For all the frantic finishes yesterday, the Steelers might have topped them all, if Antonio Brown’s left foot hadn’t been just out of bounds.
The wide receiver’s foot on the line killed a five-lateral play that passed through six sets of hands with no time left on the clock, what would have set up a game-winning extra point against the Dolphins.
“I thought I had it clean,” Brown said, via Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I thought I separated really well getting to the sidelines, but it didn’t seem quite enough.”
It was close, however.
On their own 21-yard line with three seconds left on the clock, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger passed to Emmanuel Sanders at their 46, and the fun began.
Sanders tossed it to Jerricho Cotchery, who then gave it to Le’Veon Bell. Bell pitched it to tackle Marcus Gilbert, who had the good sense to get it back to Roethlisberger. After a few yards, the quarterback chunked it back to Brown, who had space.
Brown made Dolphins safety Reshad Jones miss, and appeared to be clear of Chris Clemons, but his left foot hit the white line around the 12-yard line.
What he really could have used was coach Mike Tomlin standing there to force him inside.
Instead, the Steelers were left to lament their eighth loss of the season, caused by a pile of problems bigger than Brown’s left foot.
“When you put yourself in a position where you are banking on Marcus Gilbert handling the ball for you to win the game,” safety Ryan Clark said. “That means you haven’t done what you were supposed to do earlier.”
It’s a familiar refrain for the year, and one they can think about in what’s almost certain to be an offseason that begins in three weeks.