Erie, Pennsylvania (WJET/WFXP/YourErie.com) — Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Las Vegas Raiders. Now, the Steelers are preparing to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Jan. 1.
On Christmas Eve, the Steelers honored and retired the number of Hall of Fame running back Franco Harris who died last week.
Harris is credited with “The Immaculate Reception,” — considered the most iconic play in NFL history — where 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.
During the Christmas Eve game this year, Harris’s passing loomed heavily.
“It didn’t seem like it had the energy that a normal game does when people are tailgating — it was kind of reserved,” Black and Gold Today’s Kent Urbanski said. “There was a solemness in the air with Franco passing and then retiring his number at halftime.”
This year, the Steelers defeated the Raiders 13-10 with a last minute drive that was eerily similar to the last-second finish back in 1972.
The Steelers have won five of their last seven games coming out of the bye week. There’s a chance for Pittsburgh to finish with a winning season (the Steelers are 7-8 on the season).
Pittsburgh will take on the Ravens on Sunday, Jan. 1. The Steelers could upset Baltimore’s playoff outlook. It’s a rivalry game. The Ravens have had some turns of good fortune during the season that has influenced their record.
The Pittsburgh offense is beginning to click. More red-zone plays throughout every quarter would be beneficial, but the Steelers have improved their run game recently.
Keeping the Ravens to limited rushing yards is key to success. The Steelers have improved their fundamentals of tackling as of late.
Last time the Ravens and Steelers met, the Pittsburgh special team struggled with punting and blocked field goal attempts. Baltimore’s kicker likely is a future Hall of Famer. The temperatures should be more favorable for kickers on Sunday.
The game kicks off at 8:20 p.m. in Baltimore.