The Immaculate Reception Turns 50
Before their Super Bowl teams of the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers had never won a playoff game. But that all changed 50 years ago when one play transformed the fortunes of a franchise and a city.
The Steelers trailed the Oakland Raiders 7-to-6 in the fourth quarter of the 1972 divisional playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium. Facing a fourth-and-10 on their own 40-yard line with under 30 seconds left, quarterback Terry Bradshaw called a deep pass play to rookie receiver Barry Pearson. With Raiders defenders in pursuit, Bradshaw scrambled in the pocket and sailed a pass to fullback John “Frenchy” Fuqua at the Raiders’ 35-yard line. The pass deflected off Oakland’s Jack Tatum just as he collided with Fuqua, sending the ball backward towards the line of scrimmage. Steelers’ rookie running back Franco Harris snatched the ball just before it hit the ground and raced downfield to score the game-winning touchdown, giving the Steelers their first-ever playoff victory.
Today, 50 years later, the Immaculate Reception is considered the greatest play in NFL history and its legacy continues to grow. This holiday season, the Sports Museum will commemorate the Immaculate Reception’s golden anniversary with exhibitions, public programs, merchandise, and more.
The Sports Museum is the home of the Immaculate Reception year-round, featuring iconic artifacts such as Franco’s cleats, the Three Rivers Stadium field turf, and other objects from the play. This holiday season, the exhibition will feature new artifacts that examine Franco Harris’ life and career and never-before-seen archival material and photographs.