Steelers Throwback Thursday: Greatest Plays of All Time

Steel City Underground takes fans back in time to feature events, special moments, and historical times and players in the world of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Steelers Nation. Join us as we revisit these moments in our “Steelers Throwback Thursday” series.

In the annals of football history, few teams have left an indelible mark quite like the Pittsburgh Steelers. Renowned for their ironclad defense, gritty playstyle, and championship pedigree, the Steelers have provided fans countless memorable moments on the gridiron. From iconic touchdowns to game-saving interceptions, the Steelers’ greatest plays showcase the essence of their storied franchise.

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Immaculate Reception (1972)

Arguably the most famous play in NFL history, the “Immaculate Reception” remains etched in the minds of football fans worldwide. In the closing moments of the 1972 AFC Divisional Playoff game against the Raiders, Terry Bradshaw launched a pass for running back John “Frenchy” Fuqua with the Steelers trailing by a single point.

As the ball deflected off a defender, rookie Franco Harris made a miraculous catch just inches from the ground, securing the ball and dashing into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown. This iconic play not only propelled the Steelers to victory but also ignited Chuck Noll‘s dynasty of the 1970s.

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The “Immaculate Extension” (2016)

If you were betting on FanDuel NFL odds during this matchup, you were one of the lucky ones who bet on the Steelers. In a thrilling AFC Divisional Playoff matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs, Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown delivered a moment of sheer brilliance.

With the Steelers clinging to a slim lead late in the game, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger fired a pass to Brown on third-and-long. Despite tight coverage, Brown extended his arm over the goal line, barely breaking the plane of the end zone with the football in hand. The remarkable effort, dubbed the “Immaculate Extension,” secured the victory for the Steelers and showcased Brown’s unparalleled athleticism and determination.

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James Harrison‘s Super Bowl XLIII Interception Return (2009)

Super Bowl XLIII pitted the Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals in a clash for the ages. With the Steelers clinging to a narrow lead just before halftime, linebacker James Harrison delivered a game-changing play that swung the momentum in Pittsburgh’s favor.

Intercepting Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner‘s pass at the goal line, Harrison embarked on a breathtaking 100-yard journey to the end zone, breaking tackles, sidestepping defenders, and displaying remarkable speed for a linebacker. Harrison’s interception return for a touchdown secured crucial points for the Steelers and stands as one of the most electrifying moments in Super Bowl history.

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Franco Harris’s “Immaculate Reception II” (1979)

Seven years after the original “Immaculate Reception,” Franco Harris again found himself amid playoff heroics. Facing the rival Houston Oilers in the 1979 AFC Wild Card game, the Steelers trailed late in the fourth quarter. With time running out, quarterback Terry Bradshaw launched a desperation pass that ricocheted off a defender’s hands.

In a moment of déjà vu, Harris snatched the ball out of the air and rumbled into the end zone for a game-winning touchdown. While not as iconic as the original “Immaculate Reception,” Harris’s clutch play further solidified his place in Steelers’ lore.

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Santonio Holmes‘ Super Bowl XLIII Toe-Tap Catch (2009)

In a Super Bowl showdown against the Arizona Cardinals, wide receiver Santonio Holmes delivered a catch for the ages. With the Steelers trailing late in the fourth quarter, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger orchestrated a game-winning drive, culminating in a dramatic touchdown pass to Holmes in the corner of the end zone.

Despite tight coverage, Holmes managed to get both feet inbounds while securing the football, showcasing incredible concentration and athleticism. The “Toe-Tap Catch” not only sealed the Steelers’ sixth Super Bowl title but also stands as one of the most memorable plays in championship history.

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Troy Polamalu‘s Interception Return vs. Ravens (2008)

Renowned for his intuitive playmaking ability, safety Troy Polamalu delivered a game-changing play against the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. With the Ravens driving deep into Steelers territory, Polamalu anticipated quarterback Joe Flacco‘s pass, leaping into the air to make a spectacular interception.

Evading would-be tacklers and displaying remarkable agility, Polamalu returned the interception for a touchdown, swinging the momentum in favor of the Steelers and solidifying his status as one of the greatest defensive players in franchise history.

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Lynn Swann‘s Super Bowl X Acrobatic Catch (1976)

In Super Bowl X against the Dallas Cowboys, wide receiver Lynn Swann provided a highlight-reel moment that encapsulated his unparalleled athleticism. With the game hanging in the balance, quarterback Terry Bradshaw unleashed a deep pass to Swann, who made a breathtaking leaping catch while fully extending his body in mid-air.

Despite tight coverage from the Cowboys’ defense, Swann managed to secure the ball and maintain possession as he crashed to the turf. The acrobatic catch helped propel the Steelers to victory and earned Swann Super Bowl MVP honors.

Final Thoughts

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ greatest plays are not merely moments frozen in time but enduring symbols of excellence, resilience, and championship glory. From Franco Harris’ “Immaculate Reception” to Santonio Holmes’ “Toe-Tap Catch,” these iconic plays have left an indelible mark on football history, defining the essence of the Steelers’ storied franchise for generations to come.

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