Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson blamed his side's terrible first quarter and a lack of composure in the dying minutes for their heart-stopping loss to Geelong.
The Hawks trailed by 51 points early in the second quarter yet fought back to take an eight-point lead in time-on of Friday night's blockbuster at the MCG.
But, after the Hawks missed two shots at goal that would have iced the match, Cats forward Tom Hawkins booted two majors in three minutes, including one as the siren sounded, to deny Hawthorn a sensational come-from-behind victory.
"He's become a very, very good player and he's a very good kick,'' Clarkson said of Hawkins, who booted the match-winner from 55m.
"A lot of those guys are better shots at goal from greater distances so I thought there was a fair chance he was going to kick it.
"You just watch and hope in the end. Probably half of them from that distance go through and half of them don't and we were stiff tonight that that one went through.''
The Hawks, who have now lost their past nine matches against Geelong, played the final few minutes as if they were behind on the scoreboard rather than in front and rushed their disposals instead of maintaining possession.
In light of their lacklustre start, Clarkson wasn't sure if he was more disappointed with the way the Hawks started or finished the game.
"Are you allowed to have both? The start and the finish disappointed me a bit,'' he said.
"I was pleased with the resilience of our group that we fought back and got ourselves back into the contest and from that position probably should have won the game.
"We just lacked a little bit of composure in the last bit of the game, we had a couple of opportunities where we could have held the ball up and just taken some time off the clock and we failed to do that.
"We live and learn the hard way unfortunately.''
For the winners, assistant coach Blake Caracella did most of the talking in the place of a hoarse Chris Scott.
Caracella said with four games remaining in the season, the Cats were building the momentum needed to be a threat in the finals.
"I think tonight guarantees we have got a lot of momentum towards the finals," he said.
"If you look at the last nine or 10 weeks we have lost two games. One was to Sydney by a kick and we had one bad game against the Pies."