MIAMI (KDKA) — A play that has lived in the hearts and minds of Steelers fans forever now is known as the greatest moment in NFL history.
The Immaculate Reception.
As voted on by fans, Franco Harris’ miraculous catch in December 1972 at Three Rivers Stadium against the Oakland Raiders was named the moment that defined the league’s 100-year history.
The announcement was made during Fox’s pregame show for Super Bowl LIV.
“It is unbelievable how this play has stood the test of time,” Harris said to Steelers.com. “I probably would look at it this way; the play symbolized the spirit of winning, of never giving up and the unexpected can happen at the most unexpected time.”
With the Steelers taking on the Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff round, the Steelers had never won a playoff game in their history up to that point. The Steelers trailed the Raiders 7-6 with 1:17 to play in the game. Moments later, with 22 seconds left, the Steelers offense was on the 40-yard-line, facing a fourth-and-10.
Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw dropped back and attempted a pass to Frenchy Fuqua.
It appeared to be broken up and the Steelers would continue searching for the franchise’s first playoff victory.
Not so fast.
The ball ricocheted off of a helmet right to Franco Harris.
From there, the rest is history.
Harris ran the ball to the end zone for a 60-yard touchdown, giving the Steelers a 13-7 win over the Raiders.
“One of the most exhilarating things to watch during that play is what happened after the play,” Harris recalled in his interview with Steelers.com. “When you see the fans reaction and how they jump on the field, hugging players, players hugging fans. That is a great visual and a great feeling to see that moment. It was like the whole stadium, that eruption and that feeling that everybody had on that field. You can see it and you can feel it through the film, how special it was.”
The Steelers ultimately went on to lose to the Miami Dolphins 21-17 in the AFC Championship, but it began an era in Steelers history that, like the Immaculate Reception, will live forever.