|CAREER STATISTICS||PITTSBURGH STEELERS VS OAKLAND RAIDERS|
|• Born: March 7, 1950, - Fort Dix, New Jersey||
THE MOST MEMORABLE DAY IN THREE RIVERS STADIUM'S HISTORY
| • Drafted: Franco Harris was selected by the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 13th pick in the first round of the 1972 NFL Draft.
• Years Played: 1972-1984
• Position Played: Running Back
• Played For: Pittsburgh Steelers (1972-83), Seattle Seahawks (1984)
• Alma Mater: Penn State
• Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame: 1990
• Uniform Number: 32
• Best Known For: Franco Harris is known as one of the NFL's greatest running backs, but he is probably best known for one spectacular play... the Immaculate Reception!
• Best Season: His best season came in 1975 when he rushed for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns in 14 games.
• NFL Career Totals; Rushed 2,949 times for 12,120 yards and 91 touchdowns, and caught 307 passes for 2,287 yards and nine touchdowns.
• NFL Highlights:• The Sporting News and UPI Rookie of the Year by The Sporting News and United Press International (1972)
• Fourth Rookie in NFL History to Rush for 1,000 Yards
• Named All-Pro (1977)
• Named All-AFC (1972,75,76,77)
• Selected to Nine Pro Bowls
• Played in Five AFC Championships
• Won Four Super Bowls (IX, X, XIII, XIV)
• Super Bowl MVP (IX)
• Rushed for 1,000 Yards in a Season Eight Times
• Rushed for 100 yards in a Game 47 Times
In 1972 the Steelers were coming off of three back to back losing seasons for new Head Coach Chuck Noll. The team had talent but lacked the spark to turn the perennial losers into champions. That changed with the selection of Penn State running back Franco Harris in the first round of the 1972 NFL draft.
Harris, the League's Rookie of the Year, gained 1,055 yards on the ground that season, one that saw Pittsburgh return to the playoffs for the first time since 1947. The dreaded Oakland Raiders made the Christmas time trip to Pittsburgh for a game that would go down in history.
Three quarters of football yielded a defensive battle, with the Steelers taking a 3-0 lead into the 4th. A field goal later and Pittsburgh seemed on the verge of their first playoff win in team history.
That outcome, however, was not to be. With 1:17 left in the 4th quarter Oakland's quarterback, Kenny Stabler, was able to avoid the famed Steel Curtain defense and scramble 30 yards for a touchdown. Oakland was up 7-6. The fans of the Black and Gold were distraught; a season with so much hope being shattered at the last second.
With little time left on the clock, the Steelers proceeded to make one last go at a victory. The drive, however, stalled before midfield and the team was faced with 4th and 10 with only 22 seconds remaining. Art Rooney Sr., "The Chief" and the patriarch of the Pittsburgh Steelers, had left the owners box on the way to congratulate his team on a season well played. He never saw what happened next.
With cries of "same old Steelers" and "losers again" on their lips, the often disappointed fans of Pittsburgh were making their ways to the exit.
But for the faithful, the Almighty was not yet done with that game. Calling the play 66 Circle Option, Terry Bradshaw intended to get the ball into the hands of rookie receiver Barry Pearson, looking for the chance to get into field goal position. Pearson, however, was covered and the Raiders defense was already swarming Bradshaw as he had to scramble in the backfield. Launching the ball before taking a devastating hit, Bradshaw attempted to find his only open receiver, running back John "Frenchy" Fuqua.
What took place next will live on in the hearts of Steeler fans forever. The ball arrived to Frenchy at the same time as Raiders safety Jack "The Assassin" Tatum. The ball flew backwards, towards the ground, towards the end of a promising season.
Out of nowhere, that rookie running back strode towards that ball, scooping it from his shoe laces, down the sideline, past the last Raiders defender and into the endzone for a 60 yard touchdown. Three Rivers erupted - the Steelers had won their first playoff game.
Controversy followed, as Oakland Coach John Madden argued that the ball had hit Fuqua first - a rule from that era which would have made the pass incomplete. But after the first film review ever, the touchdown stood, and a new era of excellence began.