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Duke loss just the latest version of Pitt stomach punches

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How much can one fan base take in the form of gut wrenching losses? With Pitt inventing ways to lose, can we really take much more?

James Conner keeps me coming back.
James Conner keeps me coming back.
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Everyone has their moment when they reach a breaking point. And i this was a WWE show, JR would be screaming, "somebody stop the damn match!"

The Pitt fan base can't take much more, can they?

A couple of years ago, I tweeted that Pitt has to lead the nation in losing games that they really should have won and it received a pretty big response, including a few former Panthers jumping on board to retweet the message. Hell, Panther fans even have a name for it now and it's called "Pitting." Whenever there is a close game late and Pitt fans can feel the stomach punch loss coming, social media is full of messages describing this very scenario.

It happened again to the Panthers on Saturday against ranked Duke at home. As soon as Chris Blewitt's kick sailed wide to the left, this just seemed over for Pitt. The Panthers had developed a new way to lose and this time, it was one of Pitt's more reliable players, in kicker Chris Blewitt. Blewitt has been very good and I have no doubt he will bounce back in a big way for the Panthers, but his missed kick just helped to provide another demoralizing loss for Pitt.

And this, of course, was nothing new. Let's travel back to the last several years and let the memories you have of these games flow back to you.  We'll keep this to football, because if I have to revisit the Pitt-Butler hoops game from a few years ago, I won't sleep tonight. I hate to do it, but if I am wallowing around in depression, you have to do it too:

  • The big one was the loss to Cincinnati, of course. I was there with my dad in the snow. A big lead squandered, a kickoff return, and a botched extra point with a BCS berth on the line gave the Bearcats a 45-44 victory. I lost my voice and as I ate dinner with my family at a bar later on in the evening, I kept looking at the highlights thinking the outcome would be different and I had missed something. I had not.
  • There was also the 2012 Notre Dame game - a triple overtime loss to one of the best teams in the country that season - back in the days when Pitt was a big underdog and Manti Te'o's girlfriend was still a real thing. This one stung because I still felt like the outcome was taken out of Pitt's hands with an awful pass interference call, the Irish getting away with two players with the same jersey number, and the officials missing a blatant punch from Louis Nix III on JP Holtz in overtime. I didn't even mention our missed chip shot field goal or recovering a fumble into the end zone from Notre Dame in OT.
  • Also, take your pick from among the defeats against the powerful Connecticut Huskies! Which year do you want? 2004? 2006? How about 2007? Maybe 2010 is more your speed, or you could just go with 2013.
  • Let's travel back a little more and look at the 2005 loss to Ohio. Not Ohio State, just plain 'ol Ohio. Not only did Pitt lose, but they did so in bad fashion with a pick-6 to end it in overtime. The Bobcats didn't even need an offensive possession in the extra session.
  • There was also Nate Byham waving a towel on the sidelines as the team thought they had put Navy away in overtime in 2007.  They hadn't and lost 48-45 in triple overtime.
  • Who could forget 2008 with the Panthers ranked in the top-25 to start the year, only to lose at home to Bowling Green. Yup, I was at that game too.
  • 2011 saw Todd Graham. It also saw Pitt blow a rather large lead to Iowa and a tight one to West Virginia where I believe that Tino Sunseri took about 37 sacks in the fourth quarter alone.
  • 2012 was Paul Chryst's first year and produced such dandies as Youngstown State and a mind numbing 14-13 game at Syracuse.
You can pick one of those or maybe you prefer to dig deep and find one that hurt you even more than the list above.

This year alone has seen the Panthers kick Iowa all over the field for a half, before deciding to take the second half completely off and lose. There was the complete no-show against Akron and the ten minutes that ruined a trip to Virginia. And the fumbling issues against Georgia Tech in the ugly Homecoming loss is up there as well.
Being a Pitt fan, I've become a genius at the "what if" game. The first two on this list stick out probably the most, but the Duke game last Saturday really provided a special moment. I was pacing around my basement before the field goal attempt talking myself into him making it. Just another punch to the gut.

Funny enough, I haven't even mentioned the loss that made me the most mad yet. I won't dwell on it, but back in 2006, West Virginia destroyed Pitt, 45-27. It wasn't a stomach punch game, but when Pat White mocked the Panther roar at the game, that just made things worse.

So with all this, why do we keep coming back? Because of 13-9. Because of watching the team remain competitive with Notre Dame probably more than they should. There is James Conner and Tyler Boyd. Before that, there was Larry Fitzgerald, Lesean McCoy, and Darrelle Revis. There is knowing that we are a thorn in the side of Virginia Tech every year.

We are the definition of insanity. We will tune in again in a couple of weeks and convince ourselves again that Pitt will beat North Carolina and pray that they hold for a win this time to help the team reach a bowl game. Every win counts, right? Guys? Right?

Hello?

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