Some NFL losses are so legendary that people refer to them by a simple phrase.
The Ice Bowl. The Drive. The Miracle in the Meadowlands. The Immaculate Reception.
Or even, simply, 28-3.
Fans, young and old, know 28-3 was the score in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI before the Atlanta Falcons' legendary meltdown that led to the New England Patriots winning their fifth championship.
All losses hurt, but a loss like that will leave a legacy of heartbreak that can last generations. It stings a little each time they play that opponent, too, like when the Falcons (4-5) host the Patriots (6-4) Thursday night (8:20 p.m. ET, FOX/NFL Network).
That got us thinking: What is the most heartbreaking loss for each NFL franchise?
Click a team below to relive all of the gory details for some of the NFL's most infamous losses, as our NFL Nation reporters make their picks.
"Wide right" is still a phrase that Bills fans don't like to hear after kicker Scott Norwood's missed 47-yard field goal attempt in Super Bowl XXV with eight seconds remaining in the game. The missed kick resulted in the Bills losing that game, which ended up being the first of four straight Super Bowl losses. This contest was the closest the Bills got to coming away with a title during that stretch, making it that much more heartbreaking. Buffalo has been working to get back to the big game ever since those losses. -- Alaina Getzenberg
It's not just the fact that the Dolphins, Florida's predominant NFL team for the previous 20 years, lost to a Jaguars team in its fifth year of existence. Or the fact that Miami lost 62-7 in a playoff game, marking the worst margin of defeat since 1940 and second-worst in NFL history. It's that both of those facts occurred in what turned out to be Dan Marino's final NFL game, bringing an unceremonious end to a Hall of Fame career. -- Marcel Louis-Jacques
The Patriots led 21-17 with just over a minute to play and had the Raiders on the ropes, as Oakland faced third-and-18 from its own 28. When Ken Stabler's pass fell incomplete, the Patriots appeared to be one play away from closing things out -- but a questionable roughing the passer call from referee Ben Dreith on Ray "Sugar Bear" Hamilton instead gave the Raiders new life. Hamilton called it a "phantom bogus call." The Raiders went on to score with 10 seconds remaining and win 24-21. -- Mike Reiss
After upsetting Peyton Manning and Tom Brady on the road in consecutive playoff games, the Jets went into Pittsburgh thinking it was their destiny to make the Super Bowl. Bart Scott's legendary "Can't wait!" rant after the New England win became the rallying cry. They fell behind 24-0 but staged a furious rally with 19 unanswered points, closing to within five with three minutes to play. All they needed was a stop to get a chance to win, but they couldn't get the ball back and lost 24-19. With a young quarterback (Mark Sanchez) and a popular coach (Rex Ryan), the Jets figured they'd get another shot at a Super Bowl. That hasn't happened. They haven't even been back to the playoffs since. -- Rich Cimini
The Ravens had two chances in the final 22 seconds to keep their Super Bowl hopes alive, and they let both slip through their grasp in a 23-20 loss to the Patriots. Wide receiver Lee Evans had the winning, 14-yard touchdown pass from Joe Flacco slapped out of his hands in the end zone. Then, with an opportunity to send the game into overtime, kicker Billy Cundiff wildly pulled a 32-yard field goal attempt wide left. "We fell 15 seconds from having it," linebacker Terrell Suggs said. "So, please believe, it won't happen again." The next season, the Ravens redeemed themselves by beating the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game and capturing the franchise's second Lombardi Trophy. -- Jamison Hensley
The Bengals, touchdown underdogs against one of the best dynasties in NFL history, needed to stop the 49ers one more time to win their first Super Bowl. Joe Montana had other plans. The quarterback led the 49ers on an 11-play, 92-yard drive capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds left. The 49ers won 20-16 and the Bengals haven't been back to the Super Bowl. Montana was 8-of-9 passing on that drive. "To lose like that was the worst," Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason said after the game, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. -- Ben Baby
In Cleveland, it's still referred to as "The Drive." The Browns held a 20-13 lead and seemed destined to go to their first Super Bowl. Denver had the ball at its own 2-yard line with 5:32 to play in the game. But that's when John Elway methodically guided the Broncos down the field. Then, in the waning seconds, he found Mark Jackson for a game-tying, 5-yard touchdown. The Broncos went on to win in overtime. Compounding the heartbreak, the following year, Cleveland's season again ended in the AFC Championship Game to Denver. This time because of "The Fumble," as Earnest Byner's turnover in front of the Denver goal line late in the fourth quarter kept the Browns out of the Super Bowl. -- Jake Trotter
Steelers fans are haunted by several recent heartbreakers -- the Jesse James no-catch loss to the Patriots, the Tim Tebow overtime AFC wild-card playoff loss, the 2018 divisional round defeat by the Jacksonville Jaguars -- but none sting harder than Ben Roethlisberger's lone Super Bowl loss, coming against the Packers in 2011. The Steelers, trying for their third Super Bowl win in six years, rebounded from a 21-7 halftime deficit and three turnovers to pull within three points with 7:34 left. But Packers kicker Mason Crosby pushed the lead to six with a field goal, and Roethlisberger threw three incompletions on the Steelers' final drive to seal the defeat. -- Brooke Pryor
The Texans were up 24-0 and less than three quarters away from the team's first appearance in an AFC Championship Game. Instead, a botched fake punt turned into a quick Kansas City touchdown and the game unraveled from there. The Chiefs scored 28 points in the second quarter and led at halftime. Houston scored just one touchdown in the last 40 minutes of the game, and the Chiefs scored so many points (51) that Arrowhead Stadium ran out of fireworks. -- Sarah Barshop
This was arguably the best team of the Peyton Manning era with the Colts because they had all the pieces in all three areas of football. You would have never thought the Colts were heavily favored to not only win the game but also the Super Bowl, based off them falling behind 14-0 after the first quarter. The last five minutes were memorable. Colts cornerback Nick Harper recovered a fumble and appeared to be on his way for a touchdown, had he not been indecisive in his running. Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was able to do just enough to trip up Harper. Kicker Mike Vanderjagt missed a game-tying 46-yard field goal so badly that Manning could be seen on television saying, "Missed it!" "It's extreme disbelief," Vanderjagt said. "... Everything seemed to be lined up in our favor. I guess the Lord forgot about the football team." -- Mike Wells
The Jaguars had a 10-point fourth-quarter lead, but two plays in particular cost them a trip to the Super Bowl. The Patriots used a trick play in which receiver Danny Amendola threw a pass to running back Dion Lewis, but Myles Jack ran Lewis down after a 22-yard gain and ripped the ball out of his grasp as they went to the ground. Jack ended up with the ball, got up and headed for the end zone, but officials blew the play dead and stopped what would have been a touchdown. After reviewing the play, the officials ruled that Jack was down by contact, and the Jaguars took over on their own 33-yard line. The Jaguars didn't score on that possession, and when the Patriots got the ball back, Tom Brady converted a third-and-18 with a 21-yard pass to Amendola. The Pats went on to score a TD to cut the lead to 20-17 with 8:44 to play, and they scored the go-ahead TD on their next drive on another Brady-to-Amendola throw. -- Michael DiRocco
The Titans entered halftime down 9-0 after holding the high-octane Rams offense to three field goals. The Rams scored their first touchdown in the third quarter to take a 16-0 lead, but then Tennessee scored 16 unanswered points to tie the score. It was the first time in Super Bowl history that a team had overcome such a large deficit. Rams QB Kurt Warner found WR Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown pass to regain the lead. The Titans then drove to the St. Louis 10-yard line with six seconds remaining. Rams LB Mike Jones tackled Tennessee WR Kevin Dyson one yard short of the goal line to prevent a potential game-tying touchdown on the final play. -- Turron Davenport
Yes, the 38-35 playoff loss to the Ravens, in overtime, to end Peyton Manning's first year in Denver and the 34-17 AFC Championship Game loss to the Steelers, at home, that ended the 2005 season were soul-crushing to many of the team's faithful. But this loss to the Jaguars, at home, by a Broncos team that had finished tied for the best record in the league and looked poised to get John Elway his first Super Bowl win stands alone. As Shannon Sharpe once put it: "That game made us promise ourselves, the vets on that team, we would never let that happen again -- and we won two in a row." -- Jeff Legwold
This is the loss nobody saw coming. That includes the Chiefs, who were 13-3 in the regular season and the AFC's top playoff seed. The Chiefs were 10.5-point favorites over the Colts and were already looking forward to an AFC Championship Game showdown with the Steelers. It never happened. The Chiefs were shocked first by the weather, with temperatures around 10 degrees, and then by the Colts, who won 10-7. The Chiefs missed three field goals, the last failure coming in the final minute. -- Adam Teicher
So many games from which to choose. Immaculate Reception? Tuck rule? Derek Carr's broken leg? Let's go with a game nearly two decades old, since the Raiders have been to the playoffs only once since. From All-Pro center Barret Robbins going AWOL to charges of sabotage to three pick-sixes from league MVP Rich Gannon to facing a former coach in Tampa Bay's Jon Gruden, who knew the Raiders better than they knew themselves. As former right tackle Lincoln Kennedy said, "There was only one coach on the planet who could have beaten us that day, and it was the [expletive] on the other sideline." The Raiders have not been the same since. -- Paul Gutierrez
Dan Fouts ended his career as the Chargers' all-time leading passer, but he never made the Super Bowl, losing in the AFC Championship Game in 1980 and 1981. The team also lost in the divisional round in 1979. It was the 1980 game, though, that people point out because it was to the Raiders, Fouts threw for 336 yards and the Chargers held Oakland to six points in the second half. They lost by big margins in the championship game the next two years, so 1980 was their closest and most heartbreaking defeat. -- Shelley Smith
There are plenty of games for the Cowboys to choose from, including playoff losses to the Packers in 2014 (Dez Bryant caught it!) and 2016 (Aaron Rodgers converts a third-and-20), but this is one of the most historic games in NFL history: the Ice Bowl. Temperature at kickoff was minus-15 degrees with a minus-48 degree wind chill factor. The Cowboys held a 17-14 lead late in the fourth quarter, but QB Bart Starr led the Packers down the icy field and faced third-and-goal from the Dallas 1-yard line. During a timeout, he convinced Vince Lombardi that a quarterback sneak would work. He followed a Jerry Kramer block and won the game with 13 seconds to play. For the second straight season, the Cowboys lost in the NFL title game to the Packers. -- Todd Archer
Plenty of options for the Giants, with the Miracle at the Meadowlands and Miracle at the New Meadowlands, but the key word here is "heartbreaking." And nothing tops blowing a 24-point lead in a playoff game. That is what happened to the Jim Fassel-led Giants in the 2002 season. They led 38-14 late in the third quarter ... and lost! To have it end 39-38 on a bad snap by Trey Junkin on a potential winning field goal made it all the more heartbreaking. To have the NFL admit afterward that there should have been pass interference when holder Matt Allen picked up the ball and heaved it downfield to lineman Rich Seubert just added insult to heartbreak. -- Jordan Raanan
This was supposed to be the season the Eagles won it all. They entered the postseason as the No. 1 seed and seemed to have the Bucs' number, having beaten them in the playoffs both of the prior two seasons. What's more, Tampa had never won a game when the temperature was under 40 degrees, and it was below freezing in Philly. The Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 start following a 70-yard Brian Mitchell kickoff return and subsequent Duce Staley touchdown plunge, but the Bucs dominated from there, handing the Eagles a 27-10 loss and the worst stomach punch in franchise history. -- Tim McManus
Before the season, Washington was pegged by many to finish last in the five-team NFC East. But if it could win this regular-season finale at Dallas, it would win the division; it could not make the playoffs as a wild card. Washington led 17-0 in the first half, then fell behind and rallied to take a 34-21 lead with seven minutes remaining. That's when Dallas quarterback Roger Staubach took over, with two touchdown passes, including an eight-yard game-winner with 45 seconds left. After the game, Dallas defensive lineman Harvey Martin delivered a funeral wreath to the Washington locker room. Martin was still upset that Washington, in a 34-20 win earlier that season, had called time with 14 seconds left to kick a field goal. Dallas got its revenge; Washington got heartbreak and would not make the playoffs again until 1982, snapping a six-year absence. -- John Keim
The Bears breezed through the regular season at 13-3 and appeared poised to win their first Super Bowl title since 1985, behind the NFL's top-rated defense. Even the beginning of the game had a storybook feel for the Bears, when Devin Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown. But after a handful of Rex Grossman turnovers -- including a pick-six -- the Bears fell behind late in the first half and never recovered. The Bears have not been back to a Super Bowl since. -- Jeff Dickerson
The Lions' history includes no shortage of heartbreaking and bizarre moments. You can take your pick with these situations, which includes becoming the first team in NFL history to lose twice in a season on 50-yard field goals on the final play of regulation, per Elias Sports Bureau research, just this season. But one crushing defeat sticks out: the Dec. 3, 2015, loss to the Packers, when quarterback Aaron Rodgers connected with Richard Rodgers for a 61-yard Hail Mary as time expired. It was the longest game-winning, game-ending Hail Mary in NFL history, per Elias, and lifted the Packers to a stunning 27-23 victory. -- Eric Woodyard
Known as "The Catch II," it was the end of a potential Packers dynasty. They had come off two straight Super Bowls (a win and a loss) and seemed poised for a run at a third, when 49ers receiver Jerry Rice fumbled with less than 40 seconds to go. But the officials missed the fumble and without instant replay in the NFL at the time, San Francisco's drive continued. Steve Young then threaded a 25-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens with 8 seconds left -- reminiscent of "The Catch," hence "The Catch II" -- to knock out the Packers, who wouldn't get to another Super Bowl for another 12 years. Not coincidentally, the NFL brought back instant replay for the following season. -- Rob Demovsky
The Vikings have lost all four Super Bowls they've appeared in, but no loss is as widely referenced and invokes as much pain among fans as the 1998 NFC Championship Game between Minnesota and Atlanta. That season featured Randy Moss' record-setting rookie campaign, while Denny Green was named Coach of the Year after leading the Vikings to a 15-1 record. Kicker Gary Anderson had not missed a kick all season, having gone 35-for-35 on field goals and 59-for-59 on extra-point attempts in the regular season. With the Vikings up 27-20 with two minutes left, Anderson lined up to kick a 38-yard field goal that would have secured a Minnesota win, but the kick went wide left, Atlanta scored a touchdown to push the game into overtime, and Atlanta won on a field goal to advance to the Super Bowl. -- Courtney Cronin
28-3. That's probably all that needs to really be said here when you're talking about heartbreaking losses. The Falcons' 34-28 Super Bowl loss to the Patriots is the heartbreaker of all heartbreakers -- still brought up years later. Atlanta led 28-3 in the middle of the third quarter, close to its first-ever Super Bowl win. Then New England scored 25 straight points to tie the game and send it into overtime, when the Patriots won the toss, scored a touchdown and won the Super Bowl. It's a loss that has hung over the fan base -- if not the actual Falcons, too -- for the rest of former head coach Dan Quinn's tenure with the club. -- Michael Rothstein
The Panthers battled back from a 21-10 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game at 29 with 1:08 remaining. Momentum was on their side. Then John Kasay sent the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving a young Tom Brady a short field from the New England 40. That and three timeouts set up a winning, 41-yard field goal by Adam Vinatieri with 4 seconds left. -- David Newton
Unfortunately, you can take your pick among seven gut-wrenching playoff exits over the past 11 years (including the Minneapolis Miracle, the Beast Quake and a last-second loss at San Francisco for a 2011 team that might have been the Saints' best ever). But none was more heartbreaking or horrifying than the infamous "no call" in the 2018 NFC Championship Game, when officials missed an obvious pass interference flag that would have sent Drew Brees and the Saints to their second Super Bowl appearance. Instead, they wound up squandering an early 13-0 lead and lost in overtime. -- Mike Triplett
Trailing the Rams 11-6, the Bucs had one final shot to take down the "Greatest Show on Turf" and move on to the Super Bowl on their final drive. On second-and-23, from the Rams' 35-yard line, with 51 seconds on the clock, rookie quarterback Shaun King found wide receiver Bert Emanuel on a whip route, where Emanuel dove for the catch at the 23-yard line. Side judge Walt Anderson initially ruled it a catch, but it was reviewed and overturned because it was determined that while Emanuel caught the ball and maintained control of it, the tip of the ball hit the ground. Two plays later, their Super Bowl quest was over. The NFL revised the catch rule in 2018, but Emanuel was haunted by the play for years. "Regardless if it's your fault or not, you feel like you let people down," Emanuel told ESPN. "And those are things you have to live with for a long, long time." -- Jenna Laine
The Cardinals were two minutes and 37 seconds from their first world championship since 1947 after Larry Fitzgerald took a pass from Kurt Warner 64 yards for a go-ahead touchdown, giving Arizona a 23-20 lead in the final minutes of Super Bowl XLIII. The entire world knows what happened after that. Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers on a 78-yard drive that culminated with Santonio Holmes hauling in the winning touchdown, staying in bounds by the tips of his toes, with 35 seconds left in the game. It was the Cardinals' first and only Super Bowl appearance, and 12 years later, the loss still stings around the state. -- Josh Weinfuss
Any Super Bowl loss is disappointing, but the Patriots' 20-17 victory over the Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI could be considered the most heartbreaking. After kicking a field goal to take a first-quarter lead, the Rams trailed Tom Brady and the Patriots throughout the remainder of the game until quarterback Kurt Warner led a three-play, 45-yard drive to tie the score at 17 with 1:37 remaining. But Brady ran down the clock on the ensuing possession and led a nine-play, 53-yard drive that was capped by a 48-yard winning field goal with only seven seconds remaining. Perhaps it would be easy for the Rams to shrug off the loss, given they won the Super Bowl only two seasons earlier, but this defeat was especially devastating, as it signaled the end of the Greatest Show on Turf. The Rams did not make the playoffs the following season. -- Lindsey Thiry
Clinging to a one-point lead with under three minutes to play, running back Roger Craig coughed up a fumble that Lawrence Taylor recovered, and the Giants kicked their fifth field goal of the game as time expired to send the Niners home. The game was the unofficial end of the 49ers' late '80s dynasty, denying them a shot at their third straight Lombardi Trophy, and the beginning of the end of legendary quarterback Joe Montana's time with the team. Montana took a brutal hit from Giants defensive end Leonard Marshall that left him with a bruised sternum and stomach, cracked ribs and a broken hand that cost him the second half. Montana suffered an elbow injury the following August and played only one more half with the team before he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs after the 1992 season. The Niners did not return to the Super Bowl until after the 1994 season. -- Nick Wagoner
What else could it be? Yes, the Seahawks lost another Super Bowl in painful fashion nine years earlier against Pittsburgh, when they were on the wrong end of some baffling officiating decisions and played their worst game of the season. But coming up a yard short of toppling Tom Brady and the Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX is impossible to top on the heartbreak scale. It wasn't just that they were so close to pulling off a rare repeat before Russell Wilson was intercepted by Malcolm Butler on a questionable passing play at the goal line. Losing that game, in that fashion altered the chemistry in their locker room in a bad way. They haven't gotten past the divisional round of the playoffs since. -- Brady Henderson