We are getting close to the end, and here is a play that almost led to one of the great finishes in NFL history.
The play: Would have been remembered as “The Play” if not for a couple of inches. Wide receiver Antonio Brown stepped out of bounds at the Miami Dolphins’ 12 yard-line, nullifying a touchdown that would have gone down in NFL lore with the “Immaculate Reception” and sending the Steelers to a 34-28 loss.
The situation: The Steelers were down to their final play and they made the most of it. A completion to wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders set off a series of laterals, and Brown split two Dolphins defenders after catching a pitch from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at the Steelers’ 33-yard line. Brown raced past Dolphins safety Reshad Jones down the left sidelines and also eluded safety Chris Clemons on the way to the end zone. Clemons, however, used just enough of the sidelines for Brown to step out of bounds. The snow-covered turf added to the difficulty of Brown knowing where he was on the field.
Why it mattered: The euphoria over one of the greatest plays in NFL history soon gave way to the grim reality that a couple of inches had doomed the Steelers to another bad loss and their eighth one of the season. Considering the Steelers missed the playoffs by one game, this loss ranks up there with ones against the Vikings and Raiders that hurt the most. I know this could easily be considered No. 1 on the list of plays that shaped the season, but I ranked it lower for this reason: The Steelers should have never needed a miraculous play to bail them out against a warm-weather teams that had not won in Pittsburgh since 1990 and trailed in the fourth quarter.