Pittsburgh wide receiver George Pickens caught a 14-yard touchdown pass with 46 seconds to play to lift the Steelers to a 13-10 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday night.
Pittsburgh was celebrating the 50th anniversary of another last-minute victory over the Raiders during Saturday’s game.
On Dec. 23, 1972, a miraculous play by Pittsburgh running back Franco Harris with 22 seconds remaining had beaten the Oakland Raiders 13-7 in the AFC playoffs.
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he wasn’t going to put Pickens’ catch “in that neighbor, not even in that city” as Harris’ catch, but “it was a nice play.”
The Steelers had decided to mark the golden anniversary of the Immaculate Reception by retiring Harris’ No. 32 at halftime. But the event became a memorial after Harris died suddenly at age 72 on Tuesday night.
The Steelers looked like they might fumble their end of the event as they entered the final period trailing 10-3.
But Pickens’ touchdown catch from quarterback Kenny Pickett capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive that started with 2:55 remaining in the game.
“We had a chance to be a part of Steeler history tonight, and we don’t take that lightly,” Tomlin said, attending his press conference wearing a Harris jersey. “We’re just so appreciative of the ground that’s been laid by those that have come before us, the men like this man’s jersey that I’m wearing right here. We get to enjoy the fruit of their labor daily just in terms of the standard of expectations here in Pittsburgh, the relationship we have with our fan base, and we just wanted to honor him, his teammates and all the men that have come before us that’s made the Black and Gold what it is. And so we’re just thankful to get the victory.”
The final catch gave the former Hoover High School star five receptions for 57 yards in the game.
A second-round draft choice from Georgia on April 29, Pickens has 47 receptions for 700 yards and three touchdowns in his rookie season.
“We’re professionals,” Tomlin said. “Football’s our game. Our business is winning. We’re going to be in emotionally charged environments from time to time ceremonially or just weight of the game. I just think that’s part of professional football. We got to find ways to compartmentalize that and do what’s required, which is play winning football. Make no mistake about it, it was a significant game, but it’s probably just a significant game because so many of our guys are young and they stood up tonight, and it was a growth outing probably more than anything.”
Pickens was among the 30 players from Alabama high schools and colleges (excluding Alabama and Auburn) who got on the field on the 16th weekend of the NFL’s 103rd season.
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Four other former state players were involved in the Las Vegas-Pittsburgh game:
· Raiders running back Ameer Abdullah (Homewood) caught two passes for 27 yards and returned three kickoffs for 50 yards.
· Raiders defensive tackle Neil Farrell Jr. (Murphy) made two tackles.
· Steelers linebacker Malik Reed (Dothan) made one tackle.
· Steelers offensive lineman Trent Scott (Lee-Huntsville) played but did not record any stats.
In the other Sunday games:
Baltimore Ravens 17, Atlanta Falcons 9
· Ravens outside linebacker Jeremiah Moon (Hoover) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Ravens defensive tackle Michael Pierce (Daphne, Samford) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
Carolina Panthers 37, Detroit Lions 23
· Panthers running back Spencer Brown (Mortimer Jordan, UAB) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Lions guard Logan Stenberg (James Clemens) played but did not record any stats.
Buffalo Bills 35, Chicago Bears 13
· Bears fullback Khari Blasingame (Buckhorn) made a tackle on special teams.
· Velus Jones Jr. (Saraland) started at wide receiver for the Bears. Jones had two receptions for 52 yards, including a 44-yarder for the longest play of the game. Jones also had four kickoff returns for 113 yards, including a 40-yarder.
· Bears wide receiver Darnell Mooney (Gadsden City) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Nicholas Morrow (Huntsville) started at linebacker for the Bears. Morrow led Chicago with eight tackles and intercepted a pass. Morrow picked off Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen for his first interception of the 2022 season and the third of his career. Morrow had a 5-yard return to give Chicago possession at the Bills 18-yard line trailing 21-10 with 12:13 to play. The Bears were able to get only a field goal out of the turnover.
· Bills cornerback Siran Neal (Eufaula, Jacksonville State) made three tackles on defense and two on special teams.
New Orleans 17, Cleveland Browns 10
· Browns linebacker Tae Davis (Oxford) made a tackle on special teams. Cleveland elevated Davis from its practice squad to make him eligible to play.
· Browns offensive tackle Chris Hubbard (UAB) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Saints quarterback Jameis Winston (Hueytown) dressed for the game but did not play.
· Alex Wright (Elba, UAB) started at defensive end for the Browns. Wright did not record any stats.
Kansas City Chiefs 24, Seattle Seahawks 10
· Mike Jackson (Spain Park) started at left cornerback for the Seahawks. Jackson had three tackles and broke up a pass.
· Chiefs wide receiver Justyn Ross (Central-Phenix City) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (Blount) caught an 8-yard touchdown pass and returned two punts for 18 yards. Toney scored the game’s first points with his second touchdown of the season on a pass from Patrick Mahomes with 6:41 left in the first quarter.
Minnesota Vikings 27, New York Giants 24
· Giants offensive tackle Korey Cunningham (Montevallo) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Cor’Dale Flott (Saraland) started at nickelback for the Giants. Flott made four tackles and broke up a pass in his fourth start of the season.
· Vikings quarterback Nick Mullens (Spain Park) dressed for the game but did not play.
· Za’Darius Smith (Greenville) started at outside linebacker for the Vikings. Smith registered three quarterback hits.
· Giants defensive lineman Nick Williams (Minor, Samford) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
Cincinnati Bengals 22, New England Patriots 18
· Bengals cornerback Allan George (Andalusia) played but did not record any stats. Cincinnati elevated George from its practice squad to make him eligible to play.
· Marcus Jones (Enterprise, Troy) started at right cornerback for the Bengals. Jones led New England with a career-high 14 tackles, registered a tackle for loss, intercepted a pass, recovered a fumble and caught a 15-yard pass. Jones returned his second NFL interception 69 yards for the Patriots’ first points of the game with 3:51 left in the third quarter. He recovered a Cincinnati fumble at the Bengals 43-yard line with 3:12 to play with New England trailing by four points. He then turned a line-of-scrimmage pass into a 15-yard gain to move New England to the Bengals 16-yard line at the two-minute warning, but the Patriots fumbled away their chance to win with 59 seconds remaining.
· Bengals kicker Evan McPherson (Fort Payne) connected on a 28-yard field goal and was wide left on a 43-yarder. McPherson went 1-of-2 on extra-point kicks on an 18-degree day with winds blowing from the northeast at 12 mph.
· Cam Taylor-Britt (Park Crossing) started at cornerback for the Bengals. Taylor-Britt made four tackles and broke up two passes. Taylor-Britt was in coverage on the Patriots’ incompletion on fourth down with nine seconds to play.
Houston Texans 19, Tennessee Titans 14
· Texans defensive end Mario Addison (Tarrant, Troy) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Texans wide receiver Nico Collins (Clay-Chalkville) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Zach Cunningham (Pinson Valley) started at linebacker for the Titans. Cunningham made one tackle and broke up a pass in his return from injured reserve. Cunningham had not played since Nov. 6 because of an elbow injury, and he left Saturday’s game because of an elbow injury.
· Tytus Howard (Monroe County, Alabama State) started at left guard for the Texans. Howard was out of his regular right-tackle spot for the second straight game because of injuries in the Houston offensive line, but he left Saturday’s game to be evaluated for a concussion.
· Titans center Ben Jones (Bibb County) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Monty Rice (James Clemens) started at linebacker for the Titans. Rice led Tennessee with nine tackles.
· Texans cornerback Tremon Smith (Saks) made a tackle on special teams and returned a kickoff 26 yards.
· Texans defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth (Murphy) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
San Francisco 49ers 37, Washington Commanders 20
· Forty-Niners cornerback Jackrabbit Jenkins (North Alabama) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Forty-Niners tight end Jordan Matthews (Madison Academy) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Commanders safety Bobby McCain (Oxford) made two tackles.
· Commanders running back J.D. McKissic (Central-Phenix City) is on injured reserve and not eligible to play.
· Jeremy Reaves (South Alabama) started at safety for the Commanders. Reaves had played 25 defensive snaps and did not have a start this season entering Saturday’s game, but he made eight tackles and broke up a pass against San Francisco.
· Forty-Niners defensive back Jimmie Ward (Davidson) made four tackles and intercepted a pass. Ward’s third interception of 2022 and seventh of his career came at the Washington 25-yard line and he returned it for a touchdown with 11:19 left to play – except video review ruled him down by contract at the point of the interception, taking away Ward’s score. San Francisco got a field goal out of the possession for a 30-14 lead with 9:16 remaining.
Dallas Cowboys 40, Philadelphia Eagles 34
· Reed Blankenship (West Limestone) started at safety for the Eagles. The rookie returned from a one-game injury absence to make eight tackles.
· James Bradberry (Pleasant Grove, Samford) started at cornerback for the Eagles. Bradberry made two tackles and broke up a pass.
· Cowboys defensive tackle Anthony Rush (UAB) is on the practice squad and not eligible to play.
· Cowboys wide receiver Jalen Tolbert (McGill-Toolen, South Alabama) was designated as a game-day inactive.
· Quez Watkins (Athens) started at wide receiver for the Eagles. Watkins caught a 19-yard pass and made two tackles after turnovers.
· Cowboys defensive end Sam Williams (Lee-Montgomery) as a game-day inactive. Williams was not on the Dallas injury report, but he was involved in a traffic accident this week.
Week 16 started on Thursday night, when the Jacksonville Jaguars defeated the New York Jets 19-3.
Week 16 continues on Sunday, when the Green Bay Packers and Miami Dolphins face off at noon CST, Denver Broncos and Los Angeles Rams meet at 3:30 p.m. and Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals play at 7:20 p.m. FOX will televise the Packers-Dolphins, CBS and Nickelodeon will televise the Broncos-Rams and NBC will televise the Buccaneers-Cardinals.
Week 16 concludes on Monday, when the Los Angeles Chargers and Indianapolis Colts square off at 7:15 p.m. ESPN and ESPN Deportes will televise the game.
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Mark Inabinett is a sports reporter for Alabama Media Group. Follow him on Twitter at @AMarkG1.
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