Heartbreak City: The 25 Greatest Letdowns In Philadelphia Sports History
Philadelphia fans are many things to many people. Clearly, it takes one to know one. To themselves, they are the most passionate and loyal fans in the world. To outsiders, they are just despicable. To the national media, they still threw snowballs at Santa Clause 40 years ago. One thing though that all can agree on is their passion and love of their sports teams.
Athletes who played in this city immediately acknowledge the dual nature of the Philadelphia fan. You know the old adage, that stereotype that we're recognized by: "When you're winning, there's no better place to play. When you're losing, they're going to let you hear it." This much is very true, we obviously want and deserve a winner, but always admire and appreciate effort and hustle. Take it from someone who knows this as well as anyone.
In Philadelphia, you will be remembered forever if you work your ass off and leave it all on the field. Yet, if you don't show the effort, they will turn on you in a flash.
Whether it's the top star or the newest rookie, they've all felt the wrath. The simultaneous "BOOOOO" that descends from the top seats and works its way down. At some point or another, most Philadelphia athletes have deservedly heard this. Sorry to say, for some, this is the last thing they hear during their time in Philadelphia. That patented "BOOOO" has broken athletes in this city and will continue to do so. We don't mean it though, I promise.
Throughout the history of sports in the City of Brotherly Love, fans have suffered through their share of heartbreaks. In fact, to those who know, myself included, the number is far too many.
Here are the 25 most demoralizing heartbreaks in Philadelphia sports history.
25. Philadelphia 76ers‘ 2001 Game 1 Loss to Indiana
The Philadelphia 76ers' 2001 season was one of the most memorable in Philadelphia sports history. This would also be the year that they'd overcome their greatest challenge of years past. In 2001, the 76ers would finally defeat Larry Brown's former team, the Indiana Pacers, in the playoffs.
Yet even this series came with its difficulties. The first game of that playoff run was the most hyped up basketball game in Philadelphia in quite some time. Though this one was against their new rivals, the Pacers and Reggie Miller. I remember being so excited for this game and for the Sixers to showcase to the rest of the NBA what we fans had witnessed all season long. Needless to say, we were greatly disappointed in the end once again.
With about 2.9 seconds left, Reggie Miller hit a huge shot to give the Pacers the game and the series lead. In the past, this would have ripped the 76ers to shreds. Now though, in 2001, they boasted a slew of award winners (Allen Iverson, Larry Brown, Dikembe Mutombo, Aaron McKie) and a newborn confidence. They used this loss to their advantage and made it another learning experience en route to three straight victories to knock off the Pacers.
Though this was not necessarily a terrible loss for the 76ers, it was quite shocking to say the least. All they'd ever wanted was for once to defeat these Pacers and yet here they were again playing down to them in the first game of their title run.
All I can honestly remember from this game now is the above video. Miller was able to work off of the pick on Iverson and remain wide-open for a split second. This was more than enough time for Miller to do what he does best.
24. Philadelphia 76ers' Game 2 of the 2001 NBA Finals
People tend to forget this game, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Coming off of that amazing high that was a Hollywood-like Game 1 victory in Tinsel Town, the Sixers looked to come home up 2-0. The Lakers had run the table to that point, going 11-0 and running through their opponents en route to the NBA Finals. They failed to realize what a hungry Larry Brown-led team was capable of.
In many ways, Game 2 was the be-all end-all for the 76ers in this series. If they could have taken advantage of Shaquille O'Neal's fourth quarter foul troubles, they may have won the series. That statement is not that far off, believe me. The 76ers kept Game 2 close, trailing by just two points at the half. Ultimately though, a stronger Laker team would prevail and even the series at one apiece heading to Philadelphia.
The Sixers cut the lead to three late in the game. Down the stretch though, their 6-16 foul shooting doomed them and the Lakers again showed their might.
23. Philadelphia Phillies' 2007 Game 1 Loss To Colorado
In many ways 2007 was the start of the Phillies' reign. Game 1 however would prove to be one of the greatest daggers fans of this generation faced. I for one remember this game rather vividly as I was in attendance with a few friends. This was the most anticipated baseball game in Philadelphia in 14 years at that point. Who would have ever though that even in defeat this would be the start of something so special?
"MVP" chants for Jimmy Rollins rained down from the 400 level on this sunny day and the Phillies were thought to be indestructible. This wouldn't last long though as Todd Helton's 2nd inning, bases-clearing triple put a stop to this. Cole Hamels self-destructed and the Phillies were never really a part of this series.
After their amazing comeback to steal the NL East from the New York Mets, the Phillies had a world of momentum. Their season ended in a flash as they ran into the buzz-saw that was the Colorado Rockies. All of the momentum that the Phillies had was swept away and turned against them by a hungrier Colorado bunch.
Luckily though for the Phillies, this would only prove to be the beginning of greater things. Greater things as in two consecutive World Series appearances (one title) to follow.
22. Philadelphia Eagles' 2001 Playoff Loss to The New York "Football" Giants
At this point in this intense rivalry the Giants had defeated the Eagles eight times in a row. This game didn't start out all that well for the Eagles either. Ron Dixon's opened the game with a 97-yard kickoff return for a TD. The Eagles never recovered from this and lost the game 20-10.
With the Eagles down 10-0 late in the 2nd quarter, Jason Sehorn put their season on thin ice. His amazing interception return for a TD knocked the Eagles out and ended their season in a half. The Ealges would go on to gain only a grand total of 186 yards as the Giants ripped the Philly faithful's hearts to shred on that cold Sunday evening.
This game would ultimately be the launching pad for the Giants' Super Bowl appearance that season. As for Philadelphia fans this lost is still in the back of our minds it seems. Though they redeemed themselves the following season by beating the Giants twice in two miraculous games, this loss stings and always will.
People also forget David Akers' field goal attempt late in the game that went wide-right. This 32-yarder sailed off the mark as Akers continued his struggles at the Meadowlands. On this night, there was no "Miracle at the Meadowlands" but just heartbreak again.
21. Philadelphia Eagles’ 2006 Playoff Loss to New Orleans
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
The Philadelphia Eagles' surprising rise to the playoffs in 2006 was entertaining. After going 5-6 through the first two and a half months of the season, the Eagles miraculously turned this around and won five straight to clinch the NFC East. All of this came without Donovan McNabb. It was rather Jeff Garcia who emerged out of nowhere and took the Eagles on a spectacular ride which abruptly ended in New Orleans.
The Eagles had faced New Orleans in Week 6 that season and the score was 27-24. When these two teams met again in the NFC Divisional Round, the outcome was the same but the heartbreak was much greater.
Sheldon Brown's "pop" on Reggie Bush in the game's opening series was vicious and set the tone for the type of brawl that this would be.
The Saints seemingly had the rest of the nation in their corner and the sympathy of all. They used this as momentum to take them one step closer to the Super Bowl.
This game was about as good as it gets in terms of playoff football. The Superdome was rocking as the pro-Saints crowd literally willed their team to victory.
A painful false start call on backup Right Guard Scott Young dashed the Eagles' hopes. This negated what would have been a first down for Philadelphia. Young, who replaced All-Pro lineman Shawn Andrews, hadn't made any mistakes prior to this.
Andy Reid presented the greatest heartbreak of all though late in the game. With 1:56 left in the 4th and the Eagles trailing by three, Reid decided to punt the ball away on 4th and 15. The Saints picked up a first down and ballgame over.
20. Philadelphia Eagles’ 1988 Playoff Loss to Chicago (Fog Bowl)
New Year's Eve 1988 was a horrible ending to the year for the Philadelphia Eagles on many fronts. Not only did their 20-12 loss to the Chicago Bears ultimately end the season, but no one, including the Eagle and Bear players could even see the game. CBS cameras were on-hand but they couldn't battle with the mighty fog in Chicago on that miserable day. Visibility at Soldier Field was seemingly cut down to about 10-20 yards from the 2nd quarter on.
Somehow, though no one saw it, the Eagles apparently moved the ball the entire game even in defeat. Randall Cunningham went on to throw for 407 yards, but the Eagles still couldn't see the end-zone (pun intended.)
Luis Zendejas' four field goals were remarkable but still couldn't suffice for the Eagles. The Eagles, under the "Buddy System," only knew playoff heartbreak, yet still, in this mind-boggling game, they were unable to execute. How could they quite frankly? How could either team? The 32 points scored was a lot considering that neither team could see all that well. Think about that.
Regardless, this was another bad loss for Philadelphia sports as a whole. One that many will never forget as well as this was one of the most talented Eagle teams of that era.
19. Philadelphia Flyers’ 1968 Game 7 Loss to St. Louis
The Philadelphia Flyers achieved success in their first season. Despite finishing at a sub-.500 tilt, they were able to win their division and host a playoff series with divisional rival St. Louis, also an expansion team.
Glenn Hall was solid in this series for the Blues and carried them to the Stanley Cup Finals. Dickie Moore also gave the Blues strength offensively in what would be his last season. He scored more goals in the playoffs (7 in 18 games) than he did in the regular season (5 in 27 games.) Combine this with other scorers that the expansion Blues possessed and it was enough to stun the Flyers and the hockey world along the way.
The Flyers rolled into this series as the favorites, but exited wondering what could've been. They didn't show up in Game Seven at the Spectrum. Their 3-1 loss hurt even more so because of the time period. Philadelphia was in need of a winner and the Flyers, as an expansion team, had some pretty high expectations.
18. Philadelphia Eagles’ 2008 NFC Title Game Loss to Arizona
The Eagles' miracle sprint to the 2008 playoffs was quite astonishing. They literally came out of nowhere to make the playoffs and dominated once they got there. After quickly dismissing the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants, both on the road might I add, the Eagles were again one step away from the Super Bowl.
This particular NFC Title Game seemed to be a virtual "lock" in the eyes of many. The Eagles trashed the Arizona Cardinals on Thanksgiving Night so this one was supposed to be cake. Well, think again. This was yet another frustrating loss for the Eagles.
In this game, DeSean Jackson's amazing 62-yard 4th quarter TD grab put the Eagles ahead by a point late. Jackson's catch over a fallen Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie was the beginning of the end for Arizona, or so we thought. They apparently weren't bothered by this for long though as the Cards took their next drive and guided it to a Super Bowl.
Donovan McNabb's 375 yards and 3 TD's weren't enough though as Arizona was victorious and heading to their first Super Bowl. The Eagles trailed by 18 at halftime and came all the way back to take the lead with 19 unanswered points only to see their slim lead be turned into a sea of red confetti in Arizona, Cardinal red that is. This was Jon Runyan's last game as an Eagle as he lie knocked out at the end of the game at midfield.
17. Philadelphia Flyers’ 2010 Game 6 Loss to Chicago
I'm not going to lie, I've seen this goal in my dreams/nightmares. Each and every time I review this goal though, the same thought crosses my mind: how the hell did that get in past Michael Leighton? Well, maybe not hell, possibly another four-letter word, but you get my drift.
Credit Patrick Kane with the Jordan-like head-fake on Kimmo Timonen. Kane caught Timonen crossing his skates over and slipped it past Leighton. At that point, as you can see in the video, Kane was the only one that knew that the puck went in the net.
The Philadelphia faithful will always remember this play for how the puck got behind Leighton and that his being deep in the net finally burned him. Coach Jeff Reese had intentionally moved Leighton deeper into the net and it was a blessing in disguise for him until this happened.
Fans had every reason to believe that this series was heading back to Chicago. Many went as far as to book their Game 7 ticket to Chicago. Literally. This was even more feverish as the Flyers dominated the early part of overtime and were looking for the knockout blow on Antti Niemi. This didn't happen and a stunned Philadelphia crowed filed out of the then-Wachovia Center quietly.
16. Philadelphia Phillies’ 1981 Playoff Loss to Montreal
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
After coming off of a World Series victory in 1980, the Phillies exited quietly the following season. In the strike year of 1981, the Phillies lost a grueling five-game series to the Montreal Expos in the NLDS. The decisive Game Five was a painful defeat where the Phillies did nothing but strand runners offensively.
Despite dropping the first two games of the series in Montreal, by the time the Phillies got back home they were still in the series. With each game being an elimination game, the Phillies used their home-field to their advantage. The Phillies would dominant Game Three then despite working overtime the following night, they'd force Game Five on a third consecutive day. The problem was that this wasn't as easy as 1-2-3.
The Phillies sent their ace Steve Carlton back to the mound for Game Five. Carlton was sharp through four as the game remained scoreless, then he hit a speed bump in the 5th inning. Steve Rogers, Carlton's counterpart, hit a two-run single that would prove to be the series-winning hit.
Philadelphia would put runners on base but nothing more. This one really hurt as they scattered base-runners throughout much of the game but failed to execute.
15. Philadelphia Eagles’ 2003 Opener Loss to Tampa Bay
This was supposed to be redemption for the closing of Veterans Stadium in early 2003. Yet, eight months later, the venue changed, but the result remained the same. The result, another loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The Buccaneers picked up right where they had left off in the previous season. They used suffocating defense and timely scoring to defeat the Eagles again. Who says they couldn't win games in Philadelphia?
Tampa Bay enjoyed a 17-0 victory to open their Super Bowl Title defense. Donovan McNabb was again tormented by the Bucs' defense while Joe Jurevicius proved to be the difference-maker. Jurevicius' two TD grabs were more than enough to propel the Bucs to victory in Philadelphia, spoiling the opening party.
14. Philadelphia 76ers’ 1981 Game 7 Loss to Boston
The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers have had a very heated rivalry. While this is not as true nowadays, these two teams really hated each other in the '60s, '70s and '80s. This is one of the better NBA rivalries in history, at least it was during its apex. The '80s saw much Boston dominance not only in the rivalry but in the NBA as a whole.
The 76ers held a 3-1 lead in this Eastern Conference Finals bout and saw it all slip away. The 76ers' one point loss to the Celtics in Game Seven was quite painful for Philadelphians, especially that this was their rival and that they were a bucket away from the NBA Finals.
Larry Bird's heartbreaking last-minute bank shot was the final knockout blow to the 76ers. The Celtics went on to defeat the Houston Rockets and Bird would win Finals MVP.
Five of the seven contests were decided by two points or less in this epic series.
13. Philadelphia Eagles’ 2002 NFC Title Game Loss to St. Louis
The Eagles were one big play away from taking out the mighty St. Louis Rams. The problem is that that 'BIG" play never came on that Sunday evening in the Edward Jones Dome. Whether that play came on offense, defense or special teams, it wouldn't have even mattered. The fact that it never was made though will always remain the major reason for this loss.
N.D. Kalu, (yeah, remember him) was about a quarter of a second away from blocking Jeff Baker's 4th quarter punt. Though unsuccessful, the Eagles would still be getting the ball with decent field position. With about 2:20 left in regulation and the Eagles at their own 45-yard line with one timeout, it appeared as if Donovan McNabb would steal the show. As we came to know more and more in the years to come, McNabb could not deliver the difference-making play.
The missed blocked punt hurt, but Aeneas Williams' pick six of McNabb was the final blow on the ensuing drive. Williams' interception on 4th down was the end of the Eagles' Cinderella playoff run.
Even before Williams ended the Eagles season, Marshall Faulk did his part as well. Faulk gashed Philly's defense for 159 yard and 2 TD's. This wasn't a shock as Faulk was the centerpiece of this offense despite it being a pass-first attack. Faulk was the perfect back for Mike Martz's offensive scheme as they made it work to fruition for several years.
"The Greatest Show on Turf" had gotten the best of the youthful Eagles and won. This would catapult them to their second Super Bowl appearance in three seasons. What lie ahead in Super Bowl XXXVI was utterly stunning for the Rams and marked the start of the New England Patriots' dynasty.
But as for this day, the Rams were just one play better than the Eagles.
12. Philadelphia Flyers’ 1997 Stanley Cup Finals Sweep by Detroit
This video basically says it all for the Philadelphia Flyers in their shocking 1997 Stanley Cup Finals loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Prior to the Finals, it was a sheer lock that the Flyers would win this one running away. It didn't take long for the Red Wings to make their presence felt in this series. They spoiled the Flyers' plans and would prove to be no type of welcome mat to the Finals.
As Flyers' Coach Terry Murray bluntly put it, this was certainly a "choking situation." The most important part of Detroit's game-plan in this series was their shutdown defense. They held the Flyers to just six goals in four games. The Legion of Doom was silenced in this series as the Wings' defense was just too much for this powerful line.
The Flyers were never really in this series and in the end it left a bad taste in their mouths. While the organization has since recovered, this will always be remembered as the one that got away, literally.
11. Philadelphia Eagles’ 2004 NFC Title Game Loss to Carolina
To put it bluntly: THIS ONE WAS UGLY! After back-to-back NFC Title Game defeats, it could't possibly happen again right? Not in our brand new stadium against the underdog Carolina Panthers. Well this loss took heartbreak to new heights and put the legacy of Donovan McNabb into a new perspective for Philadelphia fans. It's easy to say now that he's gone but this one was just typical McNabb fashion. He simply could not/still can not win the "big" game. Five proved this time and time again during his days in Midnight Green.
The Eagles were held to a measly three points in this game and after suffering a 1-15 season in 2001, the Panthers were heading to Super Bowl XXXVIII.
Who would've ever though that Rickey Manning Jr., yeah, remember him, would be the deciding factor in on this night? Manning's three interceptions decimated the Eagles as the Carolina defense carried them to the Super Bowl. The Cardiac Cats were able to drill all of the Eagle momentum out and instill their own game-plan.
Carolina LB Greg Favors would land the final knockout blow though with his blatant late hit on McNabb. As if the game wasn't over already, this one was it so to speak. Favors, who apparently never heard a whistle, nor was hit with a flag, crushed McNabb's ribs and the Eagles' hopes.
The high that was 4th and 26 in the previous week became an afterthought as the Panthers came into cold weather Philadelphia and seemingly made it their home. Once again, the victory cigars in Philadelphia went unlit and Eagle fans were left distraught and without any hope for their future. That is of course until they signed Terrell Owens just a few months later. And, well, yeah you know.
10. Philadelphia Flyers’ 1980 Game 6 Loss to New York Islanders
Leon Stickle. Let that name "stick" into your head for a few minutes before you read this slide. Without Stickle, this doesn't even make the list and the entire landscape of this series changes. A blown offsides call in the deciding game put the Flyers season to rest. Stickle later admitted this was a mistake but it didn't matter at that point, the season was over. Truth is, this entire series was painful for the Flyers. Although this was a banner year for the city of Philadelphia with all four teams reaching the finals in their respective sport, they all fell down except for the Phillies.
Not only did Stickle blow a key call early in the game, but the Flyers would drop the clincher in overtime. Bobby Nystrom's overtime winner was the final dagger for the Flyers who still enjoyed a remarkable 1979-'80 campaign. Their 35-game unbeaten streak is one for the ages and will never be duplicated.
As for this heartbreaking defeat, it still stings when Stickle or the New York Islanders are mentioned on South Broad St.
9. Philadelphia Flyers’ 1987 Game 7 Loss to Edmonton.
The Philadelphia Flyers have suffered many letdowns since their back-to-back titles in the mid-'70s. The Edmonton Oilers were a machine back in those days. This one had all the makings to be a fantastic Stanley Cup Finals matchup and certainly lived up to the hype. In their second Finals meeting in three years, these two teams didn't disappoint. By 1987 though, a lot had changed for the Philadelphia Flyers. Over that two-year period, the Flyers had lost sensational Swede Pelle Lindbergh who died in 1985 in a car accident.
The Flyers had been injured in the '85 Finals with injuries to Tim Kerr, Captain Dave Poulin, Brad McCrimmon and Lindbergh. Even in '87, the Flyers were still banged up, but extended the Finals to seven unforgettable games this time around. Though this time around, Wayne Gretzky and co. would again win a Stanley Cup, their third of four in that decade alone.
Ron Hextall helped keep the Flyers in the series despite falling behind 3-1. Hex "stood" Tall and was the difference in the series for the Flyers. Hextall reportedly made a comment towards Gretzky before the series, asking "Who's he?" Well, both "The Great One" and the rookie Hextall knew one another after this series. Hextall won The Conn Smythe Award albeit in a losing effort.
This Game Seven was utterly heart-crushing for the Flyers. After gaining an early two-man advantage and the lead on Murray Craven's goal, then the wheels would come off. The Oilers would then control the remainder of the game and come out victorious. With about 2:24 left in the game, Glenn Anderson's 30-foot shot beat Hextall and would prove to be more than enough for the Oilers.
8. Philadelphia Phillies’ 2010 Playoffs
Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
The 2010 Philadelphia Phillies were thought to be the deepest squad in team history. Their "H2O" rotation paired with a lethal lineup made them not only the best in the NL, but also the best in all of MLB. How did this team go from sweep to free-fall in a matter of two weeks? It is one of the most puzzling outcomes that the Phillies have ever had and will always linger deep into the minds of fans. Not to mention that the San Francisco Giants went on to win the World Series or anything like that.
Well, what went wrong here? As always, Game One is crucial and often sets the tone for a series. This was no different in this NLCS. The Phillies lost that game with Ace 1 (Roy Halladay) on the mound. We should have all known where this series was heading after that one. It didn't stop there though. The pitching was only a small part of the problem and yet overall they still were okay. The blame was more or less focused on an offense that failed to show up.
The Phillies didn't have the desire in this series. The push that they'd had in previous playoff runs had disappeared. Actually, better yet, it shifted to their opponents, the San Francisco Giants instead. The Giants were the team playing like this was all new to them and that they wanted it more.
Ultimately though, Game Four was the heart-breaker in the 2010 NLCS. In that game, Joe Blanton was good enough to win, but the Phillies weren't in the clutch. They missed opportunities late in the game that would've evened up the series at two apiece heading back to Philadelphia. Had the Phillies won that crucial Game Four, there's no telling how this series would have ended.
7. Philadelphia Flyers’ 2004 Game 7 loss to Tampa Bay.
Jeff Gross/Getty Images
The Flyers were thisclose to making the Stanley Cup Finals in 2004 as you can tell from the above picture. Another Tampa Bay team was the source of Philadelphia's ongoing heartbreak. This time, the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that was playing in a rinky dink arena not that long before, was heading to the Stanley Cup.
Backed by Nikolai Khabibulin, the Lightning would outlast the Flyers in seven grueling games. This was truly a back-and-forth series with the teams alternating wins along the way. The only win that mattered in the end though was Tampa's in Game Seven.
Even with the decisive game being in Tampa Bay, the Flyers felt as if they'd had all the momentum necessary to win. They'd just pulled off an incredible comeback win in two nights before and were looking to carry that momentum to the Finals.
Keith Primeau was more than spectacular for the Flyers. He was superhuman in this series. With big names, John LeClair, Jeremy Roenick and Tony Amonte dormant in this series, the captain stepped up with eight points.
This prompted Hockey legend Phil Esposito to later tell Primeau that "During the 04 playoffs when you and the Flyers took the Lightning to seven games, you were the most dominating player I ever saw. More than Orr, Howe, Gretzky, or anyone." Esposito's statement wasn't all that far off.
As for the team though, this was one of their toughest losses to overcome. Though they had about 17 months to think about this one as the NHL would lockout in 2004-2005.
6. Philadelphia Flyers’ 2000 Game 7 loss to New Jersey
This series had it all. Well, everything that you'd expect out of a heated playoff bout between two Atlantic Division rivals. The Flyers' rookie Brian Boucher was an instant hero in Philadelphia and the Flyers were one game away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. They had been one game away for nearly a week and now was the time to put it away once and for all.
The Flyers were at one point up 3-1 in the series. This disappeared almost in a flash as the hated New Jersey Devils hastily evened the series up heading back to a decisive game in Philadelphia. The Flyers had Eric Lindros in that pivotal Game Seven, this was supposed to be a key difference for them. Lindros' return from injury would do the job and put the Devils away for good.
Well, unfortunately, this Game Seven didn't go according to plan. Lindros would get clobbered by hitman Scott Stevens at center ice, this would set the tone for the rest of the night. Matters were already icy between "The Big E" and then-Flyers' GM Bobby Clarke. This incident was the icing on the cake for their relationship as Stevens knocked Lindros and the Flyers out of the playoffs with his devastating blow.
The game was even with about two-and-a-half minutes left then all hell broke loose. Patrik Elias outworked offensive defenseman Dan McGillis to the front of the net for the clinching tally. For Elias, a Devil great, this was the most important goal of his career.
This loss still eats at me every time I think of the Devils. I think I speak for all Flyer fans on this one. This was the toughest Philadelphia defeat of my early childhood. This was truly an earth-shattering loss that came with its casualties, most notably, Eric Lindros, my childhood hero.
5. Philadelphia Phillies’ 1977 Black Friday Loss to Los Angeles Dodgers
"Black Friday" is a game that so many stories can be told about. This game's momentum swung constantly, but in the end, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Davey Lopes would prevail. The Phillies appeared to have figured out the Dodgers and were on their way to a series lead until Lopes and Bruce Froemming worked their magic.
Rabid Philadelphians tormented Dodgers' starter Burt Hooton, taking him out of the game early. Tommy Lasorda had no other choice but to refer to his bullpen in the second inning. The Dodgers, while only trailing by one, looked all but out of it at this point.
There's one story in and of itself right there.
Fast-forward a few innings and the Phillies are still in the driver's seat by a 5-4 score. Davey Lopes' sharply hit grounder went off of Mike Schmidt's wonky knee and into the arm of Larry Bowa. From there, Bowa rifled the ball over to first and definitively beat Lopes on the throw. Well, just about everyone in the baseball world thought that he was out except for the only one whose opinion mattered, First Base Umpire Bruce Froemming. The prospects of instant replay were foreign to these guys and it shows now.
Gene Garber then tried a pick-off of Lopes who stole second and eventually scored on a Bill Russell (no, not that Bill Russell) single to center.
4. Philadelphia Eagles’ 2005 Super Bowl Loss to New England
A. Messerschmidt/Getty Images
Super Bowl XXXIX was the Eagles' Golden Opportunity. They finally showed that they belonged there in 2004 as they were clearly the best team in the NFC. They dominated the NFC and even without the great Terrell Owens, they advanced to the Super Bowl. Despite much controversy during the anticipation of Super Bowl XXXIX, it was clear that nothing, not even screws in his ankle, could keep Owens from playing on America's grandest Sunday.
Once there, the Eagles would not disappoint, at least not in the beginning. L.J. Smith's early tight-end drag route over the middle of the field was good enough for the game's first score. Donovan McNabb threw a pass that hit Smith right on the hands and put New England in a hole for the first time in the playoffs.
Even before this, the Eagles blew their chances. This is something that can't happen against a Patriots team as the opportunities are far and few between. The Eagles would learn this as the game went on as they could count back to several miscues that kept them from winning the game.
Philadelphia was in this game until the end, but Terrific Tom and New England were just a little bit too much. The Eagles are still kicking themselves in the foot for this loss. February 6, 2005 was their day as they entered the 4th quarter locked in a bitter 14-14 tie.
The Patriots' drive early on in the 4th was very championship-like and proved to be the difference. Tedy Bruschi's INT on the Eagles' next drive was the end of the road. Though the Eagles wouldn't leave quietly, the damage was done and their chance was blown.
T.O. would start his crying not long thereafter and there goes the "potential" dynasty.
3. Philadelphia Phillies’ 1993 World Series Game 6 Loss To Tornoto
"Touch 'em all Joe, you'll never hit a bigger home run in your life." Yeah, that pretty much sums it up for the 1993 World Series. Though that line doesn't do the Phillies' season any such justice. Their miraculous run, though ended by Joe Carter on that dreaded night in Toronto, was one amazing, unexpected year.
The '93 Phillies were just what fans want in a Philadelphia team. They were a hard-working, blue-collar, gutsy squad that was so lovable and always will be fan favorites. This certainly was a team for the ages. Though they didn't win a World Series, "this wacky, wonderful bunch of throwbacks" as the late, great Harry Kalas referred to them, was something beyond special.
Well, if nothing else, CBS was sent off with a bang right? This was the last MLB game that the network hosted for quite some time. Carter's shot off of erratic closer Mitch "Wild Thing" Williams has appeared on many highlight reels since and to everyone outside of Philadelphia is memorable.
Before this, the Phillies trailed 3-0 in the first inning as Terry Mulholland was lit up early on. The Blue Jays would hold onto this lead until the 7th inning when the wheels came off and Philadelphia put up a "5" spot on the board. Lenny Dykstra, who else, would be the catalyst in this inning once again.
Tim McCarver even went as far as to note how uncomfortable Joe Carter looked in the Series. McCarver made the comment right before the final pitch of the game, the one that Carter would send over the left-field fence.
That devastating feeling was familiar to Philadelphians, this one hurt more than any before though. This one still hurts and probably will forever no matter how successful the current dynasty is.
2. The 1964 Phillies' Collapse
This one was just really, really bad. Not just a single game either, an entire sequence of about two weeks of pitiful baseball defined this collapse. Though many believe that the Mets' 2007 collapse makes up for this, 1964 remains incomprehensibly disgusting.
The Phillies were 6.5 games ahead of the Cincinnati Reds with just 12 games left to play. This one's "in the bag" right? Think again! The Phillies would follow-up with a horrid 10-game losing streak where they relinquished the division and cemented themselves into history. The Wall of Shame though, that's why their famous or infamous.
"The Phold" was about as bad as it gets. For a team that boasted great talent across the board, this was utterly unacceptable.
Who was to blame? Was it really Manager Gene Mauch? Mauch's decisions with the pitching rotation are questioned to this day and the case can be made for his being at fault. Don't forget that the Phillies themselves gave up towards the end.
1. Philadelphia Eagles 2003 NFC Title Game Loss to Tamp Bay.
The Philadelphia Eagles were on their way to their first Super Bowl appearance in 22 years. You could almost set your watch by it. At about 6:45 p.m. on Sunday, January 19, 2003, the Eagles would exercise their demons and reach their ultimate goal. Then Jon Gruden and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were there standing right in the middle of them and San Diego, California.
Between the cold weather and facing a hungry team, the Bucs had their work cut out for them. The Bucs weren't supposed to win in freezing cold temperatures. They'd never scored a playoff TD in the Vet before this. The Eagles had their number so to speak and were about to use them as a launching pad to Super Bowl XXXVII.
The Eagles got off on the right foot with Brian Mitchell's 70-yard opening kickoff return. To follow, Duce Staley capped the quick drive with a score as the Eagles were prepared to knock the Bucs out completely.
The wheels would soon come off as Joe Jurevicius' 3rd down conversion did the Eagles in. The Bucs took a lot of, if not all of the energy out of the crowd with a 97-yard drive and took a 10-7 lead.
The Eagles were out of this game by the second half. In the end, Ronde Barber's pick six will forever sting Philadelphia sports.
No matter what success we've enjoyed as Philadelphians, this loss will never escape us. The Eagles had a great opportunity and again couldn't convert.