The Pittsburgh Steelers’ “Immaculate Reception” Against Rival Oakland

Immaculate Reception pic

Immaculate Reception

Ryan Hoadley is an accomplished financial executive and hedge fund manager with Newbrook Capital Advisors in New York. In his free time, Ryan Hoadley supports a number of Pittsburgh sports teams, especially the Steelers.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were an elite team in the 1970s and are well remembered for one of the greatest plays in NFL history, known as the “Immaculate Reception.” The setting was the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff Game at Three Rivers Stadium, with the Steelers down 7-6 and 1:17 remaining against the rival Oakland Raiders. With Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler having just run 30 yards for a touchdown, the Steelers were on offense again, but with their backs against the wall.

The clock had run down to 22 seconds and Pittsburgh faced fourth and 10 on its own 40 yard line. With quarterback Terry Bradshaw under pressure, he threw the ball in the direction of Frenchy Fuqua, who collided with Raiders safety Jack Tatum as the ball arrived. Franco Harris somehow caught the ricocheting football and ran it a full 60 yards to the end zone.

The celebration in Pittsburgh that ensued, as the home team progressed to the Super Bowl, was always tinged with controversy. Some believed that the ball touched the turf before Harris caught it, while others claimed it bounced off of Fuqua, which would have ended the play under 1970s rules. Whatever the case, the ruling on the field stood, and to this day, Fuqua and Harris talk on the phone every year on the anniversary of the historic play.