On Wednesday, we highlighted the winners of this year's NFL playoffs. Now it's time to take a look at the players who have the misfortune of being remembered as the losers.
Several of the players on this list thrived during the regular season. The MVP of the league, the Defensive Player of the Year and the kicker who made the most field goals in 2015 all made this list. For one reason or another, each one fell short of expectations in the playoffs.
In no specific order, here are the 10 biggest losers of this year's playoffs:
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Blair Walsh, kicker, Vikings
Walsh was the source of tremendous heartbreak in Minnesota last month. Although he provided all nine of the Vikings' points in their Wild Card-round loss to the Seahawks, his fourth and final field-goal attempt was the one they really needed but did not get. Walsh's 27-yard chip shot went wide left with less than 30 seconds to play, allowing the Seahawks to advance to the Divisional round by a razor-thin margin.
Brian Hoyer, quarterback, Texans
The Texans didn't belong in the playoffs, but their 9-7 record earned them an automatic bid as the AFC South champions. Hoyer is the farthest thing from a franchise quarterback, and that was apparent during Houston's 30-0, shutout loss to the Chiefs in the Wild Card round. The 30-year-old journeyman completed less than half of his pass attempts and threw four interceptions. He also fumbled twice (and lost one) in the postseason debacle.
J.J. Watt, defensive end, Texans
With Brian Hoyer struggling on offense, Watt wasn't much of a difference-maker on defense. Although he won 2015 Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 17.5 sacks in the regular season, the All-Pro end recorded just one tackle against the Chiefs. Watt had every opportunity to make an impact, too; the Texans even gave him a goal-line rushing attempt, allowing him to receive a direct snap in the Wildcat formation. The result was a one-yard loss and immeasurable embarrassment.
DeSean Jackson, wide receiver, Redskins
The Redskins overcame the odds and won the NFC East title, but their top receiver was nowhere to be found in the playoffs. Jackson was limited to just two catches for 17 yards in a 35-18 loss to the Packers in the Wild Card round. It's not like Washington's offense was shut down as a whole, though. Quarterback Kirk Cousins threw for over 300 yards, as tight end Jordan Reed, running back Chris Thompson and wide receiver Pierre GarÃ§on each had a big day catching the ball. Jackson, however, was a nonfactor in the game.
Vontaze Burfict/Pacman Jones, linebacker & safety, Bengals
The Bengals looked like they had a win locked up against the Steelers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, but Burfict and Jones found a unique way to lose with a pair of boneheaded penalties in the last minute of the game. First, Burfict hit a defenseless Antonio Brown and was called for unnecessary roughness; then, Jones was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. These two 15-yard infractions set up Chris Boswell's game-winning field goal from 35 yards out with 14 seconds to play, as the Bengals were sent packing by their hated division rivals.
Carson Palmer, quarterback, Cardinals
Palmer was one of the best passers in the NFL during the regular season, but something changed in the playoffs. He and his Cardinals beat the Packers in the Divisional round, despite throwing two interceptions. His mistakes were too much to overcome in the NFC Championship, though, as Palmer threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles in a 49-15, blowout loss to the Panthers. The veteran quarterback has a 1-3 record in the playoffs for his career.
Jonathan Stewart/Mike Tolbert, running backs, Panthers
Carolina's running backs were not effective against Denver's stifling defense in Super Bowl 50. Although Stewart scored the Panthers' lone touchdown of the game, he gained only 29 yards on 12 carries (2.4 yards per carry). Tolbert had five rushing attempts for 18 yards and lost one of his two fumbles. Neither back was able to make an impact as a pass-catcher; Stewart caught one of his two targets for a one-yard loss, and Tolbert didn't catch his lone target.
Cam Newton, quarterback, Panthers
Newton was a big winner in Carolina's first two postseason games. He threw three touchdown passes and ran for two more, as his Panthers rolled over the Seahawks and Cardinals and into Super Bowl 50. Against the Broncos, however, the arm and legs that had previously produced a total of 50 touchdowns went weak. Although he produced over 300 yards of offense (265 passing, 45 rushing), he was not responsible for a single score in the Super Bowl. On top of that, Newton threw an interception and lost two fumbles that directly led to Denver touchdowns. His curt responses during a postgame press conference only furthered the narrative that he was one of the biggest losers of this year's playoffs.