fails The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History  

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Call them sports failures or call them upsets - either way, these sports teams and athletes embarrassed themselves and shocked people around the globe by making history, and not in a good way. These professional MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL teams, as well as individual athletes all squandered leads, stunk up their seasons, or lost at the worst possible moments to create the biggest sports collapses of all time. These are the most notorious upsets in sports history.

At best, these teams and athletes prove that where there is great expectation is often where the biggest disappointments arise. At worst, they've made fools of themselves in such a way as for it to go down in history.

These sports teams had huge leads in games, were way ahead in the standings, or had nearly won a game, series, or championship, but at the last minute collapsed completely and lost after coming so close to victory. It's not the best way to remember these teams, but unfortunately their collapses live on in infamy.
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2004 New York Yankees

2004 New York Yankees is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
The scene was game four of the 2004 American League Championship Series and the New York Yankees led the Series three games to none against fierce rivals Boston Red Sox. It was the bottom of the ninth and the Yankees, up 4-3 in Boston, needed just three outs to advance to the World Series.

Three outs they got, but not before Boston added a run to tie the game at four. Another three innings followed with the Red Sox stealing two more runs in the 12th to take the game. So the Sox take one game, leaving the Yankees with a 3-1 lead. No big deal, right? Wrong. The Red Sox did the unthinkable and swept the next three games to take the series, including one game in 14 innings. As New York sat back stunned of the massive lead they'd blown, Boston went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals in the World Series for the championship.
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2007 New England Patriots

2007 New England Patriots is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
Led by studly quarterback Tom Brady, the 2007 New England Patriots became the first team in National Football League history to complete a 16-game season with a perfect, undefeated record. Along with top receivers like Wes Wekler and Randy Moss, the perfect Patriots were heavily favored to win the Super Bowl, similar to the 1972 Miami Dolphins who won each of their regular season games before winning the championship as well.

New England easily reached Super Bowl XLII, defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers along the way, but suffered an embarrassing collapse in the big game. Brady and company finished with an 18-1 overall record after dropping the championship game 17-14 to the New York Giants.
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1992 AFC Wild-Card Game

1992 AFC Wild-Card Game is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
Casually known as simply "The Comeback," this super sports collapse involved a 32-point deficit that was squandered by one team in a very important NFL Playoff game. It all took place on January 3, 1993, in Buffalo, New York, as the Buffalo Bills hosted the Houston Oilers in the AFC Wild Card Game.

Houston built a 28-3 lead going into halftime, leading many to think that they'd clinched the game. Buffalo however had other plans as they added five consecutive touchdowns to take a 38-35 lead. The Oilers tied the game at 38-all with a field goal, but the Bills prevailed in overtime. Buffalo went on to reach Super Bowl XXVII where their run ended with a 52-17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
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2010-11 Miami Heat

2010-11 Miami Heat is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
After former Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James announced on live television that he was "taking his talents to South Beach," the pressure was on the 2010-11 Miami Heat National Basketball Association team to achieve greatness. The Heat had a dream team of James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and others, making them early favorites for the championship.

Miami had a successful regular season, finishing with a 58-24 record to win the Southeast Division and enter the NBA Playoffs as the second seed in the East. Their stellar run took them all the way to the NBA Finals where they faced the Dallas Mavericks. Once again, Miami was favored to win but they were humbled when Dallas took the series and the championship from them in six games.
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1999 British Open

1999 British Open is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
Unlike many of the other notable sports collapses on this list, the disaster at the 1999 British Open was not created by a poor team effort, but rather by an unfortunate play from a single athlete, golfer Jean Van de Velde. In an attempt to become the first Frenchman to win the tournament, Van de Velde built a substantial lead going into the 18th hole and had nearly already won the title.

That lead however was squandered in the final strokes. Van de Velde could finish with a double bogey, or six strokes on the par four, and still win the event. Unfortunately for him, Van de Velde ran into a water hazard and needed seven strokes to finish the hole. That was only one too many but it allowed Paul Lawrie to take the championship.
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2006 Insight Bowl

2006 Insight Bowl is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
Setting a record for the biggest comeback in NCAA Football Division I FBS bowl history, the 2006 Insight Bowl also featured the biggest collapse in college football in a single game. Coming in at 7-5, the Texas Tech Red Raiders were slightly favored over the 6-6 Minnesota Golden Gophers but fell way behind through the first three quarters in a 38-7 deficit with only eight minutes to play. The Gophers nearly had the bowl game won when the Red Raiders came back to add 31-unanswered points to tie the game at 38-all.

Texas Tech forced overtime but Minnesota got the ball first in the extra session. The Gophers drive down the field in six plays to score a field goal, but the Red Raiders answered right back with a five-play touchdown run to win the game. Unsurprisingly just days after the collapse, Minnesota head coach Glen Mason was fired.

Golden State Warriors is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo: Bob Donnan/USA Today Sports
A year after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, the Warriors looked set for a repeat. After one of the single most phenomenal seasons in the history of the game, Golden State was up 3-1, even if that single loss was a pantsing of a game. But with a two-game lead and a record-breaking regular season record of 73-9 (better even than the legendary '95 to '96 Bulls) the Warriors had this all locked down, right?

Nope. Instead, the Cavs became the first team in Finals history to overcome a 3-1 deficit. With Steph Curry's three-point mojo utterly abandoning him just as LeBron James and Kyrie Irving activated their Wonder Twin powers, the championship went to seven games, seven games Golden State lost in dramatic, unexpected, and embarrassing fashion. How big a fiasco was it? A frustrated Curry was ejected from the penultimate game after throwing his mouth guard into the crowd, inadvertently hitting a fan.

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2011 Boston Red Sox

2011 Boston Red Sox is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo:  uploaded by Arthur Roderick
After leading the American League East Division for most of the second half of the 2011 season, the Boston Red Sox went from heavy favorites to failing to qualify for the MLB Postseason after one heck of a collapse. The Red Sox first fell behind the New York Yankees in the division, but still held a nine-game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays as the season entered September, the final month of the season.

However, Boston collapsed in September, winning only seven games and entering the final day of the season, September 28, tied with Tampa Bay. A Rays loss and Red Sox win would have put Boston in the playoffs, and that looked pretty likely as Tampa Bay went down 0-7 against the Yankees in their final game. The Rays went on to not only come back, but also win the game in extra innings, while the Red Sox, after a rain delay, fell to the Baltimore Orioles, ending their post-season run before it even began.