The 7 Biggest Team Chokes in Sports History

#7 – 1964 Philadelphia Phillies

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*The Setup:* Philadelphia had a 6 1/2 game lead over the Cardinals with 13 games left in the regular season.

The Choke: The Phillies went on a 10-game losing streak and the Cardinals won the pennant.

The Bright Side: Phillies slugger Dick Allen routinely had racial slurs shouted at him by Philadelphia fans, even when the team was winning. It got so bad that he had to wear a batting helmet onto the field because his hometown fans would throw food, cups and batteries at him. Really. So the fact that the Phillies choked and gave these people nothing to celebrate was easily the best possible outcome.

#6 – 2007 New York Mets

The Setup: The Mets had a 7-game lead over the Phillies in the National League East with 17 to play.

The Choke: The Mets finish the season 5-12, including 5 of 6 at home to the lowly Marlins and Nationals in front of 48,000-plus every night to close.

The Bright Side: At least the choke job at home didn't come in the final games ever at Shea Stadium. No, Shea closed a year later when the Mets blew only a 3 1/2-game lead in September to lose the division again. See? A slightly less depressing way to say goodbye to the stadium.

#5 – 1951 Brooklyn Dodgers

The Setup: Brooklyn held a 12 1/2 game lead over the Giants on August 12th.

The Choke: By the final game of the season, the entire lead was gone and an extra game was scheduled between the Dodgers and Giants to decide the National League pennant. Feeling they hadn't choked enough, the Dodgers took a 4-1 lead into the 9th inning and then blew that, too.

The Bright Side: The Nets are now in Brooklyn. No doubt they'll do a ton of humiliating things that will make everyone forget 1951.

#4 – 2007 New England Patriots

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*The Setup:* The Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season in dominating fashion, winning on average by more than 19 points, and came into the Super Bowl looking to be the first team to go 19-0.

The Choke: The Patriots lost to the lightly-regarded Giants, 17-14, their lowest point output of the season by six points.

The Bright Side: Uhhhhhh … everything. There wasn't a dark side. And between the Mets and Patriots, 2007 was an historic year for large market failure. It was also the year before the economy collapsed. Hmmm. You know what? Historians may one day call 2007 the greatest year ever.

#3 – 2004 New York Yankees

The Setup: The Yankees led the Red Sox three games to none in the 2004 ALCS and were up 4-3 in the 9th inning of Game 4.

The Choke: Mariano Rivera blew the save, then the Yankees proceeded to lose the next three, allowing Boston to go to the World Series for an easy title over the Cardinals.

The Bright Side: New York's collapse gave rise to everyone blaming Alex Rodriguez for all of the team's failures, which in turn helped New York newspapers stay afloat during a tough time for the industry.

#2 – 1992 Houston Oilers

The Setup: The Oilers led Buffalo 28-3 at halftime in an AFC wildcard game and took a quick 35-3 lead to open the third quarter on a kick return.

The Choke: Buffalo's backup quarterback Frank Reich shredded Houston's defense from then on, leading Buffalo to 35 unanswered points and the Bills went on to win 41-38 in overtime.

The Bright Side: Such colossal postseason failure let Houston residents know that making the playoffs can be very painful, which is why they're very content with the Texans being a regular season-only team.

#1 – 1980 Soviet Union Olympic Hockey Team

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*The Setup:* The Soviet Union was considered the best hockey team in the world, NHL included — the Soviets had gone 5-3-1 against NHL teams that year and beat the NHL All-Stars 6-0 the previous season. The Soviets showed their domination in the early-round games, going 5-0 and winning by a combined score of 51-11.

The Choke: In the semifinal round against a team of amateur and collegiate players from the United States, a weak hockey nation, the USSR lost 4-3.

The Bright Side: Everyone in the world realized that democracy is, like, totally awesome. Plus, we all started believing in miracles.

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