Rory McIlroy (R) and Ian Poulter congratulating themselves after keeping Europe in the race
The United States took five of the eight points on offer on Saturday to go into the final day's play of the 39th Ryder Cup at Medinah with a 10-6 lead.
Inspired once again by the all-conquering pairing of Keegan Bradley and Phil Mickelson, Davis Love III's team won three of the four morning foursomes and looked like repeating the trick in the afternoon's fourballs, reports the BBC.
But dramatic late points from Luke Donald and Sergio Garcia, Rory McIlroy and the brilliant Ian Poulter - his third of the competition - gave Europe late hope of an unlikely comeback.
"That was unbelievable," said Poulter, who notched up his 11th victory in 14 matches, despite being two down with six holes to play.
"We had to get something going. From then on my putter warmed up nicely, having been pretty cold for the first 13 holes.
"Then it just went crazy. It was tough out there. We're in Chicago, they've had a few drinks today and they weren't making it easy for us. I will be honest, it was brutal."
USA 10-6 Europe
The hosts were consistently superior on the slippery, sloping Medinah greens, nailing clutch putts as Europe's players struggled to read the fast lines.
Since the competition expanded to include mainland Europe in 1979, the biggest comeback on the final day of singles came at Brookline in 1999, when the US overhauled a 10-6 deficit on the Sunday to win by a single point.
If that is a chastening statistic for the visitors' captain Jose Maria Olazabal, he knows his side will have no chance at all unless there is a dramatic reversal of form from the first two days.
The gap between the two sides has at times been immense, not only on the overall scoreboard but in too many individual matches.
In a horribly one-sided morning session, Mickelson and Keegan Bradley had equalled the biggest foursomes win in Ryder Cup history as the US roared out to an 8-4 lead.
The American pairing had won both their foursomes and fourballs matches on Friday and were even more dominant in a crushing 7&6 win over Luke Donald and Lee Westwood.
Their margin was almost matched in the afternoon by Bubba Watson and Webb Simpson's 5&4 butchering of Justin Rose and Francesco Molinari.
Watson has been one of the darlings of the pumped-up Medinah crowd, and his huge driving on a course with almost no rough, allied to Simpson's vastly improved putting, were a matchless combination.
Dustin Johnson drained a 30-footer on the 17th green to establish a late winning lead for his pairing with Matt Kuchar over Paul Lawrie and Nicolas Colsaerts as Europe came close to capitulation.
In a see-saw match, the Belgian rookie Colsaerts almost holed his approach to rescue a half on the 18th.
But as so often on a frustrating afternoon the European ball flirted with the hole yet refused to drop, and when Colsaerts could only run the resulting 15-foot putt past the right edge, the American pair had the point.
Garcia and Donald had been four-up on Woods and Stricker at the turn, only for a previously out-of-touch Woods to find his touch on the back nine and embark on a birdie blitz.
A nerveless eight-foot putt from Donald on the 15th restored a two-hole advantage with three to play before Woods conjured up yet another birdie on 16 to leave Europe just one up.