fails The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History  

Arthur Roderick
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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: via Wikimedia

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: via Imgur

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: via Wikimedia

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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1999 British Open


1999 British Open is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History
Photo: via Twitter

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.