson Joe Molica, the stadium was the only customer in the area that lost power. He said the cause of the breakdowns was unknown. Later, the 49ers speculated that "offsite transformer problems" may have been the cause.
San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh, asked after the 20-3 win about the scene in the locker room at the time of the first power failure, deadpanned "it was dark," prompting laughter from members of the media.
Following the pregame failure, the stadium returned to darkness with 12:13 remaining in the second quarter and the 49ers holding a 6-0 lead on a pair of David Akers field goals -- each following interceptions of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger.
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During the delay, suspended Steelers linebacker James Harrison published the following message on his Twitter account of @jharrison9292:
"If I cant play then can't nobody play... Lights out!"
San Francisco team president Jed York published this tweet:
"Electric atmosphere tonight."
Players for both teams remained on the field and active, attempting to stay loose. The game resumed at approximately 6:59 p.m. During the delay, a fan ran on the field before being gang-tackled by security.
The initial power outage happened prior to the start of the highly anticipated inter-conference game and resulted in a 20-minute delay of kickoff. Power was cut at 5:19 p.m. and restored at 5:28.
Game announcer Mike Tirico termed it "an embarrassing night for the 49ers and the city of San Francisco" after the second occurrence.
The 49ers issued this statement late in the first quarter:
We have all resources working to find out what happened. As more information becomes available, we will issue an update. The game was delayed for 20 minutes, starting at 6 p.m. PT.
The team issued another statement at 7:51 p.m.:Right now, we believe the power outage occurred because of a blown transformer. We have all our available personnel working to confirm that. There are more questions than answers; we have asked PG & E to assure us and the NFL that this will not reoccur. We will continue to update you as we learn more.
Both teams were off the field for the first failure, in the locker rooms at the south end of the stadium. Through it all, a color guard stationed on the field as part of the National Anthem remained unflinchingly in place near the 50-yard-line.
Emergency lights brought back some visibility before power to the stadium was fully restored.
It's not the first time that Monday Night Football has dealt with delays due to power, nor the first time the Steelers were involved.
Other recent instances were last season in Week 1 (Ravens vs. Jets) with power failure as the culprit and Week 5 in 2010 (Vikings vs. Jets), due to lightning.
In 2007 the Week 12 contest between the Dolphins and Steelers was interrupted by lightning.
The most memorable interruption of a game at the venerable stadium came in October 1989, when the Lome Prieta earthquake struck moments before Game 3 of the World Series between the San Francisco Giants and Oakland A's.
That led to a 10-day interruption of the Fall Classic, in part to allow engineers to check the stadium's overall structural integrity.
Candlestick Park opened in 1960. The 49ers have played there since 1971.