Soccer fans are still in awe of Barcelona’s remarkable come-from-behind victory over Paris Saint-Germain Wednesday in Champions League action.
From Barcelona’s perspective it was a demonstration of doggedness. If you’re PSG, it was a mortifying meltdown.
PSG isn’t alone in the annals of sports choke jobs, though, so with that in mind here are some other jaw-dropping sports collapses.
Falcons blow it against Patriots in Super Bowl LI
This game might one day become a callus on the hearts and minds of Falcons players, coaches and fans, toughening them up in the long-term – but for now it remains a fresh, painful blister.
The Falcons were up 28-9 at halftime when Lady Gaga put a hex on offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. That’s the only explanation we can come up with because Atlanta’s second-half game plan and refusal to run out the clock was truly baffling and inexcusable. Up 28-12 midway through the fourth quarter, Matt Ryan was strip-sacked by Dont’a Hightower and the Patriots recovered on Atlanta’s 25-yard line. The Patriots scored on the ensuing drive and succeeded on the two-point conversion, but the real question was: “Why on earth were the Falcons running a five-step drop from shotgun when it was 3rd-and-1 on your own 36-yard line?”
That’s not even the worst part. With 4:38 remaining in the fourth, Ryan completed a beautiful 27-yard pass to Julio Jones, who made an incredible catch along the sidelines. This put the Falcons, who were still leading by eight, 1st-and-10 at the New England 22-yard line.
In theory all Atlanta had to do was run the ball three times and either wind the clock down or force the Patriots to use their remaining timeouts, then kick a makable field goal to go up two scores. Instead, after a one-yard loss from Devonta Freeman, the Falcons went back to the passing attack. On the next play Ryan was sacked for a 12-yard loss, then Atlanta took a holding penalty bumping them out of field-goal range, then threw an incomplete pass and were forced to punt.
The rest is history. The Patriots marched. Touchdown. Two-point conversion. Overtime. Coin toss. James White touchdown. Final score: 34-28 Pats.
Warriors waste a 73-win regular season
Golden State had set the record for most NBA regular-season victories with 73, so when they went up 3-1 in their championship series against the Cleveland Cavaliers it seemed like a forgone conclusion the Warriors would win a second consecutive title and cement their legacy as one of, if not the, greatest single-season team in NBA history.
LeBron James and Kyrie Irving both put up 41 points in a Game 5 win, James had another 41-point outing in Game 6 and “The King” topped off the comeback with a triple-double and a key block in Game 7 to bring Cleveland a championship.
Leafs prove no lead is safe
The Toronto Maple Leafs weren’t expected to beat the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but they found themselves up 4-1 midway through the third period of Game 7. Nathan Horton made it 4-2 with 10:42 remaining then Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron both scored with less than two minutes to play in regulation and Bergeron potted home the winner six minutes into overtime.
Blue Jays fall apart in 1987
Some fans blame this one on the Sports Illustrated cover jinx. Blue Jays outfielder Lloyd Moseby was featured on the cover alongside the caption “Toronto Takes Off” but prior to the issue hitting newsstands the Blue Jays squandered a 3.5-game lead in the AL East and wound up missing the playoffs entirely.
Sonnen gets within seconds of becoming UFC champion
Chael Sonnen and Anderson Silva had one of the most intense rivalries in mixed martial arts history, a rivalry that began prior to their first fight at UFC 117 in 2010. In the lead-up to their middleweight title fight, Sonnen insulted Silva repeatedly and said he would beat the Brazilian superstar despite being a massive underdog.
In the fight itself, Sonnen proceeded to dominate Silva – something that at the time was considered unthinkable – only to be submitted late in the fifth round. It’s regarded as one of the best fights, submissions and comebacks in UFC history.
Miracle on Manchester
On April 10, 1982, the Los Angeles Kings were down 5–0 to the Edmonton Oilers at the second intermission in Game 3 of a best-of-five first-round series. They stormed back and an unlikely hero named Steve Bozek scored the tying goal with five seconds left to play in regulation before rookie Daryl Evans won it for the Kings in overtime.
Mariners give up 12-0 lead to Indians
On Aug. 5, 2001 the Seattle Mariners were up 12-0 on the Cleveland Indians after three innings and ahead 14-2 after six. Instead of throwing in the towel, Cleveland stuck around. The Tribe scored three in the seventh, four in the eighth and another five in the ninth. Omar Vizquel had four hits and four RBI while driving in the tying run. Jolbert Cabrera’s broken-bat walk-off single brought Kenny Lofton home in the 11th.
The comeback tied the 1911 Detroit Tigers and the 1925 Philadelphia Athletics as the greatest in baseball history.
Buccaneers’ 21-point lead evaporates in less than four minutes
Most people had changed the channel. The defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers led the Indianapolis Colts 35-14 in a Monday Night Football showdown but what followed was one of the most improbable comebacks in football history.
The Colts scored four fourth-quarter touchdowns, including three in the final four minutes to force overtime. Mike Vanderjagt kicked a 29-yard field goal 3:47 into overtime to complete the 38-35 comeback win.