Sports Collapses That Left Fans Questioning Their Loyalty

Sports | 10/30/20

Few moments in sports are more heartbreaking than when your favorite team is on the cusp of reaching ultimate glory only to collapse at the worst moment. Falcons fans will never forget their team blowing a 28-3 halftime lead in the Super Bowl. That epic collapse isn’t the only one that has left fanbases questioning their team loyalty. From the Atlanta Braves NLCS collapse of 2020 to the Yankees 2004 ALCS disaster, these are the worst collapses in sports history.

The Braves Blow A 3-1 Series Lead In The 2020 NLCS

atlanta braves 2020 nlcs
Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images
Cooper Neill/MLB Photos via Getty Images

This one might not sting as much as the Falcons’ Super Bowl collapse from 2017, but coming just three years later it didn’t help heal any wounds, either. The Atlanta Braves took a commanding 3-1 series lead against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2020 NLCS only to watch it fade away in historic fashion.

The Braves pitching had stifled the Dodgers, and it looked like Los Angeles was set for another fall disappointment for their fans. Then their bats awoke. Even with Atlanta’s best pitchers on the mound, the Dodgers began crushing the ball, won three in a row, and punched their ticket to the World Series.

The Falcons And The Lead That Wasn’t Big Enough

falcons super bowl collapse
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The Atlanta Falcons dominated the 2016 NFL season. Quarterback Matt Ryan had a record-setting year, won the league MVP award, and cruised through the playoffs into the Super Bowl. Facing the New England Patriots in January 2017, the Falcons surged to a 28-3 halftime lead.

Then, like a surgeon, Tom Brady led the comeback that seemed impossible. The Falcons’ defense was turned into Swiss cheese by the future Hall of Famer, and fans couldn’t believe their eyes. This is one collapse fans will never get over.

The Yankees Found Themselves On The Wrong Side Of History In 2004

2004 alcs yankees
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

For over 80 years, the Boston Red Sox had to face the “Curse of the Bambino.” The team had last won the World Series in 1918, and it didn’t look like things were going to change in the 2004 ALCS as the Yankees jumped out to the 3-0 series lead.

Much to the shock of the Yankees, and the entire sports world, the Red Sox refused to give up. They stormed back to win four straight games, becoming the first team to ever overcome a 3-0 Championship Series deficit. As for New York, the Yankees returned to the playoffs the next season but failed to make it past the ALDS.

The Warriors Blow A 3-1 Lead To LeBron James

steph curry nba finals
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Even though a championship came the year before and after this collapse, Golden State Warriors fans haven’t been able to shrug it off because the team should have won a three-peat, which would have put them in rarified NBA air.

In the NBA Finals, the Warriors had a 3-1 series lead over LeBron James and the Cavaliers. James, who made it his mission to bring a title to Cleveland, seemed to single-handedly dominate the next three games, crushing the Warriors’ egos in the process.

The 2003 Chicago Cubs Fell Apart After Fan Interference

kerry wood of the cubs in the 2003 nlcs
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The 2003 Chicago Cubs are one of those teams that felt like they had destiny on the side. No MLB club had more talent that season, and the curse that haunted the franchise seemed poised to be broken.

Then disaster struck. The Cubs led the NLCS 3-2 and were up on the Florida Marlins 3-0 late in the game when a foul ball than should have been an out was deflected by a fan named Steve Bartman. The Marlins scored eight runs that inning then won game seven and the World Series.

The New York Knicks Fell Victim To Reggie Miller

knicks v pacers 1995
EUGENE GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images
EUGENE GARCIA/AFP via Getty Images

The New York Knicks should have won game one of the 1995 Eastern Conference Semifinals. They had a commanding 105-99 lead over the Indiana Pacers with 18.7 seconds left in the game. The fate of the Pacers was sealed in everyone’s eyes except Reggie Miller’s.

Miller quickly, and miraculously, scored nine points in eight seconds. The Knicks were left stunned, and so was the NBA world. The Pacers won the series, and his one-game collapse went into the history books as one of the biggest of all-time.

The Chiefs Blow A 38-10 Leads In The Playoffs

alex smith of the chiefs
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Before Patrick Mahomes was the quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs it was Alex Smith, and his team looked unstoppable for three quarters in the 2013 AFC Wild-Card game. The Chiefs built a 38-10 third-quarter lead against Andrew Luck and the Colts before the wheels fell off.

The Colts stormed back, creating one of the most exciting playoff games of all-time. Once the final second ran off the clock, Indianapolis had won the game 45-44.

Jordan Spieth Melted Down At The 2016 Masters

The Masters jordan spieth collapse
Andrew Redington/Getty Images
Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Jordan Spieth had a five-shot lead heading into the final rounds of the Masters in 2016. He was 22-years-old at the time, and the moment proved too big for him. Over the next several holes he bogeyed multiple times and his five-shot lead turned into a three-shot deficit he couldn’t overcome.

About the epic collapse, Spieth said, “It was a really tough 30 minutes for me that hopefully I never experience again.”

The New York Giants’ Wild Card Debacle Of 2003

2003 wild card game between the giants an 49ers
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Taking place on January 5, 2003, the NFC Wild-Card game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers was exactly that — wild. The Giants held a 38-14 lead in the second half before the 49ers stormed back to score 25 unanswered pointed in 16 minutes.

New York nearly avoided the embarrassment of the collapse with a last-second field goal that would have won the game. Unfortunately, the snap was bad and what should have been a game-winning field goal turned into an incomplete pass, sealing the fate of the Giants in the history books.

The Green Bay Packers Fell Apart With Two Minutes To Go In 2014

Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks nfc championship game collapse
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The table was set in 2014 for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers to reach the Super Bowl. They had dominated the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC Championship game and held a 19-7 lead with three left in the game.

Seattle then scored a touchdown on a fake field goal, making the score 19-14 with 2:09 remaining. All Green Bay had to do was recover the onsides kick and they would have won. Destiny had other plans. Seattle recovered the kick, scored, and won the game in overtime.

The Boston Red Sox Lost A 12-Game Division Lead

Yankees Versus the Red Sox for the 1978 division title
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images
Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

Sports are all about momentum. A team can go hot or cold at the end of a season and have everything change. That’s exactly what happened with the Boston Red Sox in 1978. The team held a 12-game lead over the New York Yankees heading into the final stretch of the season.

Boston blew the lead and was forced to play a one-game tiebreaker with New York to determine the division winner. The Yankees won and would go on to win the World Series. The Red Sox would have to wait 26 more years.

The Houston Oilers May Have The Worst Collapse In NFL History

1992 houston oilers playoff collapse
Joel Zwink/Getty Images
Joel Zwink/Getty Images

Today the Houston Oilers are better known as the Tennessee Titans, but before they moved to the Music City, they were collapsing on the world’s biggest stage. The Oilers played the Buffalo Bills in the 1992 AFC Wild-Card game and held a 35-3 lead in the third quarter.

Bills fans, believing the game was over, began exiting the stadium in droves. The Oilers’ players must have thought the game was over, too, because they stopped giving a championship effort. The Bills stormed back to win, and Houston never recovered from the embarrassment.

The Detroit Lions Went 0-16 In 2008

dan orlovsky of the detroit lions
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The 2008 Detroit Lions may have had the worst season in the history of the NFL. The team wasn’t supposed to be good, but no one expected them to be the first in NFL history to lose every single regular-season game in a 16-game schedule.

The low-light of the season was when quarterback Dan Orlovsky took a snap in the endzone, then stepped out of bounds. The play resulted in two points for the other team. At the end of the season, the entire coaching staff was fired.

Clayton Kershaw And His Postseason Woes

clayton kershaw dodgers
Harry How/Getty Images
Harry How/Getty Images

It took Clayton Kershaw 12 years in MLB before overcoming his postseason collapses. Arguably the best pitcher of his generation, the three-time Cy Young Award winner was also known as a choke artist come October.

In the 2013 ALCS, Kershaw allowed seven earned runs in four-plus innings. In game one of the 2014 NLDS, he allowed eight runs before pulled. Throughout the entire 2017 postseason he allowed an MLB playoff record eight home runs.

The Houston Rockets Miss 27 Straight Three-Pointers

james harden rockets
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Next to the Warriors, the Houston Rockets have been one of the most consistent NBA teams of the last decade. In 2018, the Rockets won 65 games and were the number one playoff seed when they faced Golden State in Western Conference Finals.

In full dramatic fashion, the series reached its culmination in game seven. The Rockets had a double-digit lead with roughly 18 minutes left in the game. Then James Harden missed a three-pointer, and the team followed his lead, missing 26 more in a row. The Warriors quickly turned a double-digit deficit into a double-digit lead, ultimately winning the game.

The Golden Gophers Gave Up 31 Points In Eight Minutes

insight bowl 2006
Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images
Marlin Levison/Star Tribune via Getty Images

In 2006, the Minnesota Golden Gophers faced off against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Insight Bowl. The Red Raiders were favored in the game but got crushed for three quarters. Minnesota held a 38-7 lead with eight minutes left in the game. You can probably guess what happened.

Texas Tech scored 31 unanswered points, in eight minutes, and forced overtime, winning. Minnesota head coach Glen Mason was fired by the university shortly after.

The Patriots Almost Went Undefeated

giants v patriots
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The 2007 New England Patriots were unstoppable during the regular season. They won every game they played, Tom Brady threw 50 touchdown passes, and Randy Moss caught a record 23 TDs. When they made it to the Super Bowl, they were considered heavy favorites over the New York Giants.

The Giants pulled out one of the most shocking victories in NFL history, defeating New England 17-14. As for the Patriots, fans still have nightmares about David Tyree’s helmet catch as seen in the picture here.

The 1993 Dolphins Went From Super Bowl Contenders To Missing The Playoffs Entirely

1993 Miami Dolphins
Focus on Sport/Getty Images
Focus on Sport/Getty Images

The 1993 Miami Dolphins were considered Super Bowl favorites in 1993. They started the season 9-2, even winning after Dan Marino got hurt and Scott Mitchell became the starting QB.

Then Scott Mitchell got hurt and the wheels fell off. Miami lost the last five games of the season. The losing streaking not only cost them the AFC East Title, which went to the Buffalo Bills, but it also cost them a spot in the playoffs.

The St. Louis Cardinals Couldn’t Finish Off San Francisco In 2012

St Louis Cardinals nlcs collapse
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The St. Louis Cardinals looked primed in 2012 to make it their second straight World Series. They took on the San Francisco Giants and quickly jumped out to a 3-1 series lead in the seven-game series.

The pesky Giants refused to go down quietly, and smothered the Cardinals over the next three games, scoring 19 combined runs. St. Louis only scored one run over the final three games and were sent home from the Bay Area packing.

The 2011 Red Sox Had A Historically Bad September

david ortiz Boston Red Sox
Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images
Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images

The Boston Red Sox may have broken the “Curse of the Bambino” in 2004, but that doesn’t mean it was all sunshine afterward. The 2011 season was particularly rough on the team, who was leading the AL East heading into the final months of the season.

As the final month started, the Yankees overtook Boston atop the division. Still, the team held a 9.5 game lead over the Tampa Bay Rays, so they were still set to make the playoffs. Winning only seven games, however, was not the recipe for success. The Rays took over second place on the last day of the season and Boston failed to qualify for the postseason.