‘Felt like he was with us tonight’: Steelers honour Harris with win over Raiders

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Mike Tomlin wasn’t able to go there, with all due respect.

Sure, the Pittsburgh Steelers coach understands the symmetry between Saturday evening’s 13-10 win over the Las Vegas Raiders and a playoff victory over the identical franchise 50 years in the past, the one which ended with Steelers operating again Franco Harris snagging a deflected cross and sprinting into NFL lore with what’s universally often known as “The Immaculate Reception.”

Like that recreation 5 a long time and in the future in the past, a rookie scored the successful landing, this time huge receiver George Pickens on a 14-yard dart from Kenny Pickett with 46 seconds remaining.

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But the similarities finish there. Harris’ play was voted probably the most well-known in NFL historical past throughout its a centesimal anniversary season in 2020 and helped launch a dynasty.

What occurred at frigid Acrisure Stadium on Christmas Eve of 2022 was not that.

“I’m not going to attempt to put it in that neighborhood,” Tomlin stated with amusing. “Not even in that metropolis.”

Nonetheless, Tomlin can recognize that Pickett, Pickens and all the remainder of Pittsburgh’s nonetheless extremely younger offense etched what he referred to as a “small place in Steelers lore” by placing collectively a formidable late drive that saved Pittsburgh’s slim playoff hopes alive whereas concurrently paying tribute to Harris.

The Corridor of Fame operating again died on Wednesday, two days earlier than the golden anniversary of his defining play and three days earlier than the franchise retired his No. 32. His sudden passing turned what was speculated to be a celebration of his profession right into a poignant reflection on his outstanding life.

The present Steelers — all of whom had been born after Harris retired in 1984 — did their finest to pay tribute. Tight finish Pat Freiermuth, a Penn State graduate identical to Harris, urged to Tomlin through the week that your entire workforce present up on Saturday evening carrying replicas of Harris’ jersey.

Defensive finish and co-captain Cam Heyward ran onto the sector waving a large flag with Harris’ quantity on it. Pickett made a dummy “Franco! Franco” name throughout his cadence earlier than sneaking for a primary down.

Throughout halftime, Harris’ widow Dana Dokmanovich, and their son, Dok, joined workforce president Artwork Rooney II for a tearful ceremony that included Dokmanovich leaning into Rooney for assist after he introduced her along with her late husband’s jersey.

“We devoted this to Franco,” Pickett stated. “Felt like he was with us tonight.”

Pickett accomplished 26 of 39 passes for 244 yards with a landing and an interception. Freiermuth caught seven passes for 66 yards and Najee Harris had 95 whole yards because the Steelers (7-8) received for the fifth time in seven video games.

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“We’re nonetheless within the hunt,” Heyward stated. “I prefer to suppose we simply preserve getting higher and higher because the weeks go on.”

Derek Carr threw for 174 yards with a landing and three interceptions, the final one a floater down the center of the sector that was picked off by Cam Sutton with 29 seconds to go. Pittsburgh rookie Connor Heyward ran for a primary down to assist the Steelers run out of the clock.

The Raiders (6-9), coming off a dramatic last-play victory over New England final week, reverted to their type from earlier this season by dropping their eighth one-score recreation of the yr. They might be eradicated from the playoffs by the top of the week.

“We’ve pulled out lots (of video games) after which to lose on this vogue when you might have a shot to win, you understand you’re shut however shut doesn’t actually matter on this league,” Las Vegas head coach Josh McDaniels stated. “I clearly need to do a greater job to attempt to shut the hole.”

It was a niche the Raiders discovered themselves on the best aspect of for the primary 59-plus minutes on the second-coldest dwelling recreation in Steelers’ historical past.

Carr began crisply within the 8-degree (minus-13 Celsius) climate — the coldest dwelling recreation for the Steelers since 1989 — and completed off a 14-play, 71-yard opening drive with a 14-yard landing strike to Hunter Renfrow.

But Las Vegas let the Steelers hold round, and Pickett — whose title was introduced by Harris when Pittsburgh took him with the twentieth general choose in final spring’s draft — offered the primary signature second of what the Steelers hope will likely be a adorned profession.

“I can’t say sufficient about (our younger offensive gamers), all of them,” Tomlin stated. “They confirmed poised and resolve and made the required performs. We transfer ahead with a very good Christmas.”

INJURIES

Raiders: DE Chandler Jones exited with a left elbow damage within the third quarter after colliding with teammate Maxx Crosby and didn’t return. … LB Denzel Perryman went to the locker room with a left shoulder damage within the fourth quarter.

Steelers: CB Tre Norwood left within the first half with a hamstring damage and didn’t return.

UP NEXT

Raiders: Host NFC West champion San Francisco on Jan. 1.

Steelers: At Baltimore on Jan. 1. The Ravens edged Pittsburgh 16-14 at Acrisure Stadium on Dec. 11.

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