The U.S. had a 10-6 lead heading into Sunday, but Europe came roaring back in the final day to win 14.5 to 13.5. It was humiliating finish for an American squad that was playing on their home soil, and has only beat Europe twice since 1999.
Martin Kaymer secured the vital point to retain the Cup as the German beat Steve Stricker one up.
"It's indescribable," said Kaymer. "I was so nervous the last two, three holes. I loved it. It's amazing."
Tiger Woods helped ensure Europe the victory when he missed a three-foot par putt on the 18th hole.
This was the first Ryder Cup without the late Seve Ballesteros, considered by many to be Europe's greatest golfer. Ballesteros died in May 2011, and fellow Spaniard Jose Maria Olazabal had made an effort to invoke the golf legend in the tournament.
Rory McIlroy just missed being disqualified for being late for the tee time, as he watching the Golf Channel before showing up in a police car. The North Irishman beat Keegan Bradley with no warm-up.