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Jack Del Rio Brings Up Old Wounds Ahead of Raiders-Steelers Clash

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It’s been over 40 years, but it appears the Immaculate Reception continues to stir up controversy among fans, players and coaches of the NFL.

The latest personality to draw attention to the (in)famous play is Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio, who couldn’t resist submitting his own – albeit biased – two cents to arguably the most analysed play in football history.

“The catch shouldn’t have counted,” Del Rio stirred reporters on Wednesday. “I mean, come on, let’s be real, the ball hit the ground.”

The ball’s contact with the turf wasn’t the only point of contention. At a time when only one offensive player besides the center and quarterback was allowed to touch the ball on any one play, the referees ruled that the ball ricocheted off Oakland safety Jack Tatum, not Pittsburgh receiver John Fuqua, allowing halfback Franco Harris to scoop it up inches from the grass and run in the deciding score in the 1972 Divisional Playoff.

Without the luxury of instant replay or high definition TV, we may never have conclusive evidence on what really happened.

Del Rio later turned more diplomatic when discussing the great and often violent history shared between the two proud franchises.

“They were kind of a thorn in our side in the mid-‘70s there. It was championship level football. We’re looking forward to this matchup. This is a heck of a team and they’re at their place, so it should be a good game.”

Should a similar situation arise this week, the Steelers won’t have a superstar running back to rely on for the scoop-and-score. Having placed Le’Veon Bell on injured reserve through the week, Pittsburgh will re-promote DeAngelo Williams to the starting role.

After an uninspired return from Ben Roethlisberger last week, the Steelers will be looking to limit the Raiders’ time of possession and, by extension, the big-play capabilities of a tireless running game and the lethal combination of Derek Carr and Amari Cooper. And much like 1972, a playoff game could loom large for the winner of this one.

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