Every sports fan has those “what if” moments. What if he had made that shot? What if he had made that putt? What if Draymond Green hadn’t been suspended for Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals? Those are the questions that keep athletes and sports fans up at night. But no sports moment draws that question more than the close call that comes near the end of a game.
Those are the losses that are impossible to get over.
From near-buzzer-beaters to missed calls, these are our favorite sports moments that didn’t quite happen.
10. Antonio Brown steps out on a miracle play
While Antonio Brown’s Steelers career looks to be nearing its end, let’s look back at the time he almost capped a 79-yard, five-lateral miracle play with a touchdown against the Dolphins. He didn’t quite pull it off, though, as he stepped out of bounds to hand the Dolphins a win in snowy Pittsburgh.
9. Tom Brady’s Hail Mary in Super Bowl 52
It’s hard to feel to bad for Tom Brady because he’s won like 39 Super Bowls (OK, six), but those greedy Patriots fans certainly wonder what life would have been like had Rob Gronkowski or Phillip Dorsett (off the deflection) been able to corral the late Hail Mary pass against the Eagles. They were so close.
8. Chiefs’ Super Bowl trip negated by offsides
It’s difficult to blame one player for the outcome of a game, but the Chiefs would have been in Super Bowl 53 had Dee Ford not lined up in the neutral zone. The Chiefs had the game-sealing interception wiped away after Ford was called for the offsides penalty. It could have been a moment that ended the Patriots dynasty, but those few inches instead helped the Patriots win another Super Bowl.
7. Scott Hoch’s 2-foot miss in the 1989 Masters
Scott Hoch needed two putts to win the Masters. TWO PUTTS. When his first putt had him set up for a two-foot tap-in, Hoch should’ve had nothing to worry about. He’s a professional golfer. But no, he missed that putt too! Nick Faldo went on to win the green jacket.
6. Bill Buckner’s error in the 1986 World Series
Bill Buckner undeservedly got a lot of blame for this moment. The error was bad, but the Red Sox had already blown the lead with a wild pitch by Bob Stanley. Buckner didn’t lose the game by himself, but it was an iconic moment that haunted Boston for nearly two decades. Luckily, Red Sox fans have moved on from the Buckner hate now that the Sox have won four titles since 2004.
5. Chris Wondolowski’s 2014 World Cup miss
The USMNT had no business winning its 2014 Round of 16 match against Belgium, but thanks to an otherworldly performance from Tim Howard, the match was a scoreless draw into stoppage time. And despite Belgium’s dominance in the match, the U.S. could have – should have! – won. Chris Wondolowski had a chance to send the USMNT into the quarterfinal. Then, The Miss happened. His half-volley attempt sailed by Thibaut Courtois and well over the crossbar. (There was confusion from the broadcasters, but the offside flag was not up. The AR was signaling goal kick.)
4. Last 6.5 seconds of the 2009 Stanley Cup Final
Those 6.5 seconds must have felt like an eternity for both the Red Wings and Penguins because everything that happened was bonkers. It was Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, and Pittsburgh held a one-goal lead with one faceoff to go. That was when Marc-Andre Fleury made the save of his life to stop Detroit from forcing overtime on an open look at goal, preserving the Penguins’ win.
3. Armando Galarraga’s near-perfect game
Back in 2010, Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga faced 28 batters, and he technically got all 28 of them out. With two outs in the ninth inning of a perfect-game bid, umpire Jim Joyce missed a call at first base that would have sealed the perfect game for Galarraga. This was before baseball expanded instant replay. He was that close to history.
2. Super Bowl XXXIV: Rams vs. Titans
The Tennessee Titans came within one yard of tying (PAT pending – or winning if they went for two) the Super Bowl on the final play of regulation. Instead, an incredible tackle from Rams linebacker Mike Jones saved a Super Bowl title for St. Louis. The Titans have not made another Super Bowl in the 19 years since that tackle.
1. Gordon Hayward at the buzzer
“Ohhhhh. It almost went in!” Those words from Jim Nantz have Butler and college basketball fans still asking “what if” to this day. Butler was the ultimate Cinderella – playing just miles away from campus in the 2010 national title game – and Gordon Hayward nearly hit the biggest shot in college basketball history to beat Duke.
If only it had gone in …