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Keith Allison

Comebacks (or Collapses) Show the Falcons Were Not Alone


Photo Courtesy: Keith Allison

 

 

The Atlanta Falcons gave up the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI, and this without a doubt tarnished a season in which the team broke multiple offensive records and had All-Pro years from several key players. As bad as it was though, there are other comebacks/collapses from other franchises and individual players from other sports that have been just as good—or bad, depending on your perspective.

 

1.  Golden State Warriors – 2016-2017 Season

Golden State’s 2016 championship loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers might have been one of the worst collapses of all time because it was so multi-faceted. After storming through the regular season and achieving a record-setting 73 wins, the Warriors were leading the Finals 3 games to 1, and they were in prime position to close out the series and win their second consecutive championship. After failing to convert on opportunities to close the series in Games 5 and 6, Golden State squandered a 4th quarter lead in Game 7, and lost the championship on their home court. After making history during the regular season, the Warriors did so again when they became the first team in NBA history to lose in the championship round after being up 3-1.

 

2. New England Patriots, 2008 Season

Although the 2017 Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots were on the right side of history this year, the themselves suffered their own collapse not even 10 years ago, to the New York Giants. The Patriots had weaved their way through an undefeated season, and were right on the cusp of joining the historic 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only other team in the NFL to go through an entire season without suffering a single loss. The Patriots held the lead within the final 2 minutes of the game, and after holding the Giants without a touchdown through three quarters, all the defense had to do was keep them out of the end zone one more time to cap the legendary season. Under heavy pressure, quarterback Eli Manning managed to fight off several defenders and heaved up a prayer to David Tyree, who will forever be known for his helmet catch that catapulted everything the Patriots had worked so hard to accomplish that season out of the window. Manning would throw a touchdown in the closing seconds, and the Giants would go on to destroy the Patriots’ perfect season by winning Super Bowl XLII.

 

3. Jordan Spieth, 2016 Masters Tournament

Jordan Spieth is hands down one of the best young golfers in the game right now, and the legendary list of players that he was so close to joining is truly remarkable. Holding a 5 shot lead with 9 holes remaining in the 2016 Masters, Spieth had a golden opportunity to become the youngest player to win back-to-back Masters championships, and it would have been his second title in only three appearances. What happened instead though, was a collapse so great that it eventually became downright difficult to watch. Despite bogeying consecutive holes, Spieth was still in the driver’s seat heading to the 12th hole, but his quadruple bogey 7 pretty much sealed his fate, and he would finish tied for runner-up, behind the tournament’s winner Danny Willett.

 

For every historic comeback that demonstrates one player or team’s sheer desire to be champions, there is another team on the opposing sideline that had victory within their grasp but couldn’t provide an equally as clutch performance when it mattered the most. Such is the nature of competitive sports though, and these unexpected highs and lows is what will keep fans coming back for more.

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