Two Pittsburgh losses in December make this list
The NFL season has ended and while we take time to remember the greatest moments, we can also reflect on the craziest endings. What constitutes a crazy ending? Some may say it involves high drama. But to me a crazy ending is one where fans look at each other like they have just watched Apocalypse Now for the first time and say, “Dude, WTF was that?” Here are five endings this that fit that bill.
5. Carolina Panthers 33, New York Giants 31
Oct. 7, 2018 – Week 5 (Charlotte, N.C.)
Graham Gano Boots 63-yard Field Goal to Win Game
The 2-1 Panthers led the 1-3 Giants 27-16 with 11:21 left, but New York was not going home without a fight. Quarterback Eli Manning spearheaded two scoring drives and a 15-yard touchdown pass to Saquon Barkley gave the Giants a 31-30 lead with 1:08 to go. Carolina got the ball back on its own 25-yard line, but could only muster 30 yards on its final drive. No matter. Panthers’ kicker Graham Gano booted a 63-yard field goal as time expired to give his team a 33-31 victory. It also tied for the second-longest field goal in NFL history. (Matt Prater holds the record with a 64-yarder in 2013.)
4. Los Angeles Chargers 20, Tennessee Titans 19
Oct. 21, 2018 – Week 7 (London)
Tennessee Goes for 2 and Loses in London by 1
Los Angeles was 4-2 and Tennessee was 3-3, but on a two-game losing streak when both teams met across the pond. It looked as if the Titans were on their way to three losses in a row when the Chargers went up 17-6 in the third quarter, but the Titans pulled to within one point thanks to a Marcus Mariota touchdown pass to Luke Stocker with 31 seconds remaining. Instead of going for the PAT and sending the game into overtime, Tennessee head coach Mark Vrabel opted for two points. The first attempt, a failed pass to Tajae Sharp, was nullified by a defensive holding penalty. The second was tipped by the Chargers’ Adrian Phillips and Los Angeles was able to leave the United Kingdom with a win. “We wanted to win the game,” said Vrabel. “I am not going to second-guess the call. It just didn’t work out. … I am just trying to do what is best for the team, and trying to find a way to win a football game.” The failed attempt did seem to bring the Titans together as they went 6-3 in their final nine games.
3. Los Angeles Chargers 33, Pittsburgh Steelers 30
Dec. 2, 2018 – Week 13 (Pittsburgh)
Flag-Filled Final FG Attempts Let Chargers Steal One at Heinz Field
Pittsburgh basically killed its playoff hopes over two weeks in December highlighted on this list. The Steelers gave up a 23-7 halftime lead and had to come back in the fourth quarter to tie the Chargers 30-30 with four minutes left. Los Angeles then drove 54 yards to set up a 39-yard field goal with three seconds on the clock but kicker Michael Badgley’s attempt sailed wide left. However, Pittsburgh was called for being offsides. Badgley’s subsequent 34-yard attempt was blocked, but the Steelers were once again called for crossing the line of scrimmage early. The third try from 29 yards out proved to be the charm for Badgley as the Chargers left Heinz Field with a 33-30 win.
2. Oakland Raiders 24, Pittsburgh Steelers 21
Dec. 9, 2018 – Week 14 (Oakland)
Chris Boswell Slips on Potential Game-Tying Field Goal
The next week, the Steelers traveled to Oakland and engaged in a back-and-forth contest with the Raiders. Ben Roethlisberger put Pittsburgh ahead 21-17 with a TD pass to JuJu Smith-Schuster with 2:55 to go, but Oakland responded with a 75-yard drive that culminated in a Derek Carr scoring strike to Derek Carrier and gave the Raiders a 24-21 lead with only 21 seconds left. A catch and lateral gave a Pittsburgh a shot at a game-tying field goal from Oakland’s 22-yard line, but kicker Chris Boswell slipped on the turf and the attempt was blocked.
1. Miami Dolphins 34, New England Patriots 33
Dec. 9, 2018 – Week 14 (Miami)
Miami wins on Double Lateral on Final Play
If you forgot Boswell’s slip, it is probably because your attention was focused on another ending that week. New England entered the game 9-3 and Miami was 6-6, but the two teams matched each other score for score at Hard Rock Stadium. Finally, a 22-yard Stephen Gostkowski field goal gave New England a seemingly commanding 33-28 lead with 16 seconds to go. Miami then got the ball back on its own 31-yard line with seven seconds left and won on an amazing double lateral that Kenyan Drake took to the end zone. Words can’t do it justice. You just have to see it. Things did end up working out for New England though.
Where's the NFC Championship Game?
There's no question the NFC title game between the Los Angeles Rams and New Orleans Saints was "crazy." But it should be pointed out that the controversial play in question happened shortly after the two-minute warning. Following the no-call, the Saints kicked a field goal with 1:41 left on the clock. That was more than enough time for the Rams to move into field goal range, as Greg Zuerlein kicked the 48-yarder to send the game into overtime. More zaniness ensued in the extra period, as Drew Brees' arm was hit, causing his pass to flutter and end up in the hands of Los Angeles safety John Johnson III. Five plays and a couple of timeouts later, Zuerlein connected from 57 yards out to send the Rams to the Super Bowl. Crazy? Indeed. But this was a sequence of events that covered two separate periods of play rather than a solitary "ending."
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.