Monday, December 23, 2013

Immaculate Reception

On Dec. 13, 1972, one of the most exciting plays in NFL history happened between the Raiders and Steelers, the Immaculate Reception.

The Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the Oakland Raiders in an AFC divisional playoff game Dec. 23, 1972. The Steelers had won nine of their last 10 games. Oakland came in with a six-game winning streak.

With 22 seconds left in the game, the Steelers had a fourth-and-10 on their own 40-yard line down 7-6. Terry Bradshaw scrambled out of the pocket, was nearly sacked twice before letting a 30-yard pass fly to running back John Fuqua. The ball deflected off of defender Jack Tatum and Fuqua and was knocked towards the line of scrimmage about 15 yards. There, Franco Harris scooped up the ball and ran 40-yards to the end zone untouched.

The remarkable comeback was complete as the Steelers beat the Raiders 13-7.

Neither team played well and the Steelers actually had a 6-0 lead before Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler scampered for 30-yards in the fourth quarter for the only score for the Raiders. The seven-point total was the lowest of the season for Oakland.

Pittsburgh lost the AFC Championship to the Miami Dolphins a week later. The Dolphins went on to have the only undefeated season in modern football. Had the Raiders played Miami, the outcome might have been different for the Dolphins.

The New England Patriots would try to recreate the undefeated season with a longer, 16-game schedule in 2007. However, the Patriots would eventually lose to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
Since 2007 no team has come close to have an undefeated season, as no team has gone 16-0 into the playoffs.