The Greatest Comebacks in Sports History

Super Bowl LI is already being hailed by some as the greatest Super Bowl, ever. And it may be, a fourth quarter comeback, the first ever overtime during the SB, a legendary quarterback who brought his team back to life. These are the games and stories we live for, why we love the game, and why we tell about these games for years to come. Which is why we hold the following games dear to our heart:

The Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees, 2004

I remember it like it was yesterday, as a crushed Yankees fan I couldn’t watch but I couldn’t look away. The Boston Red Sox mounted one of the best, if not the best, comeback in history. At least in MLB history. The Sox were down 3 games to none and the Yanks were leading 4-3 in Game 4, with the legendary Mariano Rivera on the mound. Then the Sox sent it into extra innings, and eventually won 6-4 in the 12th. The Sox did the unthinkable, the only comeback from 3-0 in the league’s history and broke the curse, winning their first World Series in 86 years.

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors, 2016

The Cleveland Cavaliers looked as if they were out of luck yet again, down 3 games to 1 against the reigning Champions and 73-win Golden State Warriors. Not only did the Cavs pull through with an incredible comeback that brought Cleveland its first championship in 52 years, it was also the first time in history that an NBA team came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the series. The Cavs won Game 7 93-89 spoiling what could have been a home court celebration for the Warriors.

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Indiana Pacers vs NY Knicks, 1995

Reggie Miller loves the Garden, and the Garden loves him back. But the fans, not so much, and this game resonates in Knicks history. The Indiana Pacers were down 6 points with just 18.7 seconds left in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. And then the Reggie Miller show began, the Pacers legend scored 8 points in just 9 seconds for the win. The Pacers moved on to the next round but lost to Orlando.

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Philadelphia Flyers vs. Boston Bruins, 2010

Philadelphia was down 3-0 in the series against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Flyers then won Game 4 in overtime. But what makes this comeback great isn’t just the fact that the Flyers came back from a 3-0 game deficit…they also came back from losing 3-0 in Game 7, and eventually won 4-3. The Flyers were only the third team to complete a comeback from 3 games to nothing in NHL history.

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New England Patriots vs Atlanta Falcon

Tom Brady and the Pats looked as if they were defeated, down by 19 points going into the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LI. Then the game really began for the Patriots. Danny Amendola scored on a 6-yard pass from Tom Brady, a two-point conversion made it a 28-20 game. The, with 00:57 left in the game, James White scored on a 1-yard pass from Brady, another two-point conversion tied the score and sent the game to overtime. In OT, the Pats won on an 8-play, 75 yard drive in 03:58, winning their fifth Super Bowl.

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Indianapolis Colts vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 2003

Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts were trailing 35-14 with five minutes left in the game. Impossible to come back from, right? Not for Peyton and the Colts, who were able to do the unthinkable, and with 35 seconds left in the game they tied the score at 35. They eventually won the game with a 29-yard field goal in overtime.

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Chicago Cubs vs Cleveland Indians, 2016

The Chicago Cubs were ready to break the dreaded curse that has plagued them for 108 years. The only problem: they were down 3 games to 1 against the Indians. They won Game 5 by a 3-2 score and Game 6 9-3. They eventually won 8-7 in 10 innings in Cleveland, breaking the Curse and giving Cleveland a taste of what they did to the Warriors.

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Buffalo Bills vs. Houston Oilers, 1993

At one point, this was known as the greatest comeback in NFL history, so much so that it earned itself the nickname “The Comeback.” The Buffalo Bills were down 35-3 in a first round playoff game – at home. Their quarterback, Jim Kelly, was out and so was the defensive player of he year, Cornelius Bennett. QB Frank Reich threw four touchdowns in the second half to take eventually win 41-38.

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US Men’s National Team, 2010 World Cup

Landon Donovan – Soccer, or football, depending on where you’re from, is still a growing sport in the US. Some would argue the past two World Cups, which includes this great comeback by the Men’s National Team, are helping the sport gain popularity. The Men’s team needed a win to advance out of the group stage of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, and Landon Donovan gave them exactly what they needed, scoring in the final minute of added time, and becoming an instant hero.

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Boston Celtics vs LA Lakers, 2008

We’ve become accustomed to seeing these two teams in the NBA Finals, and they always put on a show. But this Celtic comeback is one that will always be remembered. The Lakers took a quick 35-14 lead in Game 4 of the series, and led by as many as 24 points throughout the game. That is until the Celtics woke up. Boston went on a 21-3 run to end the third quarter, eventually winning the game and taking a 3-1 series lead.

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Cleveland Indians vs Seattle Mariners, 2001

The Cleveland Indians were down by 12 runs against the Mariners by the third inning. There was time to climb back, but if you’re a baseball fan, you know 12 runs are difficult to come by. The Indians were able to slowly pull themselves back into the game, and eventually scored 5 runs in the bottom of the ninth inning, shocking everyone and giving the fans some free baseball. They won the game 15-14 in 11 innings.

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Duke Blue Devils vs Maryland Terrapins, 2001

The Blue Devils were behind by as many as 22 points in the first half of the Final Four match against Maryland. The team, led by Shane Battier and Jason Williams, was able to wipe out the deficit and roar back to a 95-84 win, and setting up a championship game against Arizona.

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Germany vs Hungary, 1954

The then West German National Team, found itself two goals down in a World Cup Final against a Hungarian team that was unbeaten in four years. The West Germans were able to even the score by the time the two teams headed into the locker room, and eventually took the lead in the 84th minute, with a goal by Helmut Rahn. The win marked Germany’s first World Cup title, and is since know as the Miracle of Bern.

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Team Oracle USA, 2013

I’ll admit, I didn’t watch this comeback for the ages, because, how many people watch sailing? Maybe this is a testament that more people should…. Team Oracle USA overcame an 8-1 deficit against New Zealand. They won seven straight races to tie with New Zealand, and then the cherry on top, they completed eight consecutive victories in the first-to-nine series, taking home the title.

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Liverpool vs Milan, 2005

AC Milan scored early in the game, and was leading 3 nil by the time the two teams headed into the locker room. But the second half was a ‘whole different ball game. Liverpool came roaring back in the second half and the game would eventually head to penalty shoot-outs. Liverpool beat Milan 3-2 in shoot-outs, completing the epic comeback.

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TCU vs. Oregon, 2016

Remember the Alamo has several meanings in Texas, at least for TCU fans. No. 11 TCU was trailing No. 15 Oregon 31-0 at halftime of the Alamo Bowl, and they were playing without their star quarterback who was suspended after a bar fight. TCU scored 31 points in the second half while keeping Oregon scoreless to tie the game. It would take 3 overtimes to declare a winner: TCU won the game 47-41.

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Philadelphia Eagles vs NY Giants, 2010

Miracle at the Meadowlands… there’s been several of them, and they’re in Philadelphia’s favor. This one is number three. The Eagles were down by 21 points with 8 minutes left in the game. Philadelphia’s epic comeback is most often associated with DeSean Jackson’s punt return. He fumbled the punt, then picked it right back up and ran 65 yards for the league’s first ever walkout punt return TD.

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Lasse Viren,1972 Munich Olympics

The 1972 Munich Olympics were overshadowed by tragedy, but they also had their incredible moments of triumph, such as Lasse Viren. The Finnish long distance runner was involved in a collision half way into the 10,000m race. Both he and Mohamed Gammoudi of Tunisia fell to the track, Gammoudi withdrew from the race injured. But Viren pushed on, and overtook the Britain’s David Bedford on his way to a gold medal.

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Manchester United, Premier League 1996

Manchester United was 12 points back from Newcastle at the top of the Premier League in January….Then United went on to win 13 of 15 games to end season, claiming the top spot and Premiership title. The title was made even sweeter considering that season Alan Hansen said Man U will never win playing with kids.

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Nick Faldo, US Masters 1996

Faldo’s comeback in 1996 is regarded as one of golf’s greatest comebacks. He was six shots behind the leader, Greg Norman. Faldo shot a final-round of 67, Norman shot a round of 78…. Faldo won the Masters by five shots, stealing the green jacket from Norman.

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Texas A&M vs. Northern Iowa, 2016

Anything and everything can and has probably happened during the NCAA tournament, including this incredible comeback by Texas A&M less than a year ago. The Aggies were trailing by 12 points with just 44 seconds to go in the game, Northern Iowa had the Sweet 16 at it’s fingertips. Then Texas A&M turned on the pressure ad forced critical turnovers, until a layup with 1.9 seconds left sent the game into overtime. But one overtime just wasn’t enough, the Aggies won 92-88 in double OT.

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Kentucky vs. LSU, 1994

Kentucky is known as one of the top programs in NCAA basketball, but even they must have been shocked by their epic comeback against LSU. The Wildcats were down 31 points with 15:30 seconds left in the second game, after an 18-0 run by the Tigers. Kentucky then went on a 24-28 run of their own, and eventually won 99-95 in Baton Rouge.

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Charlton Athletic vs Huddersfield Town, 1957

It’s a small town game in the UK, not even in the first division. But it’s a great story. Within 15 minutes of play, Charlton was playing with ten men due to injury, and they quickly found themselves trailing 5-1 with 28 minutes left in the match. And then miracles happened, a player by the name of Johnny Summers scored five goals to even the game at 6-6 before John Ryan scored the match winning goal.

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Florida Marlins vs Chicago Cubs, 2003

This amazing comeback involves the then-cursed Chicago Cubs, but unfortunately for the Windy City, they were on the wrong side of history this time around. Chicago held a 3-1 series lead, then dropped Game 5, lost Game 6 after leading in the 8th inning, and the Marlins bounced back from 5-3 to win Game 7 and become the NL Champions.

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Michigan State vs Northwestern University, 2006

One of the biggest games in Big 10 history. Michigan State trailed Northwestern 38-3 five minutes into the third quarter. The Spartans rallied from way behind to show the Wildcats, eventually winning the game 41-38 in what was then the greatest comeback in NCAA, Division I-A history.

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LA Kings vs San Jose Sharks, 2014

The Sharks won Games 1 and 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs opening round easily….it took until Game 3 for the Kings to push them to overtime before dropping the third game straight and falling to a 3-0 deficit. But then everything flipped, and LA won Games 4 and 5, and won Game 6 4-1, forcing Game 7. The Kings cruised to a 5-1 win in Game 7, advancing to the second round.

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Steffi Graf vs Jana Novotna, Wimbledon 1993

Jana Novotna looked as if she was going to win… Novotna was leading 4-1 int eh third set, within a single point of a 5-1 lead. Then her hopes came crashing down, and it’s been described as the “worst choke ever.” Graf then won five games straight to win the title. The image most commonly associated with the match is of Novotna crying on the Duchess of Kent’s shoulder.

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Manchester City vs Queen’s Park Rangers, 2012

Manchester City was so close to losing, that their fans were already leaving the stadium. Those who left, missed the chance to watch a great comeback during injury time. QPR was leading 2-1 when the match dwindled to injury time, and at that point, City changed the game. Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero each scored goals to secure the win the game and the championship.

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