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The Biggest Sports Team Collapses in History

Updated November 6, 2017 1.4k votes 185 voters 32.8k views18 items

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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.
  • 5

    1992 AFC Wild-Card Game

    Photo: flickr / CC0

    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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  • 6

    1996 Masters

    Usually in golf, a six-stroke lead is ginormous. To lose when you're up that much is pretty rare, but as Greg Norman showed at the 1996 Masters Tournament, it's far from impossible. Spoiler: Norman squandered away a six-stroke lead and lost the tournament to Nick Faldo.

    Norman absolutely collapsed during the back nine on the final round of the tournament. He could have golfed at par and still won, but he played just horribly. In holes nine through 12 he recorded three bogeys and a double bogey. That, along with strong play from Faldo, put Norman squarely out of the lead at a depressing six-over 78. Faldo won the Masters with a combined score of -12 for easy win over the -7 Norman.
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  • 7

    1964 Philadelphia Phillies

    Photo: flickr / CC0

    Decades before the Boston Red Sox blew a huge lead in the 2011 season, the Philadelphia Phillies did nearly the same thing back in 1964. Philly was 6.5 games up late in September with only 12 games left. They were a lock to make the playoffs - at least it was before a late road trip ended their season in a full collapse.

    The Phillies lost 10 games in a row to drop from first place to a tie for second. The St. Louis Cardinals, who never appeared in first place until the last week of the season, won the National League pennant and went on to defeat the New York Yankees in the 1964 World Series.
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  • 8

    1993 Miami Dolphins

    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY

    As many NFL teams have experienced throughout the years, losing a top quarterback to injury during the season is perhaps the worst thing that can happen. Many teams were able to rebound with a strong backup passer and finish the year in a respectable manner, but unfortunately the 1993 Miami Dolphins were not one of those teams.

    The Dolphins started the 1993 season with an impressive 9-2 record, especially considering they lost top quarterback Dan Marino in week six. Miami looked primed for a Super Bowl run, that was until they lost backup quarterback Scott Mitchell and went on to drop the final five games of the season. The Dolphins fell behind the Buffalo Bills in the AFC East and didn't even qualify for the playoffs.
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