On Dec. 23, 1972, the Steelers beat the Raiders on a miraculous-and disputed-last-second touchdown dubbed the "Immaculate Reception."
By 1972, the Pittsburgh Steelers had been in the National Football League for 39 seasons. During that time, they had finished above .500 only nine times and had made just one postseason appearance. With 22 seconds left in the AFC Divisional Playoff Game against the Oakland Raiders, the Steelers trailed 7-6. With his team facing fourth-and-10 at its own 40-yard line, Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw fired a pass to running back John "Frenchy" Fuqua. In one of the most bizarre plays in football history, Fuqua, Raiders safety Jack Tatum and the ball all collided simultaneously, sending the ball ricocheting back toward the line of scrimmage
Steelers rookie running back Franco Harris plucked the ball out of the air at his shoestrings and ran it 42 yards into the endzone.
Steelers fans rushed onto the field, though the referees did not signal touchdown. In 1972, it was illegal for a pass to rebound from one receiver to another without it being touched by a defensive player. Because Fuqua, Tatum and the ball hit simultaneously, it was nearly impossible to tell whether it hit Tatum or Fuqua. Thirty years later, physics professors were still arguing the issue. Fortunately, we have a video so you can decide for yourself.
The reception ended nearly 40 years of futility for the Pittsburgh NFL team, which went on to win 4 Super Bowls in the next decade. But for Pittsburgh sports fans, the joy from the event subsided just 8 days later, when Pittsburgh baseball legend Roberto Clemente was killed in a plane crash.
December 23 is also the birthday of Madam C.J. Walker, the first African-American female millionaire.
Our feature article highlights 9 historical events that happened on Christmas Day.
NatGeo's Photo of the Day is of Giant's Causeway in Ireland.