The Renfro Catch - 1979 AFCC Steelers vs Oilers
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The Renfro Catch - 1979 AFCC Steelers vs Oilers

In the 1970's, the road to the Super Bowl went through Pittsburgh. And perhaps no one knew this better than the Houston Oilers of Bum Phillips, Earl Campbell and Dan Pastorini. Twice -- in '78 and '79 -- the Oilers drove that road, which is the subject of this video.

No NFL rivalry may ever quite duplicate the curious "love/hate" relationship between Steelers and Oilers of the late 1970's. Despite the fierce rivalry on the field, there was a healthy respect and admiration between the two teams, who were mirror-images of each other in many ways. Most of all, they were incredibly physical, splitting their regular season slugfests in both '78 and '79.

Pittsburgh thoroughly dismantled the Oilers 34-5 in the 1978 AFC Championship. But in the 1979 rematch, the Oilers proved to be a much tougher foe. After falling behind early courtesy of a long Vernon Perry INT return for a TD, Steelers led 17-10 late in the 3rd quarter when the Oilers mounted an impressive drive centered almost entirely around possession receiver Mike Renfro.

On first and goal from the Steeler 6, Dan Pastorini delivered a perfectly thrown quick fade into the far right corner of the end zone, and Renfro made a beautiful over-the-shoulder catch for a TD. Although replays showed that Renfro caught the ball with control and both feet in bounds, the officials incorrectly ruled no catch, no TD.

The Oilers failed to move the ball on their next 2 plays and settled for a FG to narrow the score to 17-13, but the damage was done. Pittsburgh added 10 unanswered points to win 27-13, advancing to their 4th Super Bowl in 6 years.

This famous (or infamous if you're an Oilers fan) play had a massive impact on the future of the NFL, ultimately leading to the instant replay rule being introduced, changing the game forever.



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