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10 most heartbreaking losses suffered in NY Jets history

NY Jets, Mark Gastineau
NY Jets, Mark Gastineau / George Gojkovich/GettyImages
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NY Jets, Doug Brien / George Gojkovich/GettyImages

5. The Doug Brien Game

If you weren't a Jets fan or alive on January 15th, 2005, consider yourself very fortunate not to have experienced their 20-17 divisional playoff game overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers. 

Although Herman Edwards finished under .500 at 39-41 as head coach of the Jets during his five-year run with the club, there was a lot of excitement for the fan base during that era, particularly in Edwards' first few years with New York.

The "you play to win the game" coach made the playoffs in three of his first four seasons, and all three of those playoff berths were clinched in the final week of the regular season. The Jets played many exciting and meaningful games during Edwards' run.

There was plenty of drama attached to Herman Edwards during his tenure, and the Jets won some big games dramatically. But by the same token, there were instances where they lost games due to Edwards' baffling in-game decision-making.

No game further exemplified the latter than the Jets' heartbreaking playoff loss to the No. 1 seeded 15-1 Steelers in Pittsburgh. It's a game that everyone thought the Jets had no business winning, yet they almost did twice. Somehow, the Jets found a way to lose in the most excruciating way possible.

To properly set the stage, a week before, the 10-6 wild card Jets had nearly blown a playoff win on the road against the San Diego Chargers in epic fashion. New York, led by the NFL's leading rusher Curtis Martin, had taken a 17-7 lead into the fourth quarter against the Drew Brees/LaDainian Tomlinson-led Chargers.

It was a wacky game that saw the Jets line up twice with only 10 men on defense. The Jets also had a scuffle on the sidelines between coaches when Herman Edwards seemingly tried to punch his running backs coach, Bishop Harris, after an argument over in-game substitutions.

As the game progressed deep into the fourth quarter, San Diego cut the Jets' lead to one score and mounted one last drive deep into Jets territory down by seven.

Facing a 4th-and-goal at the 3-yard line, a desperation pass by Brees into the end zone would fall incomplete, securing an apparent Jets victory.

However, an inexcusable roughing the passer penalty by linebacker Eric Barton where he reared back and drove an elbow to Brees' head after the pass was thrown, negated the Jets' win in regulation. 

The epic blunder by Barton gave the Chargers new life, and San Diego scored to tie the game and forced overtime. The Jets, however, got a break in the extra session when kicker Nate Kaeding missed a chip shot game-winning field goal.

On the heels of that misfire, Chad Pennington and the Jets' ground game would drive all the way down to the Chargers' 11, and Doug Brien, who had missed a 33-yard field goal earlier in the contest, would connect from 28 yards out to win the game 20-17, sending the Jets to Pittsburgh for the Divisional Round.

In Pittsburgh, despite New York's struggles on offense, with a banged-up Chad Pennington, the Jets, thanks to a dynamic 75-yard punt return for a touchdown from Santana Moss and an opportunistic defense, were hanging tough with an excellent Steelers team.

The game was tied at 17 late in the fourth quarter. The Jets would mount a long drive down the field into Pittsburgh territory for a potential go-ahead score, but conservative play-calling would lead to a 47-yard field goal attempt with two minutes left in the game.

Doug Brien's kick would hit the crossbar and fall short. 

Typically, missing one potential game-winning kick that would send your team to the AFC Championship would be painful enough, but the true misery would come moments later, when David Barrett picked off Ben Roethlisberger, returning the interception to Pittsburgh's 37-yard line, setting the Jets up for another potential game-winner.

The Jets would pick up a first down on a Curtis Martin catch-and-run and get down to the Steelers' 25-yard line. New York would get the ball down to Pittsburgh's 23.

But with six seconds left, rather than attempting to advance the ball further, the Jets would call a timeout to run an ill-advised QB kneel that lost two yards, setting up Doug Brien for a redemption kick from 43 yards out with four seconds left.

Brien would not only miss his second fourth-quarter field goal, but this time, he completely shanked it far to the left.

In overtime, the Steelers would drive down the field, and kicker Jeff Reed would connect from 33 yards to eliminate the Jets from the playoffs. Herman Edwards would never recover from this defeat.

At the end of the 2005 season, in an unprecedented move, the Jets traded him while he was under contract to the Kansas City Chiefs. This would also be the swan song for two all-time Jets greats, Curtis Martin and Kevin Mawae.

Their final playoff appearance in green and white.

Both Martin and Mawae's Jets careers would come to an end a year later. Doug Brien, a career 80 percent field goal kicker, would kick in only three more NFL games the following season for the Bears, going 1-for-4 before retiring.

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