The Immaculate Reception can't be beat. A recent ESPN poll asking readers to vote for the best play in Steelers history confirms that - Franco's miracle took home 71 percent of the 41,000 votes.
There are no points for second place 'n all that. Still, the much more intriguing question here is what is the second-best play in Steelers history?
James Harrison's 101-yard interception return narrowly defeated Ben Roethlisberger's touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes, both happening in Super Bowl XLIII. If we were pitting those two plays against each other, the results would seem far more interesting than the obvious and iconic Immaculate Reception.
You want context? Harris's play came in Pittsburgh where the Raiders and Steelers were fairly evenly matched. The Steelers were heavy favorites over the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII. The Steelers were 9.5-point road dogs against the hugely talented Colts - a team that put a beating of savage proportions on them earlier that season.
The play itself obviously can't boast the magnitude of the Super Bowl, but let's talk about the shock value of the moment. Ben's pass to Holmes was no doubt something worthy of legend (I still contend throwing that same pass where Ben was when he threw it would be completed once out of 100, with 60 interceptions and 39 incompletions), but the smartest decision he ever made on the field was not to dive after the fumble, caused by Gary Brackett on a perfect hit on Jerome Bettis at the goal line. It was to back-peddle, and continue wrong-turning with Harper until he got close enough to make a play on him.
Harrison's interception is more an emotional display of a man who never quit; small school to undrafted to multiple cuts to NFL Europe to fan body slams to Defensive Player of the Year to simply out-willing an All Pro wide receiver in a foot race at the end of the half. He made a read at the snap, quarterback Kurt Warner didn't see him and hit him square between the 9 and the 2 with the ball. The Super Bowl is not won without that play, nor is it won without Ben to Santonio. But does that Steelers team have the level of confidence it did in 2008 without having survived what has to be the most dramatic and shocking final five minutes of NFL football ever played? That tackle stands out among literally a dozen plays over the last half of the fourth quarter of one of the biggest playoff upsets ever.
We'll put it to you, dear BTSC readers, which is bigger, Ben to Santonio, Silverback's Pick Six or The Tackle?