Another season of NFL football is right around the corner. And so too is another season of disappointment and disbelief.
Prepare yourselves, football fans of America, with this look at the 10 most heartbreaking losses in NFL history.
10 – The Fumble
AFC Championship game- January 17, 1988
Still reeling from “The Drive,” Cleveland Browns fans encountered more heartbreak against Denver a year later, as RB Earnest Byner was stripped by Jeremiah Castille at the 2-yard line to send Cleveland packing in the AFC title game in successive seasons.
9 – The Drop
AFC Championship game- January 22, 2012
With New England clinging to a 23–20 lead near the end of the game, Ravens WR Lee Evans dropped a pass in the end zone forcing Baltimore to attempt a 32-yard field goal to send it into overtime. Billy Cundiff’s kick was wide left, earning New England their seventh Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.
8 – The Miss
NFC Championship game- January 17, 1999
After a 15-1 regular season, all that stood between the Minnesota Vikings and a Super Bowl appearance were the underdog Atlanta Falcons. With two minutes left, Gary Anderson (who had made every kick all season) missed a 38-yarder that would have given the Vikings an insurmountable 10-point lead. The Falcons scored a game-tying touchdown and won in overtime.
7 – Tuck Rule
AFC Divisional Playoff game- January 19, 2002
Oakland Raiders’ cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady, causing an apparent fumble that was recovered by Raiders’ linebacker Greg Biekert to seal the game. Officials reviewed the play, and citing the little-known “tuck rule,” gave the ball back to the Patriots, who subsequently moved the ball into field goal range and win the game on an Adam Vinatieri kick.
6 – The Comeback
AFC Wild Card Playoff game- January 3, 1993
The Houston Oilers relinquished a 32-point third quarter lead to fall 41–38 to the Buffalo Bills. The game remains the largest comeback in NFL history.
5 – The Music City Miracle
AFC Wild Card Playoff game- January 9, 2000
After the Buffalo Bills had taken a one-point lead on a field goal with 16 seconds left in the game. On the ensuing kickoff, Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck threw a lateral pass across the field to Kevin Dyson, who then ran 75 yards to score the winning touchdown and earn a 22–16 victory.
4 – Wide Right
Super Bowl XXV- January 27, 1991
With eight seconds left in the game, the Buffalo Bills trailed the New York Giants by a single point. Scott Norwood’s 47-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right to seal the victory for the New York Giants.
3 – Super Santonio
Super Bowl XLII- February 1, 2009
The Arizona Cardinals scored 16 straight fourth quarter points to take the lead with 2:37 remaining in the game. The Pittsburgh Steelers marched 78 yards to score on wide receiver Santonio Holmes’ 6-yard game-winning touchdown catch with 35 seconds left.
2 – One Yard Short
Super Bowl XXXIV- January 30, 2000
Rams linebacker Mike Jones tackled Titans wide receiver Kevin Dyson at the one-yard line as time expired, preserving the Rams’ 23–16 victory.
1 – The Upset
Super Bowl XLII- February 3, 2008
The New England Patriots entered the game as 12-point favorites after becoming the first team to complete a perfect regular season since the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Trailing by four, the New York Giants marched 83 yards in the final minutes with Plaxico Burress scoring the game-winning touchdown with 35 seconds left. The drive included one of the most spectacular catches in NFL history as, on a third-and-5 play from the Giants’ 44 yard line, David Tyree soared and used one hand to pin the ball against his helmet for a 32-yard gain.