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. The play has been a source of unresolved controversy and speculation ever since.
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 pun derived from the Immaculate Conception, a dogma in the Roman Catholic Church. 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.