Fifty Years Later: A Raiders Oral History of the Immaculate Reception
December 23, 1972.
On a 42-degree day in Three Rivers Stadium, a defensive slugfest between the John Madden-led Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers was underway. The winner would move one step closer to the Super Bowl, while the loser would go home empty-handed.
Up 7-6 after quarterback Ken Stabler ran 30 yards for the Raiders' only score of the day, the Silver and Black had the Steelers facing a fourth-and-10 at the Pittsburgh 40-yard line with 22 seconds left.
What happened next has become one of the most controversial and well-known plays in NFL history.
Raiders.com went through the Silver and Black's extensive library of sound and story to bring to life the Raiders' perspective of the Immaculate Reception, through the eyes of those who lived it.
"IT WAS JUST NUTS"
Mike Siani, Raiders wide receiver: "I can remember John [Madden] getting the offense together, and saying, 'OK, there's 18 seconds left. They got one more play. We're gonna get in there, and we're gonna take a knee and we're gonna get the hell out of here.'"
Franco Harris, Steelers running back: "Their defense is playing great so I'm thinking they're pretty good with the amount of time left in the game and the way their defense is playing. … Little do we know that it comes down to fourth down."
Fred Biletnikoff, Raiders wide receiver: "In that game, you're not expecting to go blow people out. It's gonna be a grind. It's gonna be a tough battle. And that's what it was. We came down, we battled all the way and stayed in the game with them."
Phil Villapiano, Raiders linebacker: "We got in the huddle, it was fourth-and-22. I said, 'Guys, no penalties, no penalties.' That's the thing that could kill us. To make a stupid penalty."
Harris: "My assignment, stay in the backfield and block. The play is called, go up to the line, ball is hiked. I'm in the backfield. Protection breaks down because I didn't block very well."
John "Frenchy" Fuqua, Steelers fullback: "I come out. I am wide open. I make my move and I see [Terry] Bradshaw. We make eye contact. … I run to a point where the ball is thrown. He didn't throw it directly to me. He threw it to my left a little bit. I run to the ball, and what I can hear is footsteps. Boom, boom, boom, boom. I said to myself, 'Damn. That's [Jack] Tatum.'"