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What was the Steelers most gut-wrenching loss?

The Steelers have had a number of a late-game heroics in the Super Bowl era, but sometimes they were on the wrong end of close finishes.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Oakland Raiders Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday, my sister shared with me a video of a high school baseball game for the state championship in New York. With the away team up by one run in the bottom of the last inning and two outs, they appeared to get the game-winning strike out to clinch the title. But the catcher dropped the ball and was ruled he did not tag the runner. While the visiting team was celebrating their victory and the ball lay helplessly on the field, two runners came home to score to change the outcome of the game.

What a way to lose.

Being immersed in the Steelers 365 days a year, I began to think back at some of the closest games I can remember where the outcome changed in the final moments. Although the Steelers have been on the right end of these types of plays over the years, it is not always the case. Yes, there is the Immaculate Reception, the catch in the corner in Super Bowl XLIII, the Christmas Day Extension, and the walk off touchdown over Green Bay which seem they can’t be matched. But occasionally the Steelers have been on the wrong side of things.

This got me thinking… what was the Steelers most gut wrenching loss you ever witnessed?

I’m not talking about dropping games 51–0 or 38–3, I’m talking about games where the Steelers seemed like they were poised to have a victory, send a game to overtime, or have a chance to win otherwise only to have it struck down in a moment. So which one of these types of games were the worst?

The answer for each of you may be very different. I’m going to discuss three games that stood out the most specifically for me. Although you can chose any games you want, my three are limited to games decided in the final seconds where the Steelers were favored by at least a touchdown.

The Slip Heard ‘Round the World

The year was 2018, and the Steelers were 7–4–1 entering Week 14 looking to hold on to a playoff berth. Traveling to Oakland, California to face the 2–10 Raiders, the Steelers were 10.5-points favorites on the road. Of course, this made Steelers fans nervous as the inevitable trap game was upon them.

As a reminder, Ben Roethlisberger missed most of the second half due to faulty x-ray equipment and Joshua Dobbs struggled going 4 for 9 passing for 24 yards and an interception. With the Steelers were clinging to a four-point lead after scoring a late touchdown with less than three minutes to go in the game after Roethlisberger returned, the Raiders were driving. With 0:25 remaining, the Raiders were faced with a fourth and goal from the 6-yard line. Even though the offense was scrambling with no timeouts remaining, I remember shouting at the television at Bryan Anthony Davis’ house how the Steelers should not take a timeout to allow the offense to reset. Yet that was exactly what they did.

The next play saw the Steelers surrender a touchdown and fall behind with only 0:21 remaining.

After returning the kickoff to the 30-yard line with 0:15 left in the game, the Steelers ran a hook and ladder for 48 yards all the way down to the Oakland 22-yard line. The Steelers had 0:05 left for a 40-yard field goal to send the game to overtime and put themselves in a great position to qualify for the postseason.

That’s when things fall apart even more.

On the attempted field goal, Chris Boswell completely wiped out on the Oakland Coliseum turf and the attempt struck his own lineman as the Steelers fell in defeat.

Mike Glennon of All People

In 2014, I was in attendance at Heinz Field to watch the Pittsburgh Steelers take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. After the Steelers came out completely flat and were down 10-0 less than five minutes into the game, a pair of Antonio Brown touchdowns had the Steelers leading at halftime. Although the Buccaneers tied it up in the third quarter, the Steelers took a seven-point lead into the fourth. Holding Tampa Bay to a short field goal on their first possession of the fourth quarter had the Steelers holding a four-point lead.

After the Steelers next drive stalled at the Tampa Bay 45-yard line, it appeared the Buccaneers would be pinned deep in their own territory. But a facemask on the punt gave Tampa Bay some breathing room to start the drive at their 25-yard line. Moving all the way down to the Steelers 14-yard line with less than two minutes remaining, the Steelers came up with a big stop and the Heinz Field faithful foolishly began ushering out the gates.

Knowing that the Buccaneers still had two timeouts, I knew that the game was not over. The Steelers did not manage a first down only to have Brad Wing shank the punt for only 29 yards.

Starting their final drive in Pittsburgh territory at the 46-yard line, Mike Glennon completed a 41-yard pass on the second play putting the ball at the Steelers 5-yard line. Having to spike the ball to stop the clock, the Buccaneers second down pass fell incomplete. But with 0:12 left, Glennon found Vincent Jackson in the front corner of the end zone for the touchdown and the last-second lead. After a touchback on the kickoff, the Steelers were unsuccessful on a multi-lateral play in desperation.

You Got Tebowed

I am not going into this one very much. The Steelers were at 7.5-point favorites going into Denver in their Wild Card game as they were 12–4 and yet had to travel to the 8–8 AFC West champions. Trailing by 10 points their first possession of the fourth quarter, the Steelers came back to tie the game with just under four minutes remaining. With neither team able to score on their final possession of regulation, the game went to overtime and it was the first opportunity for the new NFL rule where both teams would have a chance to possess the ball in overtime if the team getting the ball first kicked a field goal. The new rule never came into play as on the first play from scrimmage in overtime saw Tim Tebow hit Demaryius Thomas for a catch-and-run 80-yard touchdown to end the Steelers season.

So there are my three most gut-wrenching defeats of the Steelers which hit me the most. Do you have other games to throw into the mix such as the Great Gradkowski (2009), the Scobee Debacle (2015), or the Runaway Cowboy (2016)? Which one was the worst gut-wrenching defeat for you? Since misery loves company, make sure you leave your thoughts in the comments below.