Franco Harris’ ‘Immaculate Reception’ Ranked No. 1 Play In NFL History

Well, folks. It’s official. A Penn Stater made the greatest play in NFL history.

By a Penn Stater, we, of course, mean former Penn State football running back and Pittsburgh Steelers legend Franco Harris.

Harris’ “Immaculate Reception,” the unbelievable game-winning play from the 1972 AFC divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders, was ranked as the greatest play in NFL history this week.

The famous play occurred when Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a last-minute pass down the field in an effort to keep Pittsburgh’s hopes alive, as the team trailed 7-6 with fewer than two minutes remaining. The pass deflected off of an Oakland defender and miraculously landed in the hands of Harris, who returned the ball for a game-winning touchdown.

Harris’ legendary play gave Pittsburgh its first playoff win in franchise history. He went on to win four Super Bowls with the Steelers and was named Super Bowl IX MVP.

In addition to his storied NFL career, Harris also found success with the Nittany Lions. He totaled more than 2,000 yards and 24 rushing touchdowns with Penn State from 1969 to 1971 before being drafted No. 13 overall by the Steelers in 1972. Harris led the team in scoring in 1970.

The NFL is celebrating its 100th season by counting down the top 100 plays, games, characters, game changers, and teams in league history. Each list is compiled by a panel of more than 80 football experts chosen by the Associated Press and NFL Media.

You can check out the full listing of the NFL’s 100 greatest plays in this Twitter thread.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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