#1 Greatest Play & Game at Three Rivers Stadium
Pittsburgh - In the 31-year history of Three Rivers Stadium, the Steelers hosted seven AFC Championship games and won an impressive five conference championships on their home field.
While all seven were outstanding in their own right, the epic contest-and the one selected by Steelers fans as the greatest game in Three Rivers Stadium history as part of the Last Season at Three Rivers Celebration-was the 16-10 1975 AFC Championship Game victory against archrivals Oakland Raiders, played Jan. 4, 1976.
The greatest play in Three Rivers Stadium was also the greatest play in NFL history-the Immaculate Reception-Franco Harris' improbable catch off a ricocheted pass from Terry Bradshaw to John "Frenchy" Fuqua.
1975 AFC Championship
Pittsburgh 16, Oakland 10
Known as the "Ice Bowl," the game was played in extremely adverse weather conditions. Wind, snow flurries and 16-degree temperatures made the contest a brutally hard-hitting defensive struggle. Second-year middle linebacker Jack Lambert recovered three fumbles, including two in the fourth quarter that led to the Steelers' two touchdowns - a 25-yard run by Franco Harris and a 20-yard TD reception by John Stallworth. With the 16-10 win, the Steelers advanced to Super Bowl X, where they won their second consecutive NFL title.
The game was not decided until the final play, and the Steelers overcame eight turnovers, including a lost on-side kick, which gave the Raiders a final opportunity to win.
The Raiders defense set the tone early in the game and intercepted two passes in the first quarter. But, the Steelers' defense was unyielding, and the best the Raiders could produce from them was a missed 38-yard field-goal attempt.
The Steelers took advantage of the initial Raider turnover, the first of Mike Wagner's two interceptions and a 20-yard return, to get on the board with a field goal.
In the third quarter, the Steelers missed two field goal attempts in the third quarter, 44- and 48-yard tries, and the Raiders committed three turnovers to the Steelers' one.
Harris completed a 70-yard drive when he found the middle jammed and swung around his left side for 25 yards and the game's first TD on the second play of the final quarter.
Raiders' quarterback Ken Stabler responded with a 60-yard, six-pass drive to reduce the Steelers' lead to three again. Another Oakland fumble, which Jack Lambert grabbed for his third recovery of the game on the Oakland 25-yard line, set up the Steelers' final score.
While the Steelers were running out the clock, Harris fumbled and the Raiders quickly moved into position for a 41-yard field goal. The Steelers committed their third fumble in the last five minutes of the game on the ensuing onside kickoff but time ran out on the Raiders.
The 'Immaculate Reception'
No play in the history of the NFL changed the fortunes of a franchise more than a desperation pass play from Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw to John "Frenchy" Fuqua in an AFC Divisional Playoff game versus the Oakland Raiders Dec. 23, 1972.
In fact, the play, which bounced into the out-stretched hands of rookie running back Franco Harris who ran 42 yards for the game-winning touchdown, was not only voted the greatest play in Three Rivers Stadium, but as the greatest play in NFL history.
To set the scene: With the Steelers holding a precarious 6-0 lead in a defensive struggle and about five minutes remaining in the game, the Raiders manufactured an impressive scoring drive, marching 80 yards on 12 plays to claim a 7-6 lead. A scrambling Stabler, who nearly was caught in the backfield, raced untouched for a 30-yard TD with 1:13 left in the game for what appeared to be a game-winning score.
But, the Steelers rallied miraculously. Faced with a fourth-and-10 and down to their final play at their own 40-yard line, the Steelers produced what later became known as the "Immaculate Reception." Bradshaw threw a long pass downfield toward the Steelers' John "Frenchy" Fuqua. The ball ricocheted backward and Harris made an incredible shoe-top catch for the historical score.
The dispute on the game-winning play centered on whether the flight of the ball was altered by the contact of Oakland's Jack Tatum or the Steelers' John Fuqua.
Game Notes: The honorary game captains for today's Last Season Celebration are four of the Steelers Hall of Fame players: cornerback Mel Blount (1970-83), linebacker Jack Ham (1971-82), running back Franco Harris (1972-83) and linebacker Jack Lambert (1974-84)...Fans attending the game will receive a commemorative trading card of a Great Moment in Three Rivers Stadium and a matching pin, sponsored by Giant Eagle...At each seat, there will be a souvenir seat cushion, provided by Home Depot, with the Last Season at Three Rivers Stadium logo printed on it...Country music artist and Grammy Award-winner Hank Williams Jr. will perform the national anthem and a specially adapted version of "Are You Ready For Some Football?" that he sings to open Monday Night Football games...The Baldwin High School Marching Band, the first high school band at Three Rivers Stadium for a Steelers game, will perform during pregame activities.