NFL: The Most Heartbreaking Playoff Losses for Every NFL Team (Super Bowl Era)
For 31 other teams, they can only hope that next year's season will end the way the Giants' did this year.
From the very beginning of every season, every NFL team and their fanbase hope to end their season by raising the Lombardi Trophy.
But when it comes down to it, there can only be one team that can call themselves Super Bowl champions.
There is no such thing as a good loss in the NFL, and in the playoffs, that could not be more true.
The playoffs each year bring the hopes and dreams to players and fans of potentially winning a Super Bowl. However, a loss in the playoffs can bring haunting memories to an organization for years.
During the Super Bowl era, all the current NFL teams have one thing in common—they have suffered heartbreaking playoff defeats in their history.
Arizona Cardinals: Super Bowl XLIII
Date: Feb.1, 2009
Location: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Playoff Round: Super Bowl XLIII
After finishing with a mark of 9-7 in a weak NFC West, the 2008 Arizona Cardinals weren't expected to advance to Super Bowl XLIII. Well, they did just that.
With a win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cardinals would not only win their first Super Bowl, but also complete one of the greatest Cinderella stories in all of sports.
Despite a sluggish start in the game, Arizona stormed back in the fourth quarter behind former NFL MVP Kurt Warner, when he connected with Larry Fitzgerald for a 64-yard touchdown reception that gave Arizona their first lead of the game at 23-20 with under three minutes to play.
Despite giving up the lead late, Pittsburgh came storming back.
With 35 seconds to play, Santonio Holmes made one of the greatest catches in NFL history in the back of the end zone to give Pittsburgh the lead for good.
Arizona lost, 27-23.
Atlanta Falcons: 1980-81 NFC Divisional Round
Date: Jan. 4, 1981
Location: Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Playoff Round: 1980-81 NFC Divisional Round
In 1980, the Atlanta Falcons clinched their first division title, finishing 12-4. The four losses were all in close games, losing by one, three, seven and three points. This team was solid.
Although the 1998 Falcons lost in the Super Bowl and had more wins, there was nothing heartbreaking as they were completely outplayed by Denver.
However, the loss the Falcons suffered in the 1980-81 divisional round was nothing but tough.
Going into the fourth quarter, Atlanta led Dallas 24-10, but the Cowboys crept to within three, at 27-24.
Dallas lineman Eddie Jones appeared to have jumped offsides when the Falcons got the ball back, but no call was made. Atlanta then failed to convert on third down and punted the ball away to Dallas.
Dallas then drove 70 yards and took the lead when Drew Pearson made a 23-yard touchdown reception with 47 seconds remaining. However, Dallas botched the snapped on the extra point. This gave Atlanta life.
The Falcons failed to move the ball and turned it over on downs, allowing Dallas to seal the victory.
Atlanta lost to Dallas, 30-27.
Baltimore Ravens: 2011-12 AFC Championship Game
Date: Jan. 22, 2012
Location: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.
Round: 2011-12 AFC Championship Game
The 2011 season was the year that the Ravens seemed to finally get over the hump.
After sweeping the Steelers during the regular season, Baltimore finished 12-4 and locked up the No. 2 seed in the AFC.
Despite a slow start from the Ravens, they only trailed by three at halftime, 13-10. The two teams played a very competitive second half.
However, with the unusual sluggish play from Tom Brady during the game, Baltimore had a chance to win the game late in the fourth quarter.
Baltimore drove the ball down inside the New England 20-yard line. Then, on 2nd-and-1 from the New England 14-yard line, Flacco looked as if he had connected with Lee Evans for the go-ahead touchdown, but Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore knocked the ball out of Evans' hands.
Following an incompletion on 3rd-and-1, the Ravens sent out kicker Billy Cundiff for a 32-yard field-goal attempt to tie the game.
The kick sailed wide left and shocked everyone. Billy Cundiff will now be forever mentioned with the likes of Scott Norwood and Gary Anderson. Hopefully, Cundiff will get a chance at redemption.
Baltimore lost, 23-20.
Buffalo Bills: Super Bowl XXV
Date: Jan. 27, 1991
Location: Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Round: Super Bowl XXV
Wide Right. Scott Norwood.
If you say those four words to any true Buffalo Bills fan, they may end up punching you in the mouth. If you know anything about the Bills, you may not blame them for doing so.
Super Bowl XXV pitted in-state rivals against each other, each fighting for football's richest prize.
The Giants took the lead 20-19 after their drive stalled at the Bills' three-yard line with 7:20 to go in the game.
Following a Giants punt, Jim Kelly led the Bills down the field and got the ball to the New York 30-yard line with eight seconds remaining.
This set up a 47-yard field-goal attempt for Buffalo.
Enter kicker Scott Norwood.
However, this would lead to the start of the Bills' Super Bowl curse, as Norwood's kick would sail wide right.
Buffalo lost, 20-19.
Carolina Panthers: Super Bowl XXXVIII
Date: Feb. 1, 2004
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
Round: Super Bowl XXXVIII
In 2001 the Carolina Panthers went 1-15.
Just two years later, the team finished 11-5 and won their first division title.
After winning their first NFC South title, the Panthers then made a Cinderella run all the way to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
They matched up with the New England Patriots in that year's game.
Super Bowl XXXVIII is arguably the best Super Bowl of all time. The teams went blow-for-blow throughout the entire contest.
With 1:08 remaining in the fourth quarter, Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme connected with Ricky Proehl from 12 yards out. The extra point from John Kasay tied the game at 29.
On the ensuing kickoff, Kasay kicked the ball out of bounds. This mistake gave Tom Brady and the Patriots the ball at their own 40-yard line.
Then, on a critical 3rd-and-3 from the Carolina 40-yard line, Brady connected with Deion Branch for a gain of 17 yards.
On the next play, Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri successfully kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left. Carolina was unable to execute a miracle on the kickoff and time expired.
Carolina lost, 32-29.
Chicago Bears: 1986-87 NFC Divisional Round
Date: Jan. 3, 1987
Location: Soldier Field, Chicago, Illinois
Round: 1986-87 NFC Divisional Round
The 1985 Chicago Bears went 15-1 and won that year's Super Bowl.
They were possibly the greatest team in NFL history.
The 1986 Bears were expected by many to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, going 14-2 and becoming the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs.
None of this mattered to the 1986 Washington Redskins, who traveled to Soldier Field as underdogs.
The Bears led the Redskins 13-7 at halftime. However, that was the last lead the Bears would hold. Chicago was shut out in the second half by Washington's defense.
Key turnovers from quarterback Doug Flutie and halfback Walter Payton all but doomed Chicago, as they completely fell apart in the second half.
Chicago lost, 27-13.
Cincinnati Bengals: Super Bowl XXIII
Date: Jan. 22, 1989
Location: Joe Robbie Stadium, Miami, Florida
Round: Super Bowl XXIII
The 1988-89 Cincinnati Bengals were 15 minutes away from their first Super Bowl title.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Bengals led San Francisco 13-6. But once the fourth quarter started, the 49ers flipped the switch and looked like the awesome 1988 team they had been all season.
After falling behind 13-6, San Francisco orchestrated a four-play, 85-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown, tying the game at 13-13.
Later in the fourth quarter, Cincinnati took the lead with a field goal and led 16-13 with 3:26 remaining.
But with more than three minutes left, this allowed Joe Montana to do his thing.
He led an 11-play, 92-yard drive, that ended with a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 39 seconds remaining in the game.
Cincinnati was unable to do anything with the limited time that remained, and lost, 20-16.
Cleveland Browns: 1986-87 AFC Championship Game
Date: Jan. 11, 1987
Location: Cleveland Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Round: 1986-87 AFC Championship
The Cleveland Browns have been a franchise that has never had Lady Luck on their side. This could not have been more true than in the 1986-87 AFC championship against the Denver Broncos.
The Drive—two words that make any Cleveland Browns fan want to vomit.
Denver quarterback John Elway led his team down the field from their own two-yard line. Then, with 37 seconds to go, Elway connected with Mark Jackson for a five-yard touchdown reception. The extra point from Rich Karlis tied the game at 20.
In overtime, following a Cleveland punt, Elway led his Broncos 60 yards down the field to set up a 33-yard field-goal attempt.
On came Karlis. His kick was good.
Since that kick, the Browns have never been closer to a Super Bowl berth.
Cleveland lost, 23-20.
Dallas Cowboys: 1981-82 NFC Championship Game
Date: Jan. 10, 1982
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Round: 1981-82 NFC Championship
The Catch. Joe Montana to Dwight Clark.
This play may be the most famous play in NFL history.
To Cowboys fans, it may be the most heartbreaking. The Cowboys were playing for a trip to the Super Bowl against one of their most fierce rivals, the San Francisco 49ers, in the 1981-82 NFC championship.
The game was back-and-forth throughout its entirety.
With less than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Clark came from out of nowhere to haul in the pass from Montana, and "The Catch" has was born. The extra point gave the 49ers the lead for good, and ended the Cowboys' season.
Dallas lost, 28-27.
Denver Broncos: 1996-97 AFC Divisional Round
Date: Jan. 4, 1997
Location: Mile High Stadium, Denver, Colo.
Round: 1996-97 AFC Divisional Round
After finishing 13-3 during the regular season, the 1996 Denver Broncos had high Super Bowl hopes going into the playoffs.
They were the No. 1 seed in the AFC, and in the divisional round, they were highly favored against a young Jacksonville Jaguars team.
But someone forgot to tell Denver that they still had a game to play.
After storming out to an early 12-0 lead, everything seemed to going Denver's way—until the start of the second quarter, as the Jaguars responded with 13 unanswered points.
Denver trailed by 13-12 at halftime.
After being handled by Jacksonville's defense, Denver would not score in the third quarter.
In the fourth, Denver eventually cut the lead to 23-20, but Jacksonville would respond by scoring another touchdown.
With less than two minutes remaining, Denver would score again to make it a three-point game at 30-27. However, Denver failed to recover the ensuing onside kick, which wrapped up the monumental upset.
Denver lost to Jacksonville, 30-27.
Detroit Lions: NFC Divisional Round 1983-84
Date: December 31, 1983
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Round: NFC Divisional Round 1983-84
The 1983-84 NFC divisional round pitted two division winners against each other, as Detroit traveled to San Francisco.
After three quarters of play, Detroit was still in the game, as they trailed San Francisco 17-9 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Detroit finally punched the ball in the end zone for the first time in the fourth quarter behind halfback Billy Sims. Later in quarter, Sims would score his second touchdown of the game, giving Detroit a 23-17 lead.
Despite Detroit taking the lead, the 49ers came storming back behind six straight completions from quarterback Joe Montana, culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Solomon. The PAT gave the 49ers a late 24-23 lead.
However, Detroit quarterback Gary Danielson then completed four passes that got the Lions in field-goal range. This brought out Eddie Murray to attempt a 43-yard field goal. Murray's kick was no good as time expired, thus giving San Francisco the win.
Detroit lost to San Francisco, 24-23.
Green Bay Packers: Super Bowl XXXII
Date: January 25th, 1998
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.
Round: Super Bowl XXXII
Had it not been for a loss in Super Bowl XXXIII, Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers would have won their second consecutive Super Bowl Championship. Had Green Bay won Super Bowl XXXII, Brett Favre may have retired way earlier than he actually did.
All in all, Super Bowl XXXII featured the Denver Broncos against the defending Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers.
At halftime, the heavily-favored Green Bay Packers trailed Denver, 17-14. Despite trailing, an early Denver turnover allowed Green Bay to quickly tie the game at 17.
Later in the second half, Green Bay would again tie the game this time at 24 apiece.
Late in the fourth, a crucial 15-yard face-mask penalty by Packers linebacker Darius Holland moved the ball to the Green Bay 32-yard line. The great field position enabled the Broncos to get the ball inside the Green Bay 10-yard line.
Then on 2nd-and-goal, Packers head coach Mike Holmgren told his defense to let the Broncos score on the next play to try and utilize the remaining time for his offense. The Packers defense would then let Terrell Davis score from one yard out, giving Denver a 31-24 lead.
Green Bay's offense would be unable to score on their next possession, allowing Denver to win their first Super Bowl Championship.
Green Bay lost to Denver, 31-24.
Houston Texans: AFC Divisional Round 2011-12
Date: January 15th, 2012
Location: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore, Maryland
Round: AFC Divisional Round 2011-12
Despite a plethora of injuries, the Houston Texans clinched their first division championship during the 2011 season, thus clinching their first playoff berth in franchise history.
After defeating the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Wild Card Round, the Texans faced the Ravens in the AFC divisional round.
Houston fell behind early, 17-3, after the first quarter, but at halftime they found themselves only down by four, at 17-13. But the Texans would fail to put up any points in the second half.
Houston's defense only held Baltimore to three points in the second half, but Houston couldn't sustain any offense, and three interceptions from quarterback T.J. Yates doomed the Texans.
Houston lost to Baltimore, 20-13.
Indianapolis Colts: Super Bowl III
Date: January 12th, 1969
Location: Miami Orange Bowl, Miami, Fla.
Round: Super Bowl III
Before they were known as the Indianapolis Colts, the Colts called the city of Baltimore, Maryland home.
The 1968 season from the Baltimore Colts was one of the most dominant seasons in NFL history, as they compiled a 13-1 regular-season record.
It was because of their dominant regular season and convincing victories in the conference championship and NFL championship, that the Colts were 18-point favorites against the New York Jets in Super Bowl III.
However, the dominant Colts team from that season forgot to show up at Super Bowl III.
The New York Jets defense dominated Baltimore in the first half, and their dominance continued into the second half. Baltimore would score their only points of the game in the fourth quarter, but by then it was already too late for Baltimore, as they fell 16-7 to the Jets.
Baltimore (Indianapolis) lost to New York, 17-6.
Jacksonville Jaguars: AFC Championship Game 1999-00
Date: January 23rd, 2000
Location: ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Fla.
Round: AFC Championship Game 1999-00
The 1999 regular season remains the best year in franchise history for the Jacksonville Jaguars. Behind the likes of quarterback Mark Brunell and running back Fred Taylor, the Jaguars finished the regular season at 14-2 and clinched the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs.
After completely humiliating the Miami Dolphins by the score of 62-7 in the AFC divisional round, Jacksonville hosted the Tennessee Titans in the AFC championship game.
Both of Jacksonville's regular-season losses came against Tennessee. So going into the AFC title game, Jacksonville was looking for some revenge in their quest to clinch their first Super Bowl berth.
Jacksonville started the game strong and led 14-10 at halftime. But the Jaguars did not show up in the second half, as they committed four second-half turnovers. Jacksonville was shut out in the second half, as the late Steve McNair would lead Tennessee to 23 second-half points and Tennessee's first Super Bowl berth.
The Jaguars were left with the heartbreak of losing only three times that season, with all those losses coming at the hands of the Tennessee Titans.
Jacksonville lost to Tennessee, 33-14.
Kansas City Chiefs: AFC Divisional Round 1995-96
Date: January 7th, 1996
Location: Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, Missouri
Round: AFC Divisional Round 1995-96
The 1995 Kansas City Chiefs finished the 1995 regular season with NFL's best record at 13-3. The whole city had high hopes of a trip to that year's Super Bowl. They never thought they would have been ousted in the AFC divisional round, but that's what happened to that year's Kansas City Chiefs.
Everything started out fine for Kansas City, as the Chiefs scored the game's first points and led Indianapolis 7-0 after the first quarter.
Despite the early lead, anything that could go wrong for Kansas City beyond the first quarter went wrong.
The Chiefs would turn the ball over four times, and at times looked very sluggish on offense.
But despite all the missed opportunities, Kansas City had a chance to tie the game at 10, with 37 seconds left. But placekicker Linn Elliott missed his third field goal of the game from 42 yards out, which sealed the fate of the Chiefs.
Kansas City lost to Indianapolis, 10-7.
Miami Dolphins: AFC Divisional Round 1994-95
Date: January 8th, 1995
Location: Jack Murphy Stadium,San Diego, Calif.
Round: AFC Divisional Round 1994-95
The 1994 Miami Dolphins had a solid regular season by winning their division and finishing with a 10-6 record.
After a strong showing against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Wild Card Round, the Dolphins traveled to San Diego to take on the Chargers.
From the get-go, everything seemed too easy for Miami. Quarterback Dan Marino threw three touchdown passes in the first half, and Miami led 21-6 at halftime.
Despite being down 15 points, San Diego showed up in the second half. Their defense dominated Miami in the second half, which allowed San Diego to rally. The Chargers took their first lead of the game with only 35 seconds remaining at 22-21.
Although Miami had not scored in the half, they got within field-goal range with just seconds remaining in the game. If kicker Pete Stoyanovich could connect from 48 yards out, Miami would be going to the AFC championship game. Unfortunately for Miami, Stoyanovich's kick was wide right.
Miami lost to San Diego, 22-21.
Minnesota Vikings: NFC Championship Game 2009-10
Date: January 24th, 2010
Location: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Round: NFC Championship Game 2009-10
The 2009 regular season for Minnesota Vikings fans seems like it was decades ago. Just two years ago this team was playing for a berth in the Super Bowl, and now they have the No. 3 pick in the NFL draft following perhaps the worst season in franchise history in 2011.
Despite this, the 2009 season for the Minnesota Vikings was one the franchise's best. Going 12-4 behind future Hall of Famer Brett Favre, the Vikings had themselves in position to set up for a game-winning field goal against the New Orleans Saints in that year's NFC championship game.
Following a penalty for having too many men in the huddle, the Vikings elected to run a pass play to try and gain some yardage for their kicker Ryan Longwell.
On 3rd-and-15, Favre rolled to his right, and with an open field in front of him, he elected to throw across his body and try and reach his favorite target, Sidney Rice. The pass ended up in the arms of Saints defender Tracy Porter. The Saints then drained the clock, won the coin toss in overtime and kicked the eventual game-winner to send them to their first Super Bowl.
Minnesota lost to New Orleans, 31-28 (OT).
New England Patriots: Super Bowl XLII
Date: February 3rd, 2008
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Round: Super Bowl XLII
The elusive perfect season—a feat that has only once been done by the 1972 Miami Dolphins. However, the 2007 Patriots looked like they were going to become the second team to do so.
After completing the first 16-0 regular season, the 2007 New England Patriots were victorious over the Jaguars in the divisional round and then defeated the San Diego Chargers in the AFC championship game. The Patriots were one win away from the perfect season. They matched up against the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII—a Giants team they defeated in Week 17 of the regular season.
After a touchdown pass from Tom Brady to Randy Moss late in the fourth quarter, New England was 2:42 away from a perfect season.
However, the Giants were here to spoil any dreams the Patriots had. After converting some critical first downs, the Giants had the ball on their own 44-yard line on 3rd-and-5. When Eli Manning scrambled to find David Tyree for a 32-yard reception in what was arguably the greatest play in the history of the league, the play set up the eventual game-winning touchdown that gave New York the lead for good, and their third Super Bowl Championship.
New England lost to New York, 17-14.
New Orleans Saints: NFC Divisional Round 2011-12
Date: January 14th, 2012
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Round: NFC Divisional Round 2011-12
You have really got to feel for Saints fans—two years removed from a Super Bowl Championship, and they have suffered from one of the biggest upsets in NFL history against the Seattle Seahawks in the 10-11 NFC Wild Card Round, then suffered another heartbreaking loss this past postseason.
The 2011-12 NFC divisional game between the Saints and 49ers was one of the most exciting playoff games in NFL history.
There were multiple lead changes in the game's final five minutes. The Saints took a three-point lead with 1:37 left in the game.
With the ball, 49ers quarterback Alex Smith connected with tight end Vernon Davis for a gain of 47 yards. A couple of plays later, Smith connected with Davis again for the game-winning touchdown.
New Orleans lost to San Francisco, 36-32.
New York Giants: NFC Wild Card Round 2002-03
Date: January 5th, 2003
Location: 3Com Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Round: NFC Wild Card Round 2002-03
Being up 38-14 with 4:27 to go in the third quarter would make most people think a game was over. I'm sure most New York Giants fans thought the same thing during the 2002-03 NFC Wild Card Game.
New York had dominated San Francisco from the beginning, but it's not how you start, it's how you finish.
San Fransisco rallied for 25 points in the second half and took their first lead of the game with one minute remaining in regulation.
Giants quarterback Kerry Collins would use the remaining time to his advantage, driving the Giants down to the San Francisco 23-yard line.
However, long snapper Mark Junkin would botch the snap, which resulted in New York not being able to get off a field-goal attempt. The play led to a desperate throw downfield which fell incomplete.The officials then failed to call a pass-interference penalty on the play, and the game ended.
New York lost to San Francisco, 39-38.
New York Jets: AFC Divisional Round 1986-87
Date: January 3rd, 1987
Location: Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Round: AFC Divisional Round 1986-87
The 1986 New York Jets started the 1986 season 10-1, before losing their final five games.
Despite the losing streak, New York still qualified for the AFC playoffs as a wild-card team.
In the playoffs, New York snapped their losing streak by defeating Kansas City 35-15 in the Wild Card Round.
This set up a divisional matchup against the Cleveland Browns. New York seemed to have the game in hand with 4:14 remaining, as the Jets led Cleveland 20-10. Then came one of the more epic collapses in NFL playoff history.
First came the roughing-the-passer penalty, as Jets lineman Mark Gastineau laid out Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar. The penalty aided Cleveland, as the drive would result with a touchdown.
Then came a quick stop by Cleveland's defense, and Cleveland scored a game-tying field goal with seven seconds remaining.
Any momentum New York once had was gone heading into overtime. Cleveland would win the game in double OT.
New York lost to Cleveland, 23-20 (2OT).
Oakland Raiders: AFC Divisional Round 1972-73
Date: December 23rd, 1972
Location: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Round: AFC Divisional Round 1972-73
For Raiders fans, there is the tuck rule and then there is the immaculate reception.
In the 1972-73 AFC divisional round, the Oakland Raiders found themselves in a defensive battle with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Pittsburgh led Oakland 6-0 until Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler ran for a 30-yard touchdown run, giving Oakland a 7-6 lead following the PAT.
It was all but over for the Steelers when, facing a 4th-and-10 from their own 40-yard line, quarterback Terry Bradshaw threw a pass intended for John Fuqua.
Fuqua was hit by Oakland safety Jack Tatum, and the hit propelled the ball into the arms of Pittsburgh halfback Franco Harris, who then ran into the end zone for the game-winning score.
Oakland lost to Pittsburgh, 12-7.
Philadelphia Eagles: Super Bowl XXXIX
Date: February 6th, 2005
Location: ALLTEL Stadium, Jacksonville, Florida
Round: Super Bowl XXXIX
Following three straight defeats in the NFC championship game, the 2004 Philadelphia Eagles made it a mission to get to Super Bowl XXXIX. They finally made it over the hump in 2004, and advanced to the franchise's second Super Bowl to face the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots.
The Eagles tried to keep up with Tom Brady and the Patriots, however three interceptions from Donovan McNabb were too much for the Eagles to overcome. They fell victim to the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.
Philadelphia lost to New England, 24-21.
Pittsburgh Steelers: AFC Championship Game 1994-95
Date: January 15th, 1995
Location: Three Rivers Stadium, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Round: AFC Championship Game 1994-95
The 1994-95 AFC Championship game that pitted Pittsburgh against San Diego, had the Steelers as heavy favorites. Despite being the underdogs, the Chargers were determined to earn their first trip to the Super Bowl.
At halftime, Pittsburgh led San Diego 10-3. However, the Chargers would come alive in the second half. They rallied from a second-half, 13-3 deficit. The San Diego defense would hold Pittsburgh to only a field goal in the third quarter. Then in the fourth, San Diego quarterback Stan Humphries connected with tight end Alfred Pupunu for a 43-yard touchdown reception to take a 17-13 lead.
Pittsburgh would then march the ball down into San Diego territory in the game's final moments. It was then, on a 4th-and-goal with just over a minute remaining, that San Diego linebacker Dennis Gibson batted down Neil O'Donnell's intended pass for running back Barry Foster, which clinched the game for San Diego.
Pittsburgh lost to San Diego, 17-13.
San Diego Chargers: AFC Divisional Round 2006-07
Date: January 14th, 2007
Location: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, Calif.
Round: AFC Divisional Round 2006-07
Despite going 14-2 and having NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson, San Diego's playoff woes continued in the 2006-07 AFC divisional round against the New England Patriots.
San Diego led New England at halftime 14-10, and everything was looking good for the Chargers.
Then in the fourth, San Diego was up 21-13 with New England driving, and Tom Brady threw an interception on a fourth-down conversion attempt. The interception made by Marlon McCree was then stripped of the ball and New England recovered, allowing the drive to continue.
With this second chance, Tom Brady connected with Reche Caldwell for a four-yard touchdown reception. The ensuing two point conversion was successful and New England had tied the game at 21.
Following a San Diego punt, New England would take the lead after Stephen Gostkowski made his third field goal of the game to give New England the lead at 24-21.
San Diego would drive down the field and have a chance to tie the game, but Nate Kaeding missed from 54 yards out with three seconds left, giving New England the win.
San Diego lost to New England, 24-21.
San Francisco 49ers: NFC Championship Game 1990-91
Date: January 20th, 1991
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Round: NFC Championship Game 1990-91
While many 49ers fans are still livid at Kyle Williams for their loss to the Giants in this year's NFC championship game, their loss in the 1990-91 NFC championship was more heartbreaking since it prevented the 49ers from becoming the first NFL team to win three straight Super Bowls.
The 49ers defense played a great game against the Giants, as they held them out of the end zone. Too bad for the 49ers that Matt Bahr made five field goals.
The game itself was purely defensive. The score at halftime was just 6-6.
In the fourth quarter, San Francisco held a 13-12 lead with less than three minutes to play. The 49ers were driving, trying to kill time off the clock and build upon their lead. Everything was fine until Roger Craig fumbled the ball and the Giants recovered.
The Giants would then drive the ball into field-goal range. This set up Matt Bahr's game-winning field goal from 42 yards out that put the Giants into the Super Bowl.
San Francisco lost to New York, 15-13.
Seattle Seahawks: Super Bowl XL
Date: February 5th, 2006
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Round: Super Bowl XL
The 2005 Seattle Seahawks season was the best year in franchise history.
The Seahawks went 13-3 and won their first NFC championship. They matched up against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.
If you mention Super Bowl XL to Seahawks fans, they will tell you about all the calls the referees made that went against them.
From the "push off" by wide receiver Darrell Jackson that nullified a first-half touchdown for Seattle, to a large number of other calls that did not favor Seattle.
The game itself was close at halftime, with Pittsburgh leading 7-3. Then Seattle would respond to an early Pittsburgh touchdown with one of their own, cutting the deficit to 14-10.
However, the amount of penalty calls that went against Seattle did them in, as they fell to Pittsburgh.
Seattle lost to Pittsburgh, 21-10.
St. Louis Rams: Super Bowl XXXVI
Date: February 3rd, 2002
Location: Louisiana Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Round: Super Bowl XXXVI
The 2001 St. Louis Rams posted a franchise-best 14-2 record. To go with it, Kurt Warner won his second MVP award.
After defeating Green Bay and Philadelphia, the Rams advanced to Super Bowl XXXVI as 14-point favorites over the AFC Champion New England Patriots.
The game itself showed that New England was playing with something to prove. They built a 14-3 lead at halftime.
Going into the fourth quarter, New England led St. Louis 17-3.
Despite being down, Kurt Warner rallied St. Louis in the fourth quarter, as they came back to eventually tie the score at 17-17.
Despite having no timeouts, the Patriots elected to play for the win.
Second-year quarterback Tom Brady would lead the Patriots down into St. Louis territory, and New England advanced the ball to the St. Louis 31-yard line.
Then, with seven seconds left, Adam Vinatieri connected on a 48-yard field goal that gave New England their first Super Bowl Championship.
St. Louis lost to New England, 20-17.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: NFC Championship Game 1999-00
Date: January 23rd, 2000
Location: Trans World Dome, St. Louis, Missouri
Round: NFC Championship Game 1999-00
The 1999-00 NFC championship game was a purely defensive game. The Tampa Bay defense held St. Louis to only 11 points.
Late in the fourth quarter, Tampa Bay was driving to take the lead from the Rams.
Quarterback Shaun King led the Tampa Bay offense to the St. Louis 22-yard line. Then on second down, King seemingly completed an 11-yard pass to wide receiver Bert Emmanuel.
The play was originally called a catch, but was controversially overturned on replay review.
The overturned call took away the momentum Tampa Bay had built up.
The next two plays resulted in incompletions, thus turning the ball over to St. Louis. The Rams would then run out the clock to clinch their second Super Bowl berth in franchise history.
Tampa Bay lost to St. Louis, 11-6.
Tennessee Titans: Super Bowl XXXIV
Date: January 30th, 2000
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Round: Super Bowl XXXIV
The 1999 Tennessee Titans season, to this day, is still the best in franchise history. After spending more than 30 years being known as the Oilers, the titans name was created in 1999.
With the name change, came the magical season of the 1999 Tennessee Titans.
After going 13-3 in the regular season, the Titans advanced to Super Bowl XXXIV after victories over the Buffalo Bills, with the Music City Miracle, then defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the divisional round. They then sealed up their first AFC championship with a victory over their division rival Jacksonville Jaguars in that year's AFC championship game.
Next stop was Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta against the St. Louis Rams.
Despite being down 16-0 in the third quarter, Tennessee rallied to tie the game at 16-16 with 2:12 left to go in the game.
Despite this, the Rams would regain the lead on their first play of their next drive when Kurt Warner connected with Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown reception. The Rams led 23-16 when Tennessee got the ball back with 1:48 left in Super Bowl XXXIV.
Titans quarterback Steve McNair would lead Tennessee down to the St. Louis 10-yard line, setting up the final play of the game with six seconds remaining.
McNair connected with Kevin Dyson on the game's final play, however he was tackled one yard short of the goal line by Rams linebacker Mike Jones.
Tennessee lost to St. Louis, 23-16.
Washington Redskins: NFC Divisional Round 1992-93
Date: January 9th, 1993
Location: Candlestick, Park, San Francisco, Calif.
Round: NFC Divisional Round 1992-93
The 1992 Washington Redskins endured an up-and-down season. They were coming off a dominant 1991 season that ended with a Super Bowl Championship, but in 1992, their regular season was not as dominant as their 1991 campaign. Despite the ups and downs, the Redskins finished with a 9-7 record which allowed the defending Super Bowl Champions to enter the playoffs as the sixth seed in the NFC.
Coming off a victory of the Minnesota Vikings in the Wild Card Round, the Redskins traveled up to San Francisco to take on the 49ers.
The defending Super Bowl Champions fell behind early and trailed by 17-3 at halftime. Despite this, Washington made a valiant second-half push.
Washington eventually cut the lead of the 49ers to 17-13. Then in the fourth quarter, with the ball on the San Francisco 23-yard line, Washington looked to have a great shot at taking the lead. However, quarterback Mark Rypien then fumbled the ball back to the 49ers. This allowed San Francisco to drive down the field, consuming more than seven minutes off the clock to set up a field goal that essentially put the game on ice.
Washington lost to San Francisco, 20-13.
Many fans have watched their favorite NFL teams suffer many heartbreaking playoff losses.
The thing that sucks about being an NFL fan is having to watch our favorite teams lose—but it's just a part of sports.
One thing is for certain, though: There will be more heartbreaking losses for teams in the future years to come.
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