Five Most Memorable Comebacks in Sports

Imagine: You’re sitting at home watching your favorite sporting event and it looks as if the outcome is inevitable – but, wait! What just happened? Is it a turning point in the game? Is it possible for that team (or athlete) to come back? You’re getting ready to witness yet another great comeback moment in sports. There are several that happen every year. They’re not so much commonplace, but they happen often enough that most of them are exciting when they happen and we talk about them for a week or so and then we move onto the next comeback or great game. However, there are some exceptions to that rule. Here are my five favorites.

5. Buffalo Bills’ comeback over the Houston Oilers

It’s January 3, 1993 and the Houston Oilers are beating up on the Buffalo Bills 35 to 3 with two minutes left in the third quarter. There seems to be no hope for the Bills with two of their key players, Jim Kelly (quarterback) and Thurman Thomas (running back) on the bench. The first amazing feat is the first drive that consists of 50 yards in 10 plays, which then results in a 1-yard touchdown for the Bills. After that, the Bills decide to go for an onside kick. What do they have to loose? They are successful on the onside kick, allowing them to score again with backup quaterback Frank Reich’s 38-yarder to Don Bebe for another touchdown.

At the end of the fourth quarter Buffalo leads with the score now 38 to 35, but the Oilers don’t give up hope. They hang in there on a 63-yard drive downfield to set up the tying field goal at the end of the fourth quarter. What this? Houston wins the coin toss! All seems to be going well as Warren Moon throws the ball intending it for wide receiver Ernest Givens. Uh-oh. Here comes Nate Odomes, defensive back for the Buffalo Bills and it’s – an interception! The Bills end up winning the game in overtime 41 to 38.

4. Gary Player’s victory in the 1978 Masters

It didn’t look hopeful that Gary Player would take home his third win at the Masters in 1978 as he was in tenth place and seven strokes down from the leader, Tom Watson. On the final day of the Masters, Gary Player brought his “A” game and achieved seven birdies of the last ten holes on the course. He came back victorious by one point to win the Masters. Way to go, Gary!

3. The “Heidi Bowl”

On November 17, 1968 when the Oakland Raiders hosted the New York Jets, the game ended in a comeback event. However, not to take anything away from the contributors of the comeback victory, but what makes this game so memorable is not the game itself, but for what it stands. In this time period, when a football game wasn’t over and other programming was suppose to start, they ran the regularly scheduled program at that time and cut the game off, which resulted in no one knowing what happened. This wasn’t an issue and was just known as “how things were done” until this fateful day. The New York Jets were leading 32 to 29 with 65 seconds left when NBC cut the game to go to the regularly scheduled movie showing of “Heidi”.

The ultimate outcome was that the Oakland Raiders won 43 to 32, but no viewers outside of the Pacific Time Zone got to see the rest of the game. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this incident. The end result is that networks then decided that the game would be shown in its entirety and the regularly scheduled program would be shown in its entirety after the completion of the game. None the less, this game will go down in infamy as “The Heidi Bowl”.

2. Lasse Viren

Finnish Olympic runner Lasse Viren had a stroke of bad luck at the 1972 Olympics when he and another runner, Frank Shorter accidentally tripped over one another on the twelfth lap of the 10,000 meter final. Amazingly, Viren regained his footing and the lead and came back to win the gold in this event. Lasse Viren is an amazing athlete, and it was a feat of true pride and dedication to witness.

1. Boston Red Sox over the New York Yankees in the ALCS

Do you believe in curses? Well, most believed in the “Curse of the Bambino” until the curse was finally broken in 2004. Of course the Red Sox did in a comeback style victory proving to the world that even the most powerful curses don’t last forever. So, here the Red Sox are in one of the most important game series in baseball, probably thinking that they leave losers once again. They’re down three games and if they lose game 4 in the American League Championship, they’ve lost not only the game, but their chance to play in the World Series. Game 4 was finally won by the Red Sox, but it had to go into extra innings and with a walk-off home run in the twelfth inning, Game 4 was closed giving Boston their first win in this series. If that wasn’t amazing enough, it took Boston 14 innings in Game 5 to beat the Yankees! Then came controversial Game 6 with Mike Bellhorn’s home run. The final game was a brutal beating of the Yankees as the Red Sox leave them in the dust and becoming the ALCS victors after suffering from a 3-0 loss in the first three games. The Sox went on to beat St. Louis in the World Series that year, but the game to remember was this one with Boston’s remarkable comeback.
Finally, to wrap it up, I’d like to leave you with a great video to commemorate my #1 comeback pick. If you’re a Red Sox fan, you’ll love it. If you’re a Yankee’s fan you’ll hate, and if you’re anyone else, you’ll get a real charge out of it. Everyone with the exception of the Yankee fans will see the humor in it.
Boston Red Sox- “Greatest Day”- Yankees Choke

Photo Credit

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  1. Arthur Warren says:

    What happened to Jennifer Capriati? I thought her comeback was memorable too.