Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 11/20/11

It's at this time of the year that we normally begin to watch some of those pleasant surprise teams begin to fade, leaving one or two classic Cinderella stories by season's end. Most of the time, we see these late season let downs coming from miles off, but there are always a few cases that still shock and surprise us years later. That's what this list is all about. We're looking for the all-time greatest late season let downs in NFL history. Shall we begin?

5: 1998 Pittsburgh Steelers

Best Record: 7-4 | Finished: 7-9

The Steelers went into Detroit in the midst of a tight AFC Central battle. That game went into overtime where Jerome Bettis called "tails" for the overtime coin toss, but the referee heard "heads." That was the call the official went with, and the Steelers went on to lose that game, finishing the season on a 5 game skid.

4: 2008 New York Jets

Best Record: 8-3 | Finished: 9-7

Ahh, Brett Favre's career will forever be a tale of triumph, trial, and finally, failure. While Favre's stint with the Jets lasted only 1 season, it was his late season play that gets him and his team placed on this infamous list. After starting 8-3, which included a few late game heroics by Favre himself, this late season collapse pretty much sums up the end of Favre's career. "Go, GO , GO!,...NOOOO!"

3: 2008 Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Best Record: 9-3 | Finished: 9-7

The tie-breaker between this team and the Jets was their best record. It's extremely difficult for a team in the NFL to start 9-3, and that's why 9-3 teams always make the playoffs. Well, almost always. At 9-3, the Bucs were neck and neck with the Panthers for the division lead, and then they just, well, bombed in spectacular fashion, losing their last 4 games to miss the post-season.

2: 1993 Miami Dolphins

Best Record: 9-2 | Finished 9-7

Despite losing Dan Marino for the season, the Dolphins built an impressive 9-2 record, with a little help from Leon Lett, but their euphoria didn't last. They had been winning all of their close games to get to 9-2, but the law of averages brought them back to Earth. They lost a pair of late-season overtime games, and just missed the playoffs at 9-7.

1: 1987 San Diego Chargers

Best Record: 8-1 | Finished 8-7

Oh the San Diego Chargers. Of all the teams in the league that don't have a Super Bowl victory, the Chargers are probably most deserving. In the strike-shortened season of 1987, it seemed like the Chargers were well on their way to making that elusive Super Bowl run. The fact that they lost 6 games to end the season is painful enough for any team, but that was also the final year that Kellen Winslow and Dan Fouts played in the league. Way to go out with a bang... I guess.

Follow @smaclemons on Twitter [follow]

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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