Immaculate: Franco Harris' TD catch voted greatest NFL play

1010 WINS Newsroom
September 20, 2019 - 10:06 pm

FILE - In this Dec. 23, 1972, file photo, Pittsburgh Steelers' Franco Harris (32) eludes a tackle by Oakland Raiders' Jimmy Warren as he runs 42-yards for a touchdown after catching a deflected pass during an AFC Divisional NFL football playoff game in Pittsburgh. Harris’ scoop of a deflected pass and subsequent run for the winning touchdown _ forever known as the “Immaculate Reception” _ has been voted the greatest play in NFL history. A nationwide panel of 68 media members chose the Immaculate Reception as the top play with 3,270 points and 39 first-place votes. (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck, File)

Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris' scoop of a deflected pass and subsequent run for the winning touchdown in a 1972 playoff victory against Oakland — forever known as the "Immaculate Reception" — has been voted the greatest play in NFL history.

A nationwide panel of 68 media members chose the Immaculate Reception as the top play with 3,270 points and 39 first-place votes. Second in the balloting was Dwight Clark's TD catch from Joe Montana that lifted San Francisco past Dallas to win the 1981 NFC championship.

With 22 seconds remaining in the first-round matchup, and the ball at the Steelers 40-yard line, quarterback scrambled under heavy pressure on fourth down. He heaved the ball downfield toward running back Frenchy Fuqua, and Raiders safety Jack "The Assassin" Tatum arrived at the same time. The ball ricocheted wildly toward Harris near the left sideline. Before it hit the turf, he bent deeply and grabbed it before heading to the end zone.

Game officials weren't sure who deflected the pass; had it gone off Fuqua, rules of the day would make it an incompletion. Referee Fred Swearingen, after consulting with NFL supervisor of officials Art McNally, ruled a touchdown. Pittsburgh kicked the extra point for a 13-7 lead with 5 seconds remaining and won a playoff game for the first time in franchise history.

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