An Immaculate Reception monument has been unveiled in Pittsburgh, honoring one of the most iconic and unlikely plays in the history of the Pittsburgh Steelers and NFL.
The Immaculate Reception monument debuted on Saturday, on the eve of the 40th anniversary of the play, ESPN noted. The so-called Immaculate Reception took place during an AFC playoff game on December 23, 1972. The Pittsburgh Steelers were trailing the Oakland Raiders with little time remaining when Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw unloaded a pass intended for Frenchy Fuqua.
Instead, the ball ricocheted off of Fuqua — or Raiders defensive back Jack Tatum — and the Steelers’ Franco Harris was able to collect the ball just before it hit the turf, taking it in for the go-ahead touchdown with five seconds remaining.
The play would propel the Steelers to a run of four Super Bowl runs between 1972 and 1979.
Many Steelers faithful showed up for the unveiling of the Immaculate Reception monument, waiving yellow Terrible Towels and chanting, “Here we go, Steelers, here we go!”
“Isn’t this beautiful, guys?” Harris said to the crowd. “That play really represents our teams of the ’70s.”
The Immaculate Reception monument shows Harris bending down while running to catch the ball. It sits in a tent next to Heinz Field, on the same location where Harris made the catch inside what was then Three Rivers Stadium, the Chicago Tribune noted.
It was produced in Pittsburgh by Matthews International Architectural Products, the same firm that made a statue of Pittsburgh Pirates second baseman Bill Mazeroski’s famous World Series-winning home run in 1960 against the New York Yankees that sits at PNC Park in Pittsburgh.
The Immaculate Reception monument honors what still remains a disputed play. Oakland fans maintain that the ball first hit Fuqua, making it illegal for Harris to have caught it.