Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Worst Chokes in New York Sports History

Maybe I have a morbid fascination with death, or I am simply a drama whore. Either way, despite the fact I am not a Giants fan, I couldn't help but marvel at one of the most unforgettable NFL games of my lifetime this past Sunday. When the history of the NFL is written, we will talk about Sunday's 38-31 Eagles comeback in the same breath as the Buffalo-Houston, Giants-San Francisco, and Jets-Dolphins epic comebacks. Giant fans will take this loss to their graves, no matter if their team makes the playoffs or even makes another miracle Super Bowl run.

It got me to think of the worst chokes in the history of New York sports. And there have been plenty between all eleven professional sports teams in the Tri-State area. New York sports haters, this is your day to smile! Here we go...

10. Reggie Miller scores eight points in the final 12 seconds of Game 1 of the 1995 Playoffs to shock the Knicks.
This was the lowest moment of the Patrick Ewing era. Miller had scared the living daylight out of the Knicks in the previous year's playoffs with his epic Game 5 performance, and he shattered their hearts into pieces the next year, and relished every single moment of it. The Pacers go on to win the series in 7 games, thereby ending possibly the last legit chance for the Knicks to win an NBA title in the Ewing era.

9. Dan Marino's fake spike against the Jets in the 1994 season.
In one of the biggest regular season games in the history of the Jets franchise, they held a 24-21 lead in the final seconds. Marino took a snap, then looked up and froze dead in his tracks, thereby throwing off the rhythm of the Jet defense. Suddenly, Marino threw a perfect strike to reciever Mark Ingram in the corner of the end zone, shocking the Jets and ending their opportunity to move into first place in the AFC East. The Jets would go on to lose their last four games and finish 6-10. Head coach Pete Carroll was fired after the season.

8. Miracle at the New Meadowlands.
You know how it happened. 31-10 Giants with 7 1/2 minutes to go. The Eagles score. The Eagles recover an onside kick the Giants were totally unprepared for. Michael Vick ran wild. The Eagles tie the game. Punter Matt Dodge fails to punt out of bounds. DeSean Jackson goes all the way. Tom Coughlin throws Dodge under the bus on the field. The Giants blow their chance at the NFC East title.

7. Giants blow 38-14 lead in 2003 playoffs to San Francisco, lose 39-38.
This all culminated with journeyman long snapper Trey Junkin's botched snap, and the failed hail mary desperation pass by punter Matt Allen (with a missed pass interference call). This marked the beginning of the end of the Jim Fassel/Kerry Collins era. Two years later, Eli Manning and Tom Coughlin arrived.

6. Mariano Rivera blows 2001 World Series Game 7.
Even the greatest of all time is human. Everything that could go wrong did go wrong for Mo in the bottom of the 9th inning in Arizona. An errant throw, a double down the right field line, a hit batsmen, and a bloop single over a drawn-in infield. It was the end of the Joe Torre dynasty, as Paul O'Neill and Scott Brosius retired, and Tino Martinez left as a free agent. The Yankees would suffer more postseason failures until their 27th title in 2009.

5. Jets lose '86 AFC Division playoffs to Browns in Double OT.
Gang Green appeared to be on their way to the AFC Title game with a 20-10 lead close to the two minute warning of the 4th quarter until Mark Gastineau got flagged for roughing the passer. Given new life, Bernie Kosar led the Browns to a touchdown and a field goal before the end of regulation. The Browns would win the game on a Mark Moseley field goal in the second overtime period, ending the Jets' best chance to win a Super Bowl in the Ken O'Brien era.

4. Brooklyn Dodgers blow a 13 game lead, lose pennant to Giants in 1951.
Whether or not the Giants were stealing signs, the Dodgers still pulled off one of the epic regular season collapses in the history of baseball, culminating with the Shot Heard 'Round the World, which still resonates to this day.

3. Mets blow 7 game lead with 17 games to play in 2007.
This collapse still haunts this franchise to this day. The Mets became the first team in MLB history to blow a 7 game division lead with 17 games to play, ending with future Hall of Famer Tom Glavine allowing 7 runs in the first inning of Game 162 against the Florida Marlins. The Mets missed out on the division and wild card (to the archrival Phillies no less) as a result. The next year, though not as epic, the Mets again lost to the Marlins on the final day of the regular season in the final game at Shea Stadium to miss the playoffs by one game.

2. Miracle at the Meadowlands (1978).
They say every cloud has a silver line, and this is the greatest example in the history of the NFL. The Giants were a sad-sack franchise at the time. Joe Picsarcik fumbling a handoff to Larry Csonka, recovered by future Jet head coach Herm Edwards and returned for a touchdown to give the Eagles an unfathomable victory was rock bottom for the G-Men. But not only did this play change the franchise for the better, but it changed the NFL. As a result of this play, every single NFL team (or football team, for that matter), instructs their quarterback to take a knee with possession of the ball and lead in the final seconds of a game, simply to avoid a similar fate. As for the Giants, they fired their entire coaching staff and front office, and brought on George Young. He would go on to hire Bill Parcells as head coach, and draft Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms. This lead to a new era in Giants football, including two Super Bowl wins. The Giants have become one of the most respected and classy organizations in all of sports since.

1. Yankees blow 3-0 series lead to Red Sox in 2004 ALCS.

Honorable Mentions
Yankees blow 1995 ALDS to Mariners
Yankees blow 1981 World Series to Dodgers, Steinbrenner breaks hand
Mets lose 1988 NLCS Game 4 on Mike Scioscia's HR
Giants blow 1997 playoff game against Minnesota
Doug Brien misses two field goals at the end of regulation, Jets lose 2004 AFC Divisional playoff to Steelers in OT
Jets miss 2008 playoffs with Brett Favre and Eric Mangini after 8-3 start.
Knicks blow 3-1 series lead in 1997 playoffs to Miami after Game 5 brawl at the Garden
Chris Drury scores with 7.7 seconds left, Sabres beat Rangers in OT in Game 5 of 2007 Conference Semifinal
Rangers blow 3-1 series lead to Capitals in 2009 playoffs
Devils allow two goals in final minute of Game 7 of 2009 first round to Carolina

NFL Picks for Week 16 (1-3 last week, 17-19 overall)
GB +2 over NYG
CLE +3 over Bal
Sd -7 over CIN
Det +3 1/2 over MIA

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