Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw dropped back to pass, but the Raiders flushed him out of the pocket to the right. He saw running back John (Frenchy) Fuqua over the middle at the Raiders' 35, and with defenders closing, Bradshaw fired a pass toward Fuqua.
Fuqua, Raiders safety Jack Tatum and the ball converged simultaneously, and out popped the ball.
The Raiders began to celebrate, not realizing that rookie running back Franco Harris, trailing the play at the Raiders' 42, had picked the ball out of the air at his shoe tops and took off down the left sideline.
Some Raiders gave chase, but they could not stop Harris from running to the end zone. Touchdown? Nobody knew, including the officials. The Raiders argued that Fuqua had batted the ball to Harris (the rules of the time did not permit consecutive touches by offensive players). If Tatum had batted the ball, the play would have been a touchdown.
Referee Fred Swearingen, after consulting with NFL supervisor of officials Art McNally, came back on the field and ruled the play a touchdown. Pittsburgh kicked the extra point to take a 13-7 lead with five seconds left, a score that was finalized moments later.
For a franchise cursed by a four-decade run of bad luck, the "Immaculate Reception" amounted to an unbelievable dose of good fortune -- and a welcome turning point.