The Most Heartbreaking Moment for Every NFL Team This Season

Matt Stein@MatthewJSteinCorrespondent IIJanuary 2, 2012

The Most Heartbreaking Moment for Every NFL Team This Season

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    Each NFL team has had their fair share of heartbreak this season. It might not have been as obvious for some teams as it has been for other teams, but rest assured,there has been plenty of heartbreak in the 2011 NFL season.

    Whether it was a last-second touchdown, major injury or missed opportunity, here is the most heartbreaking moment for every NFL team this season.

Arizona Cardinals

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Late TD Pass to Hakeem Nicks

    It was only Week 4 of the season, and even though the Arizona Cardinals were only 1-2 heading into the season, they had a chance to get a big win against the heavily-favored New York Giants.

    Arizona took a 27-17 lead with just over five minutes remaining in the game. It looked like Arizona would get to .500, and possibly get their season headed in the right direction.

    However, after a touchdown pass from Eli Manning to Jake Ballard, Manning found Nicks with a little over two minutes in the game to take a 31-27 lead.

    The Cardinals couldn't score again, and that one late touchdown pass sent Arizona to 1-3 on the season. They would lose their next three games and put themselves in a difficult position to make the playoffs.

Atlanta Falcons

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    Heartbreaking Moment: OT Gamble

    In Week 10, the Atlanta Falcons squared off against the New Orleans Saints in a heated divisional game.

    With only seconds left on the clock, Matt Bryant kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime. The Falcons won the coin toss, received the ball and it looked like the game would be theirs.

    However, on a fourth-and-1, Mike Smith decided to go for it and Michael Turner got stuffed for no gain. The Saints got the ball with great field position, kicked a field goal and took a commanding lead in the NFC South.

Baltimore Ravens

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Losing to the Jacksonville Jaguars

    On Monday Night Football, the Baltimore Ravens appeared to have a cupcake game against the Jaguars. 

    This was supposed to be a massacre. Unfortunately, the Ravens sputtered out of the gate. No, that's not quite right. It was more like the Ravens never left the gate and were still in Baltimore until the fourth quarter when they scored their first touchdown of the game.

    It wasn't enough as they lost by a score of 12-7 to the truly awful Jaguars. 

Buffalo Bills

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Fred Jackson Gets Injured

    Not only was Fred Jackson having a breakout year, he was also having an MVP-like season.

    It's truly unfortunate that he suffered a season-ending leg injury, but that is what happened before the Buffalo Bills took on the New York Jets.

    With Jackson on the field, Buffalo had a record of 5-2, and looked ready to make a run at the AFC East crown. After his injury, the Bills have gone 1-7 and are on the outside looking in.

    There might not have been a more game-changing injury this year than Buffalo losing Jackson.

Carolina Panthers

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Third Quarter Against the Green Bay Packers

    The Carolina Panthers were supposed to get cremated by the Packers. No one thought they would get to within 20 points of Green Bay.

    However, they came out sharp in the first quarter, played stifling defense and had a 13-7 lead at halftime. Then the third quarter came. The Packers scored a quick touchdown on a long pass from Aaron Rodgers to Greg Jennings.

    They would go on to kick three more field goals and take a 23-13 lead into the fourth quarter, which Carolina could never come back from. They were so close to a major upset early in the season, but that damn third quarter killed them.

Chicago Bears

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Jay Cutler Gets Injured

    The Chicago Bears were off to a 7-3 start and were looking to make another deep run in the playoffs. Then it happened. On a meaningless late throw, Cutler broke his hand.

    Since the injury, the Bears have lost five straight games, and have looked horrendous. Caleb Hanie was playing so bad that the Bears brought in Josh McCown, who hasn't played football professionally since 2007.

    The injury to Matt Forte was also heartbreaking but not as much as Cutler's injury.

Cincinnati Bengals

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Last Second Loss to the Houston Texans

    After a hot start to the season, the Cincinnati Bengals had cooled down quite a bit heading into their Week 14 matchup against the Texans.

    The Bengals were holding on dearly to a 19-13 lead with just under two minutes remaining in the game. With rookie quarterback T.J. Yates at the helm, it looked like Cincinnati was going to pick up a much needed win.

    Unfortunately, Yates led the Texans on a beautiful 80-yard drive, which was finished off with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Walter with only two seconds left on the clock.

    Neil Rackers would add the extra-point and the Bengals wouldn't get their much needed victory.

Cleveland Browns

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    Heartbreaking Moment: 6-3 Win over Seattle Seahawks

    You may be wondering why a win is the most heartbreaking moment for the Cleveland Browns. Well, let me tell you why.

    It starts with the fact that they only scored six freakin' points. Look, I understand if you struggle against a defense like the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens, but Seattle? Come on.

    I'm also fairly confident that this win showed every other team in the NFL how to beat Cleveland. Since that game, the Browns have a 1-8 record.

Dallas Cowboys

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Week 17 Loss to New York Giants

    This one was for all the marbles and the Dallas Cowboys just came out flat. Sure, they made it close near the end, but it really never appeared like they had a chance.

    The Cowboys appeared to have complete control of the NFC East only a few weeks ago, and now they are out of the playoffs. Why does this always seem to happen to Dallas?

    It could be Tony Romo, but my gut tells me that there will be a lot of changes in Dallas in the offseason.

Denver Broncos

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Tim Tebow Loses to Tom Brady

    Tebow was supposed to be unbeatable. He was supposed to be invincible. And when he walked onto the field against the New England Patriots, he was supposed to win.

    The Denver Broncos were riding an impressive six-game winning streak heading into this contest. They'd gotten themselves back into the playoff picture and were looking to pull away in the AFC West.

    They even jumped out to a 16-7 lead early in the second quarter. However, all good things must come to an end, which is exactly what happened to Tebow and the Broncos.

    New England would go on to score 27 straight points to take a 34-16 lead and eventually win the game 41-23. I think it's safe to say that Brady showed Tebow who is still the man.

Detroit Lions

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Thanksgiving Day Loss to Green Bay Packers

    After years and years of fielding terrible teams on Thanksgiving Day, the Detroit Lions were actually favored by some in their matchup on turkey day against the Packers.

    The teams had a combined record of 17-3 heading into the game. What was expected to be a major shootout turned to be a rather slow starting game. Green Bay held a 7-0 lead at halftime. They turned it on in the third quarter to take a 24-0 lead and the Lions simply couldn't make a comeback.

    This was supposed to be the year that Detroit broke their "Thanksgiving curse," but it turned into heartbreak instead. Also, Ndamukong Suh was suspended for this.

Green Bay Packers

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Jackie Battle's TD Run

    Their game against the Kansas City Chiefs wasn't supposed to derail the Green Bay Packers' attempt at perfection. This was supposed to be an easy victory, a guaranteed blowout.

    Things never work out how they are supposed to though, right? The Packers spent the majority of the game playing from behind, but it still looked like they would have a chance to win late in the fourth quarter.

    Of course, that was until Battle picked up the Chiefs' first touchdown of the game on a short rushing touchdown and closed the book on Green Bay's perfect season.

Houston Texans

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Injury to Matt Schaub

    Even though the Houston Texans are going to the playoffs for the first time in team history, they really can't be too excited about it. The truth is that T.J. Yates isn't scaring any playoff-caliber team these days.

    Now, if it was Schaub on the field, that would be a whole different story. Before his season-ending injury, Schaub was leading one of the most high-powered offenses in the league.

    Now that he's gone, the Texans have definitely slowed down in the offensive categories. Houston's season basically went down the drain when Schaub got injured. 

    If that isn't heartbreaking, tell me what is.

Indianapolis Colts

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Peyton Manning Not Starting Week 1

    Entering the 2011 season, Manning had started for the Indianapolis Colts in 208-straight games. That is why him not starting in Week 1 was so heartbreaking for Indianapolis.

    Would the Colts be in the playoffs if Manning was on the field? Probably not, but that is beside the point. Few teams would be able to lose their franchise's greatest player for a season and be productive. That's just not how it works.

    Kudos to Indianapolis for not completely giving up and winning some games this year in light of their gigantic loss at the beginning of the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Luke McCown Against the New York Jets

    The season actually started pretty well for the Jacksonville Jaguars. In the season opener, Jacksonville took down the Tennessee Titans. It looked like the season might not be a complete disaster for Jacksonville.

    Well, things didn't go very well the following week against the Jets. In fact, McCown had one of the worst games in NFL history. He finished the game with a 1.8 quarterback rating, four interceptions and only six completions.

    It was at that point that all hope was lost for Jacksonville.

Kansas City Chiefs

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Jamaal Charles Gets Injured

    After a breakout season in 2010, Charles came into the 2011 season ready to become one of the better running backs in the NFL.

    That wasn't able to happen as Charles was knocked out of the season in only the second game of the year. While the Kansas City Chiefs were looking very good with Charles on the field, they looked even worse without him.

    It's been an up-and-down year for Kansas Citymostly siding on the down sidebut one can only think what would have been had Charles been healthy.

Miami Dolphins

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Beating the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 9

    Just hear me out for a second. 

    I think it would be safe to say that the Miami Dolphins' biggest need is at the quarterback position. So, sitting at 0-7 with Andrew Luck in their sights seemed like a pretty good situation.

    However, the Dolphins had to go out and beat the Chiefs in Week 9 and ultimately take themselves out of the running for Luck.

    Now, it's possible that they'll be stuck with Matt Moore for another year or throw an unprepared rookie out onto the field in 2012.

Minnesota Vikings

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    Heartbreaking Moment: OT Loss to Detroit Lions in Week 3

    Heading into the second half with a 20-0 lead seemed like a pretty sweet situation for the Minnesota Vikings against Detroit.

    They had been efficient on offense and were doing a great job at slowing down Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. Then it all kind of fell apart for Minnesota.

    First, it was one touchdown from Stafford to Johnson. Then, it was another touchdown from Stafford to Johnson. Finally, it was a Jason Hanson 32-yard field goal in overtime to seal an impressive comeback victory for Detroit.

    Losing in that fashion to a rival is always heartbreaking.

New England Patriots

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Myra Kraft Passes Away

    This didn't technically happen during the season, but losing the owner's wife to cancer right before the season still counts in my book.

    Myra Kraft was beloved by all of the New England Patriots. For the entire 2011 season the players have worn a patch bearing Myra's initials.

New Orleans Saints

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Last Second Loss on Opening Night

    The New Orleans Saints were down by eight at the goal line with only one play remaining against the Green Bay Packers in the first game of the season.

    Instead of giving the ball to Drew Brees, who had been dominating all night, Sean Payton decided to give the ball to rookie Mark Ingram. It was one of the most questionable calls of the entire season.

    Ingram was stuffed for no gain and the Saints lost. Of course, New Orleans has rebounded nicely, winning 13 of their last 15 games, but a opening-season loss still hurt.

New York Giants

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Last-Minute Field Goal by Mason Crosby

    In a Week 13 matchup between the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers Eli Manning threw a touchdown pass to Hakeem Nicks with less than a minute in the fourth quarter to tie the game.

    The game should have gone to overtime, but Aaron Rodgers had something else in mind. Rodgers led the Packers down the field and Crosby kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to win the game.

    The loss sent the Giants to a 6-6 record, and at that time, it appeared as if New York would miss out on the playoffs.

New York Jets

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Final Loss to the Miami Dolphins

    This year wasn't the best of years for the New York Jets. They just never looked as good as they have in years past. In fact, both their offense and defense were terrible down the stretch.

    Even with two straight losses heading into Sunday's game, the Jets still had a good chance to make the playoffs. They had an easy last game against the Dolphins and were expected to win.

    They came out and started the game well but eventually faded. Miami scored 16 straight points to put the game out of reach.

    New York will be sitting at home for the playoffs for the first time with Mark Sanchez and Rex Ryan on their sidelines.

Oakland Raiders

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    Heartbreaking Moment: The Death of a Legend

    It certainly can't be easy to lose a member of your franchise during the season. It must be even harder when the person that passes away has been the face of the franchise and has led the franchise since 1966.

    On October 8th, Al Davis, the owner for the Oakland Raiders, passed away. In one of the greatest moments of the season, the Raiders came out the following day and won for Al.

Philadelphia Eagles

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    Heartbreaking Moment: The "Dream Team" Isn't So Dreamy

    It's hard to put an exact date on when the self-prophesied "Dream Team" fell flat on their face, but their fourth loss in five games seems like a good starting point.

    This loss happened to come against the upstart Buffalo Bills in Week 5. While their first three losses of the season could be handled, this loss seemed to crush the Philadelphia Eagles.

    They eventually recovered to finish the season at .500, but that is a far, far ways from where they were expected to finish at the start of the season.

Pittsburgh Steelers

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Joe Flacco Finds Torrey Smith for the Win

    The Pittsburgh Steelers had already lost earlier in the season to the Baltimore Ravens, and they were looking for revenge in their Week 9 matchup.

    They held onto a 20-16 lead with with only seconds remaining. Then the unthinkable happened.

    Smith got behind safety Ryan Clark, Flacco threw a perfect pass and the Ravens took the lead with only eight seconds left in the game.

    It was a heartbreaking loss indeed as the Steelers were basically guaranteed to only get a wild-card spot from this game.

San Diego Chargers

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    Heartbreaking Moment: The San Diego Chargers Get Tebowed

    Heading into Week 12 on a five-game losing streak, the Chargers were looking like they would finally get a win against the Denver Broncos.

    They were up 13-10 in the fourth quarter when Tim Tebow led a two-minute drive to set up a game-tying field goal. Matt Prater would hit the 24-yard attempt and send the game into overtime.

    In overtime, both teams went back-and-forth until Tebow once again led a late drive which ended in another Prater field goal with only 29 seconds left in the game.

    The Chargers got Tebowed, and there is nothing more heartbreaking than that.

San Francisco 49ers

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Losing to the Arizona Cardinals

    No one expected the Cardinals to beat the San Francisco 49ers in their Week 14 matchup. Even if someone did (which they absolutely didn't), they certainly didn't think Arizona would win when they were down 19-7 in the third quarter.

    However, John Skelton led two scoring drives to give Arizona a 21-19 lead, and their defense held on for the last 12 minutes of the fourth quarter.

    It was the 49ers' second loss in three weeks, and cast some major doubts upon this Super Bowl contender.

Seattle Seahawks

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Signing Tarvaris Jackson

    Once again, this heartbreaking moment didn't take place during the course of the season, but rather, it happened in the offseason.

    Still, the Seattle Seahawks deciding to sign Jackson was rather heartbreaking. Anyone who watched Jackson play this year saw that there was no way that he is the quarterback of the future for Seattle.

    At this point, it seems like the Seahawks wasted a bunch of money on a player who won't win them any games.

St. Louis Rams

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Patrick Peterson's Return in OT

    Everyone knew that Peterson was an exciting playmaker coming out of college, but I don't think anyone thought he would be this dynamic this quick.

    In his first matchup against the St. Louis Rams, Peterson took back a punt 99 yards for a touchdown in overtime. This return sent Peterson into the "Don't Punt to Him" category, and sent the Rams into the bottom of power rankings everywhere.

    Considering the Rams were coming off a win over the New Orleans Saints and looking to turn their season around, I'd say this play was quite heartbreaking.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Tampa Bay Buccaneers Lose Their 10th Straight Game

    There is no team in the NFL that has failed to live up to expectations as much as the Buccaneers have this year.

    This was a team that was expected to take the next step and make the playoffs this year. Unfortunately, they took about 50 steps backwards and finished the season on a 10-game losing streak.

    Their last loss of the season to the Atlanta Falcons saw them give up 42 straight points in the first half. It doesn't get much worse than that.

    The entire 2011 season was heartbreaking for Tampa Bay, but this game showed just how terrible of shape this team is truly in.

Tennessee Titans

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Tennessee Titans Pay Chris Johnson to Run for 24 Yards

    In a long offseason holdout, the Titans finally agreed to pay Johnson a huge sum of money to get back on the field and do what he does bestrun for lots of yards.

    Well, Johnson did get back on the field in Week 1, but run for many yards is not what he did. In fact, he only ran for 24 yards on nine carries for a whopping 2.7 yards per attempt average.

    The season did eventually improve for Johnson, but it took a long time and left many people wondering whether or not he was worth all the money Tennessee threw in his lap.

Washington Redskins

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    Heartbreaking Moment: Rex Grossman Is Week 1 Starter

    I'll give Grossman credit because he did have a rather spectacular performance in Week 1, but come on, it's Rex Grossman. He doesn't deserve to start for a team in the Canadian Football League.

    To see the Washington Redskins go from Jason Campbell to a washed-up Donovan McNabb to the worst quarterback ever in Grossman must have been a hard pill to swallow for fans.

    Over the course of the year, Grossman became his old self by throwing plenty of interceptions and losing his starting job to John Beck.

    Poor Washington.