PITTSBURGH — Kenny Pickett threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to George Pickens with 46 seconds left, and the Pittsburgh Steelers capped three days of tributes to the late Franco Harris with a 13-10 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday night.
That same night, the Steelers were eliminated from Harris’ No. 32 — the Hall of Fame running back died Wednesday at age 72 — Pittsburgh (7-8) kept its tenuous playoff hopes alive by clinching another win in last second over the Raiders. Las Vegas (6-9) was pushed to the brink of elimination from the postseason.
A day after the 50th anniversary of Harris’ “Immaculate Reception” win over the Raiders in the 1972 playoffs, Pickett deftly drove the Steelers 76 yards in 10 games, the last a dart down center to a wide-open pickens in the end zone .
Pickett completed 26 of 39 for 244 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tight end Pat Freiermuth caught seven passes for 66 yards and Najee Harris had a total of 95 yards as the Steelers won for the fifth time in seven games.
Derek Carr threw for 174 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, the last a floater in midfield that was picked up by Cam Sutton with 29 seconds left. Pittsburgh rookie Connor Heyward ran for a first down to help the Steelers lose time.
The Raiders, who clinched a dramatic final-game win over New England last week, returned to their form earlier this season by losing their eighth game by a goal of the year. They could be out of the playoffs by the end of the week.
The Steelers paid tribute to Harris in a number of ways on a bitterly cold night. Players wore replicas of his jersey upon entering the stadium. Defense Captain Cam Heyward ran onto the field waving a giant flag with Harris’ number on it, and Pickett even shouted “Franco! Franco!” during his cadence before converting a quarterback sneak in the first half.
Still, it looked like it wouldn’t be enough. While Pittsburgh moved the ball effortlessly at times, he kept fighting as he neared the end zone. Pickett threw an interception in the third quarter – his first in 145 attempts – and Chris Boswell missed two field goals.
Carr started crisp in 8-degree weather — the coldest home game for the Steelers since 1989 — and ended a 14-play, 71-yard opening drive with a 14-yard touchdown strike against Hunter Renfrow.
But Las Vegas let the Steelers hang around, and Pickett – whose name was revealed by Harris when Pittsburgh picked him up with the 20th –
What was to be a celebration weekend for one of the NFL’s marquees became bittersweet when Harris died just two days before the 50th anniversary of his “Immaculate Reception” against the Raiders in the 1972 playoffs.
The halftime ceremony was attended by many of Harris’s 1970s Steelers dynasty teammates. His widow, Dana Dokmanovich, and their son, Dok, joined Pittsburgh President Art Rooney II on stage. Dokmanovich leaned into Rooney after presenting her with Harris’ jersey, and Pittsburgh Hall of Fame defensive end Joe Greene wiped away tears.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.