Steelers fans will really, really enjoy the NBC drama’s season 3 premiere, as it prominently features the most famous play in Pittsburgh sports history.
Spoilers for This Is Us to follow.
It’s a real treat to watch This Is Us as a Pittsburgher.
Entertainment is almost never set in places like Pittsburgh. The settings are usually either New York City or Los Angeles, or if a show is feeling particularly frisky, it will pick another location either in California or on the East Coast (probably in the Northeast corridor).
This Is Us still has most of its weepy melodrama taking place in NYC and LA, but a third of the show is refreshingly set in Pittsburgh. It’s been a lot of fun spotting the references big and small, especially anything involving the Steelers, who have played a huge role in the Pearson family’s lives throughout the years. Heck, Kate and Kevin are definitively Super Bowl babies.
Well, add another connection to the boys and black and gold to that list: The This Is Us season 3 finale revealed that Jack and Rebecca met on the night of the Immaculate Reception, the greatest play in Steelers history, Pittsburgh sports history (yes, more than the Bill Mazeroski home run) and is in the running at least for greatest play in sports history.
For This Is Us viewers who only watch the show for a weekly cry, the Immaculate Reception occurred on Dec. 23, 1972, during the AFC Championship game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Oakland Raiders. Down 7-6 with the clock expiring, Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw let loose a desperation heave that miraculously ended up in the hands of running back Franco Harris, who ran into the end zone untouched. The city of Pittsburgh was lucky to not burn down that night.
Here’s the play in all its glory:
Well, it turned out that the night Jack stumbled into that bar planning to rob it only to be enamored with its lovely entertainer was also Dec. 23, 1972. No one was particularly dressed like it was December in Pittsburgh, but you know, TV magic.
A large portion of the season 3 premiere was Jack and Rebecca’s first date. Every time Jack bought something from a vendor at a local carnival, either he or the carnival worker would ask, “Did you see the game?” To which Jack would instinctively reply, “I know, insane!”
It truly is a testament to how immediately infatuated he was with Rebecca that the gravity of the Immaculate Reception was almost all but lost on him.
It was completely lost on Rebecca, who replied to one vendor’s question with a confused, “What game?” We know that Jack converts Rebecca into a diehard Steelers fans over the course of their relationship, but it’s cute to be reminded just how clueless she was when it came to sports when they first began dating.
But wait, that’s not the only piece of Steelers-related content in this episode. It begins with none other than Franco Harris himself (played by an actor who’s the spitting image of ’70s Harris) calling his parents before heading to Three Rivers Stadium. The Steelers Twitter account appreciated this fantastic shot of the team taking the field to face the Raiders:
The episode ended with young Franco celebrating the win at home with his family and Jack watching coverage of the game while reflecting on his first date with Rebecca. As the announcer talks about how sometimes footballs have to hit the wrong person before being caught by the right one, we found out there’s another blonder, more mustachioed man in Rebecca’s life.
Ah, life imitating sports. It never gets old.