In the 1970s, the Pittsburgh Steelers and then-Oakland Raiders had one of the most ferocious inter-division rivalries in the AFC, with the teams meeting in the playoffs five straight seasons from 1971-76 and again in 1983 and four of those years ending with one of them hoisting the Lombardi Trophy.
Things have cooled off since then, with the expansion of the NFL making the teams’ meeting less and less frequent and the Raiders struggling mightily since last appearing in the Super Bowl in 2002.
The rivalry of the 1970s is long gone. Or is it?
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was asked about that bygone era this week and he gave a response sure to raise some eyebrows around Pittsburgh.
“The ball touched the ground,” Carr said on Wednesday, referencing Franco Harris’ Immaculate Reception of a ball that deflected off either Raiders linebacker Jack Tatum or Steelers running back Frenchy Fuqua, depending on who you ask.
Under league rules at the time, the pass would have been illegal if it touched Fuqua, and not Tatum. Even nearing 50 years distant, Fuqua has always remained quiet about whether or not he touched it, maintaining that he’ll take the truth to his grave.
Then-Raiders coach John Madden has maintained that the game officials looked at replay — a no-no at the time — and made a phone call before making their ruling.
So from the Raiders side of things, it appears there is at least still some animosity toward the Black and Gold. And for the Steelers, things haven’t exactly gone well against the Raiders lately, even though the stakes have been low. The Steelers have lost five of their last seven against the Raiders, despite the Raiders making the playoffs one time in the last 18 seasons.
So the current Steelers have plenty of reason for unhappiness, even if the rivalry isn’t the same as it once was. And shots at Harris will not be tolerated.
“Everybody likes to talk Franco didn’t catch the ball,” defensive tackle Cam Heyward said. “Raiders-Steelers is always full of shenanigans.
“I saw one thing that was like Raider Nation, we’re about to break out our Black and Silver, and I’m like, ‘That’s not going to happen here.’ This isn’t the Chargers where everybody goes and has as home game. When you come here, it’s Black and Gold all day. I’m excited to see it. We’ve missed it dearly. It’s such an advantage as a defense.”
News and notes from around the Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football League.
🏈 Steelers RT Zach Banner plans on returning for Week 4. Cale Berger
🏈 Raiders G Denzelle Good is out for the season. Jarrett Bailey
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AROUND THE NFL
🏈 2020 Six Steelers were nominated for the Hall of Fale Class of 2021 Saunders
🏈 1996 Steelers cornerback James Pierre was born in Deerfield Beach, Florida.
🏈 1972 Former Steelers tight end Mark Bruener was born in Olympia, Washington.
Bruener was the Steelers’ first-round pick out of Washington in 1995 and spent nine seasons with the team, including a part of the Super Bowl XXX roster. Since his retirement, Bruener has been a member of the Steelers scouting department.
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