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Instead, the catch was overturned on replay after officials decided the ball moved ever so slightly as Emanuel went to the ground. King’s heave to the end zone was batted harmlessly away and the Rams were on their way to the Super Bowl.

BREADBASKET BUMMER: The Steelers haven’t always been on the wrong side of a near miss. Pittsburgh was heavily favored to finally reach the Super Bowl under Bill Cowher in the 1996 AFC Championship Game and appeared to be all set after Bam Morris’ 1-yard touchdown gave the Steelers a 20-16 lead over Indianapolis with 1:43 left.

Colts quarterback Jim Harbaugh drove Indianapolis to the Pittsburgh 29 with 5 seconds remaining. Harbaugh’s threw a Hail Mary into a sea of players in the end zone. The seas, somehow, parted and the ball fell right onto the stomach of Colts wide receiver Aaron Bailey as he fell to the ground. One problem. The ball did too. Three Rivers Stadium erupted when the pass was ruled incomplete, sending the Steelers back to the Super Bowl for the first time since in 16 years.

NO CATCH II: There was no instant replay in the NFL in 1979. Had there been, the Pittsburgh Steelers dynasty might not have looked so nice and tidy with a pair of back-to-back titles.

The Houston Oilers were down by a touchdown in the third quarter of the AFC Championship game when Dan Pastorini found Mike Renfro in the corner of the end zone. The wide receiver clearly made the catch and slapped two feet on the ground before rolling out of bounds. Clearly, anyway, to everyone but the official on the spot. With no challenge flag to throw, Houston coach Bum Phillips settled for a field goal. Instead of tying the game, the Oilers trailed 17-13 and lost 27-13.

THE FUMBLE: Sorry Cleveland, this one goes on here too. During their previous incarnation, the Browns were actually pretty good. Sometimes really good. Twice in the 1980s they made it to the AFC Championship Game. Twice they lost in excruciating fashion.

Denver’s John Elway led “The Drive,” going 98 yards to tie the 1987 AFC Championship before winning in overtime. A year later, “The Fumble” did the Browns in. Cleveland was down by a touchdown but at the Denver 3 with 1:12 left in the fourth. Quarterback Bernie Kosar gave it to running back Earnest Byner, who was having a remarkable game.

Byner sprinted to the end zone. He got there sure enough. The ball did not. Denver’s Jeremiah Castille stripped it as Byner neared the goal line. The Broncos fell on it and Cleveland’s title drought is at 49 years and counting.


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