The Immaculate Reception is the nickname given to one of the most famous plays in the history of American football. It occurred in the AFC divisional playoff game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Oakland Raiders at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on December 23, 1972. Late in the game, after Frenchy Fuqua, a Pittsburgh half back, collided with Raiders Safety Jack Tatum as he tried to make a catch, Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris caught the deflected football just before it hit the ground, and ran in for a touchdown that won the game for the Steelers.
NFL Films has chosen it as the greatest play of all time, as well as the most controversial. The play was a turning point for the Steelers, who reversed four decades of futility with their first playoff win ever, and went on to win four Super Bowls by the end of the decade. The play's name is a neologism derived from the Immaculate Conception, a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church that Mary, mother of Jesus, when conceived by her parents, bore no stain of original sin. The phrase was first used on air by Myron Cope, a Pittsburgh sportscaster who was reporting on the Steelers' victory. A Pittsburgh woman, Sharon Levosky, called Cope the night of the game and suggested the name, which was coined by her friend Michael Ord. Cope used the term on television and the phrase stuck. The term was apparently meant to imply that the play was miraculous or divine in nature (see Hail Mary pass for a similar term), though "immaculate" means "clean" or "pure."