An 'Immaculate' moment

"I want one moment in time
When I'm more than I thought I could be
When all of my dreams are a heartbeat away
And the answers are all up to me
Give me one moment in time
When I'm racing with destiny
Then in that one moment of time
I will feel
I will feel eternity"
- One Moment in Time – Whitney Houston

Those words say it all.

One moment in time.

One moment that was all about destiny.

One moment that would change so much.

There have been millions of moments in NFL history, but only one moment was 'Immaculate.'

The 'Immaculate Reception.'

During the Fox Pre-Game Show for Super Bowl LIV, the 'Immaculate Reception' was announced as the winner of the Greatest Moment in NFL History, voted on by fans and a perfect way to wrap up the NFL's 100th season celebration.

"It is unbelievable how this play has stood the test of time," said Franco Harris. "I would probably look at it this way. That play symbolized the spirit of winning, of never giving up and the unexpected can happen at the most unexpected time. I mention to people that The Chief, Mr. Art Rooney Sr., got on the elevator thinking we lost and when he got off, he got off a winner.

"When I still watch the play, I still just shake my head and have no clue how all of this happened. It's just so many aspects of the play don't really make football sense. How did it all come together? How did it all finish the way it did? It's just hard to think about all of the pieces that had to come together and when you break each one of those pieces up, one little thing could have disrupted it all, but it all came together at that moment.

"This moment has continued to live on and take a life of its own."

When you hear 'Immaculate Reception,' your mind immediately goes back to that December day back in 1972. And let's face it, the vast majority who voted for it, didn't even see it happen in person, or even hear about it until years later when introduced to it through generations of Steelers' fans before them.

The iconic play happened at Three Rivers Stadium in an AFC Divisional Playoff Game vs. the Oakland Raiders. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler had run 30 yards for a touchdown that gave his team a 7-6 lead with just 1:17 to play. Soon afterward, quarterback Terry Bradshaw and the rest of the Steelers offense were facing an intimidating fourth-and-10 from the 40-yard line with just 22 seconds remaining.

Desperately searching for the team's first ever playoff win, it didn't look promising. But they never gave up. While under pressure, Bradshaw threw the ball in the direction of Frenchy Fuqua and as it arrived he collided with Raiders safety Jack Tatum, the ball ricocheted back and Franco Harris miraculously scooped it out of the air and took off running for a 60-yard touchdown reception that gave the Steelers the 13-7 win and a wild celebration ensued.

"One of the most exhilarating things to watch during that play is what happened after the play," said Harris. "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."

Through the passage of time the excitement of the play has remained and will always remain a moment nobody will ever forget, which is why it won out in a vote that had a moment from every team.

"When you look at all the moments we started with, they are all good moments, ones that mean so much to the fans," said Harris. "All of them are special moments to be enjoyed and to connect to for the next 100 years.

"This one is special in so many ways. Part of it is because of the prior history of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The prior fan reaction and feeling about the team. People always said the Steelers found a way to lose. I look at this play and we found a way to win. Even though we needed something immaculate to make it happen, we found a way to win. What made it special is that drive and feeling and attitude of finding a way to win has never left.

"When you look at what makes this so special, this started a string of playoff appearances and Super Bowl wins that never happened before in the NFL. Do we connect that to that first playoff win? I think we do. It gave a feeling to us players that we now are one of the best teams in the league. We went on to show we were the best team in the league.

"This play started our first step into what was to become an incredible run that continues today."

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