On the same wavelength as “The Immaculate Reception” from the historic 1972 game, Saturday night’s Raiders vs Steelers Week 16 matchup at Acrisure Stadium ended with a rookie scoring the game winning touchdown. Steelers quarterback Kenny Pickett found rookie receiver George Pickens for a 14 yard touchdown to take the lead within the final minute of regulation, resulting in a 10–13 loss for the Silver and Black.
Rewinding back 50 years, Steelers fullback Franco Harris was on the receiving end of a deflected pass thrown by his quarterback Terry Bradshaw. Down 7–6, the Steelers were on their own 40 yard line with only 22 seconds left on the clock when the play occurred. On a 4th and 10, Harris was luckily in perfect position and caught the ball as the pass was deflected, and ran down 40 yards for the game-winning touchdown.
The legendary back passed away on Wednesday, three days before the Steelers retired his number 32 and two days before the golden anniversary of his pivotal moment. What was meant to be a celebration of his profession was instead converted into a moving tribute to his extraordinary life due to his untimely demise.
Fast forwarding back to the present, Pickett finished the night with 244 yards and one touchdown on 26 completions while Las Vegas Raiders quarterback threw for 154 yards for one touchdown on 16 completions. Davante Adams was shut down once again, catching only two receptions on nine targets. Receiver Hunter Renfrow was the only Vegas positional player to score in the Raiders vs Steelers Week 16 matchup.
The Raiders drew first blood at the middle of the first quarter, and that was pretty much all she wrote following kicker Daniel Carlon’s 40 yard field goal right before the half. Pittsburgh were also able to convert a field goal prior to the break, along with another by Chris Boswell early in the fourth quarter.
With 55 seconds left in the game, Pickett executed a QB rush on a 4th & 1, which set up the game-winning touchdown to Pickens. The Las Vegas Raiders had one last offensive drive to win the game, but Carr’s pass down the middle to Renfrow ended up getting picked off by Steelers cornerback Cameron Sutton.
“We’ve pulled out plenty and then to lose in this fashion when you have a shot to win, you realize you’re close but close doesn’t really count in this league,” said Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels. “I obviously have to do a better job to try and close the gap.”
With a possibility to be eliminated from playoff contention, the Raiders will travel back home on New Year’s Day to host the San Francisco 49ers who have clinched the NFL West division title. Our New Year’s resolution couldn’t be more obvious.