Erie, Pennsylvania (WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — The Pittsburgh Steelers community is mourning the loss of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris. Meanwhile, the Steelers are set to take on the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday, Dec. 24.
Harris is credited with “The Immaculate Reception,” considered the most iconic play in NFL history, in which he caught a deflected pass thrown by Terry Bradshaw with the Steelers trailing on fourth down and mere seconds left in the Dec. 23, 1972, AFC divisional playoff game. Harris ran in for a touchdown. The game was against the then-Oakland Raiders (the Raiders have since moved to Las Vegas).
Harris died on Dec. 20, 2022. His death was a blow to the franchise. Harris has had an enduring impact on Pittsburgh, not just the team but also the community, beyond his time in the NFL. He was a true ambassador to Pittsburgh. He was known to be approachable.
“To see him pass yesterday was like losing a member of the family,” said Black and Gold Today’s Kent Urbanski.
Pittsburgh is coming off a big road win against the Carolina Panthers, 24-16, last week. That brings the Steelers’ record to 6-8 for the season.
On Saturday, the Steelers need to take advantage of the cold weather. The Raiders play in an indoor stadium. The Steelers need to run the football and stay ahead of the chains.
Quarterback Kenny Pickett did not play last week but is expected to play on Saturday if he’s available. As a primetime game, a Christmas Eve game and a rivalry game, the matchup presents an opportunity to shine for Pickett, a rookie who earned the starting position a few games into the regular season.
Expect a heavy run game with the bitter temperatures. Ball security could be an issue due to the frigid temperature (cold hands and a slick football lead to errant snaps and carries). The Steelers will need to stop the rush and force a passing game.
The Raiders had some bad breaks in early season games. It’s a talented team. But both the Raiders and the Steelers have gained momentum in recent games. Three weeks remain in the season.
The Steelers will host the Raiders in Pittsburgh on Saturday, Dec. 24. Kickoff is at 8:15 p.m.