When looking for the greatest comebacks in sports history there is much to consider but one thing is certain – coming back from a position of no return will always set pulses racing.
Greatest Comebacks in Sports History
A blowout has its advantages. When the outcome of a game is decided long before the final whistle, fans of both teams grow much fewer gray hairs. And those who enjoy betting on sports are more relaxed when their chosen team is winning with a comfortable margin. It’s no secret that sports and gambling are very closely related. And this applies not only to sports betting. More and more new usa online casinos offer slot machines with sports themes.
But the most spectacular is the sports comebacks. When they happen, even neutral fans’ hair stands on end. No one thought it was possible, but the players pulled it off. It’s always impressive, isn’t it?
So, what are the most fantastic sports comebacks you can imagine? When players are cornered, the hope seems lost, and yet someone finds enough willpower to reverse the game flow and win. These cases are worth reminiscing about again.
18. How Soccer Helped Germany to Overcome Post-WWII Difficulties – 1954
There have been a lot of impressive comebacks in soccer lately. Remember Lucas Moura’s hat-trick against Ajax in the 2018/2019 Champions League semifinals. Or, if you dig just a little deeper, the Istanbul Champions League finals back in 2005. Soccer clubs now often come back from being down.
But amid the 20th century, soccer was more pragmatic, and outstanding sports comebacks were very rare. One such happened in the World Cup finals. This championship was held in Switzerland. That match in the summer of 1954 featured Germany, which had made its first return to the tournament since World War II, and Hungary.
That Hungarian team was fantastic. An entire generation of star players dominated the soccer world, so it was no wonder that the Hungarians were viewed as the favorites of the finals. Especially since Hungary had already faced Germany on the group stage and won comfortably.
The game started exactly as everyone had expected. During the first 8 minutes of the match, Hungary netted 2 goals and had relaxed a little. That was their critical mistake.
Just 2 minutes later, the Germans netted a goal thanks to the efforts of Max Morlock, and 6 minutes later, Helmut Rahn evened the match. Only then could Hungary regain control of the ball. But their many attempts to send the ball into Toni Turek’s net resulted in nothing. And at the 84th minute, the same Helmut Rahn became the one who created the last goal with an accurate shot and finished the comeback.
That’s how amazing sports comebacks happen. This 3-2 victory was the first World Cup title in German history. It was immediately nicknamed the Bern Miracle. Soccer helped to cleanse Germany’s image after the war, and soon after that memorable match, the country’s economy boomed.
17. The Comeback – 1992
If you’re a longtime NFL fan, you’ve probably got the headline right. It’s referring to the 1992 American Football Conference playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and the Houston Oilers. Some sports journalists had nicknamed it The Comeback. And rightfully so. It was one impressive sports comeback, and the overturned lead was truly massive.
The Bills won the Bowl back in 1990 and 1991. The franchise was considered a major contender to win in 1992, but Jim Kelly’s injury messed it all up. In their showdown with the Oilers, the Buffalo Bills were no longer the clear favorites.
The players from Houston opened the game aggressively, and it turned out to be a disaster for their opponents. So, the 3rd quarter. The score is 35-3 in favor of the Oilers. Also, the Bills’ running back, Thurman Thomas, just left the field because of injury.
But then the Buffalo Bills regrouped and scored 2 consecutive touchdowns for themselves. The score became 35-17. With 7 more minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the gap no longer seemed so insurmountable.
The Bills stopped the Oilers’ next drive and scored another touchdown thanks to Frank Reich. And then there was another one. It happened after a pass from the same Reich. As a result, Buffalo scored an incredible 28 points in the third quarter and went into the break trailing by only 4 points.
In the last quarter, the Bills scored a touchdown after some very lackluster play by both teams. Frank Reich was the passer yet again. The score became 38-35 in their favor. Only then did the Oilers break their dry streak as Al Del Greco scored a three-pointer and pushed the game into overtime.
Although the Houston Oilers won the coin flip, it was the Buffalo that emerged victorious from overtime. The game was decided by a field goal.
16. Plano East Panthers’ Epic Comeback That Didn’t Happen – 1994
The one and the only reason this incredible sports comeback ranks so low in our list is the overall defeat suffered by its heroes. Unfortunately, the Panthers’ comeback didn’t result in a victory. But it was just so impressive that it stepped outside of the high school level and became known nationwide. According to many, it was the greatest game in school football history.
It happened back in the 1994 Texas Championship match. The match between the Panthers and Tyler High was fairly even. With just about 4 minutes left on the clock, the Panthers were on the ball and ready to score. At that point, they were down 17-27.
But they couldn’t finish the attack. Instead, Tyler High achieved a defensive touchdown and on their next possession, they scored once again. The Panthers’ deficit grew to 17-41. The fans thought it was done.
So, 3:03 on the clock, while the Panthers run down the offense and make a touchdown. Then they have an onside kick and score again. This makes the result 31-41. And wouldn’t you like another onside kick and another touchdown? Yeah, it’s 37-41 now with 50 seconds left on the clock.
Do you think that’s all? Well, it wasn’t! Plano East pulled off their 3rd onside kick in a row, which is crazy in itself. With just 24 seconds left, the Panthers performed another touchdown to take a 44-41 lead.
If this game was held in the NFL, it would have been the story’s end. But alas. The Panthers failed to kick the ball properly and watched helplessly as Tyler High scored a touchdown on the return, followed by a field goal. The result of the game was 44-48.
The Panthers, though an incredible sports comeback, suffered a loss. Pure madness!
15. Reggie Miller’s Incredibly Fast 8 Points – 1995
Another Indianapolis hero, but this time a basketball player. Famous Reggie Miller, who spent all 18 years of his career with the Pacers, presented many unforgettable emotions to fans. But the most memorable event happened back in 1995.
The Pacers confronted Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Knicks and were down 6 points with 18.7 seconds left in the last quarter. And it’s when Miller took the floor. One of the greatest shooters in NBA history hit 2 three-pointers and 2 free throws in just 9 seconds! After his 1st successful three-pointer, Miller also was the one to intercept the ball, so he got the credit for that as well.
In part, we have John Starks to thank. The Knicks guard was the one who blatantly fouled Miller, allowing him to go for the free throws and sum up the comeback. But the fact remains. Reggie Miller scored 8 points within 9 seconds at the very end of the last quarter and single-handedly won a playoff semifinal game for his team.
14. Paul Lawrie and His 10 Strokes Deficit – 1999
Golf, despite being a relaxed game, has its crazy moments as well. The most impressive comeback in PGA Tour history occurred at the 1999 British Open.
It’s worth clarifying here. It’s equally Paul Lawrie’s epic comeback and Jean Van de Velde’s epic downfall. If you look at the PGA Tour’s ranking of the biggest collapses, Van de Velde is at the top of the list.
But that doesn’t diminish Paul Lawrie’s merit. The golfer started the last competitive day, trailing by 10 strokes. It looked like a sure loss, and it should have ended in a loss. But Lawrie had a different opinion.
The athlete played a day of truly impressive golf. Not only did he bounce back from a huge deficit to Van de Velde in the lead, but he also caught up with second-place Justin Leonard. And in the playoffs, Lawrie, buoyed by his comeback, defeated them both and won the 1999 Claret Jug.
13. Cleveland Indians Putting Baseball on Another Level – 2001
Baseball is the game where comebacks don’t look all that insane. They are more or less routine. But this didn’t stop the Cleveland Indians to impress the entire USA nation during their 2001 game against the Seattle Mariners.
After 3 innings, the Indians were down 0-12. It seemed like the game was in their opponents’ pocket. So both teams would settle down, and after 6 innings, the lead remained unchanged as 2-14.
But over the 7th inning, the Tribe scored 3 runs. In the 8th inning, they scored 4 more. The trend continued in the 9th inning with 5 more runs. At that point, Cleveland only had 2 outs left! And then Jolbert Cabrera delivered the winning run, setting the final score of the game at 15-14 in favor of the Tribe.
12. Peyton Manning vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 2003
This episode has become an NFL classic. In this 2003 game, the legendary Peyton Manning played for the Indianapolis Colts against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With 4 minutes left in the game, his teammates found themselves on the losing side of a 35-14 scoreline.
Shortly after, the Colts did a touchdown. This changed the count to 35-21, but there were only 3 minutes and 40 seconds left on the clock. The chances of a complete comeback were slim. Yet they remained.
Encouraged by this event, Indy immediately regained the ball possession and ran the ball for 58 yards in just over a minute. The incredible attack resulted in another touchdown.
The Colts couldn’t intercept the next onside kick, but forced a punt from Tampa instead. After that, Indy’s next attack ended with their 3rd consecutive touchdown to tie the game. They weren’t a single point down anymore.
Tampa still had some time left to attack and regain the lead. But the Buccaneers weren’t able to hit a field goal in time. The game went into overtime.
In the extra time, the Colts once again forced a punt from the Buccaneers. After that, Peyton Manning, who was shining at the end of the regular time, made another brilliant run and landed a touchdown. As a punchline, Mike Vanderjagt scored a field goal.
According to NFL website statistics, a comeback from a 21-point lead is pretty common. But Indy turned the game around in just 4 minutes, and this makes the case truly special.
11. Tracy McGrady and His Reggie Miller Impression – 2004
Reggie Miller’s 8 points in 9 seconds are more famous than this one. That makes sense. Miller pulled his stunt in the playoffs series, and it happened 9 years earlier. But what Tracy McGrady did to the San Antonio Spurs in 2004 was at least as good.
McGrady was playing his 1st season for the Rockets. With 35 seconds left in the game between his team and the Spurs, they were down 68-76. Let’s be honest here. This kind of deficit is highly unlikely to be resolved.
We’re lucky that T-Mac is an exceptional player. First, he nailed a spectacular three-pointer to cut the opponents’ lead from 8 to 5 points. But a couple of seconds later, the Spurs were awarded 2 free throws and converted it one by one, again putting the Rockets in a near stalemate situation.
Let’s move to the next Houston possession. This is when McGrady made another three-pointer attempt and hit it again. He also was fouled down. So the athlete made the successful free throw. And on the next possession, the Spurs were allowed 2 free throws once again. Tim Duncan was accurate both times. The score was now 80-75, with only 16.2 seconds left on the clock.
What happened next was something Rockets fans still remember with a twinge of emotion. McGrady received a hard pass. He then spectacularly broke through defense to hit his 3rd three-pointer. There were 11.2 seconds left on the clock.
The Spurs should have safely possessed the ball until the buzzer, but lost it instead. As a result, McGrady got himself into a decent shooting position and converted one more three-pointer in the last seconds. It went down the basket just before the buzzer. The match ended with an 81-80 Rockets’ lead.
Attempting to determine the most insane individual performance in NBA history is a fruitless endeavor. There have been too many outstanding players and performances. But regardless of one’s personal preferences, this McGrady’s moment is just somewhere at the top of the enormous list of sports comebacks.
10. Red Sox’ Heroic Comeback From The 0-3 Deficit Against Yankees – 2004
Remember the curse of the Chicago Cubs? The Red Sox had their curse, too. It all started back in 1919 when the Sox sold their iconic player Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees (a bitter rival, by the way). Since then, the men from Boston could not win a World Series.
And finally, the curse fell through a heroic comeback. Remarkably, it happened in a game against the Yankees. This was the deciding matchup for the 2004 ALCS. The winner of that meeting would advance for the World Series.
The Yankees started with an extremely confident lead, winning 3 games in a row. And in the 4th game, they were the ones to earn opening points. But the Red Sox turned the game around and won 6-4 after 12 innings. It was the beginning.
Winning game 5 was even more difficult for Boston. It took them a full 14 innings to win. And the 6th game, held at Yankees’ stadium, saw the Red Sox victorious with a score of 4-2.
The team that had just lost the series’ lead often gathers strength and gets the result it needs in the decisive game. But this was not the case for the Yankees. The Boston Red Sox won the 7th game 10-3 without experiencing much resistance.
Just like that, the Red Sox advanced to the World Series, where they claimed their first trophy since 1919. The entire city of Boston rejoiced.
9. That Night in Istanbul – 2005
Even those who are not soccer fans know this story. This sports comeback took place in Istanbul in 2005. Liverpool and Milan were competing for the Champions League title, and before the game started, the chances of both squads to win were considered roughly equal.
But Milan netted three unanswered goals in the 1st half and went into halftime with a much more than a comfortable lead. Here’s when crazy betting started. Of course, no one seriously believed in Liverpool’s victory anymore. It sure looked like there was no coming back. But the odds were so high that one could make big money by betting some tiny pennies.
Liverpool went into the second half energized. Electrified, even. Accompanied by the legendary You’ll Never Walk Alone song, which was heard from the stands, the Englishmen netted 3 goals in the first 15 minutes of the 2nd half, completing the comeback.
Then the game relatively calmed down. Both teams attacked a lot, but no more goals were seen in the regular or extra time of the match.
And here it is, the penalty shootout. Milan got off to a terrible start. First, Serginho sent his shot over the crossbar, and then the fantastic Andrea Pirlo couldn’t put the ball past Jerzy Dudek. Liverpool responded with a missed shot from John Arne Riise. The score was 3-2 after 4 shots.
And here Andriy Shevchenko comes to the ball. The fantastic Ukrainian had already delivered the Champions League trophy to Milan 2 years ago, scoring a decisive penalty to Juventus. But this time, Shevchenko could not outplay Jerzy Dudek.
Liverpool won in one of the intense penalty series. It was their 1st victory in 21 years and also their 5th in the club’s history. It is exactly 5 victories in the Champions League the team needs to keep the dreamed trophy in their museum forever. And the bookies had to pay up, indeed.
8. The Biggest Comeback in College Football Ever – 2006
Sometimes, college football is even more unpredictable than a casino. And some wild things happen there, coming to public attention through the media. Here, the Michigan State Spartans got the attention.
Their game against the Northwestern Wildcats in Division I-A took place back in 2006. With just 10 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, the Spartans were down by a whopping margin of 3-38. But then one of the unbelievable sports comebacks happened. It allowed the Michigan squad to celebrate a 41-38 victory.
The Wildcats were the obvious favorites to lead and win the game, and the first half was predictably easy. Perhaps the players started celebrating too early. The Spartans scored 2 touchdowns late in the 3rd quarter and headed into the last quarter, losing 17-38.
At the start of the last quarter, Michigan State blocked a punt and crafted a touchdown in return. The gap was cut to just 14 points. That’s still a lot, but with almost a full quarter to go, it’s quite possible to rebound.
The Wildcats unintentionally landed a helping hand for their opponents by failing to capitalize on their next 2 drives. Meanwhile, the Spartans converted both of their attempts. So the score became 38-38. And then a Michigan player received the pass and hit the winning shot from the 28-yard distance, bringing unforgettable excitement to the team and the fans.
7. Philadelphia Flyers’ Double Comeback From The 0-3 – 2010
Hockey is a beautiful sport that is fascinating to watch. But it’s not exactly suited for insane comebacks. That makes the Flyers’ 2010 Eastern Conference semifinals even more spectacular. No wonder it’s among the best sports comebacks ever.
Philadelphia got off to a really poor start in that series against the Boston Bruins. The Flyers lost the 1st game through overtime and the 2nd game in regulation time by a 1 goal lead. The third game resulted in a 1-4 defeat. After 3 games, the Flyers were just on the verge of losing the series.
But in the 4th game, something happened. The match was tight and ended in a 5-4 overtime victory for Philly. The Flyers, encouraged, won game five 4-0 and game six 2-1. This tied the series down.
Before the deciding game at TD Garden, many favored the Flyers as the team’s players had their morale up. But Boston players had another opinion. They scored 3 times by the 14th minute of the game! It was only through sheer force of will that the Flyers pulled off another comeback.
They were down twice. In both the last game and the entire series the Philly won 4-3, coming back from the score of 0-3. A curious fact makes this sports success even more significant. The Flyers and Bruins have been bitter rivals since 1974, when they first met in the Stanley Cup finals.
6. When Comeback Meets Comeback – 2013
It was one memorable series between the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs back in the 2013 Eastern Conference quarterfinals. First, they exchanged back-to-back wins. Then the Bruins won two games in a row, making the score 3-1 in the series.
But Toronto showed the tremendous will to win and tied the series in the next 2 games. Twice they won 2-1. And the decisive game at TD Garden started as well as possible for the Canadians. At the beginning of the 3rd period, the score was 4-1 in their favor.
But the Bruins didn’t give up. In the last period, they netted 3 unanswered pucks and put the game into overtime. Remarkably, the last 2 goals were scored by the Boston hockey players in the last 90 seconds of the period. And in overtime, Patrice Bergeron led the Bruins to victory.
This was the rare situation when sports comebacks overlap. It also was the first time in the history of the NHL playoffs when someone won a game being down 3 goals after 2 periods. The situation is further fueled because the Bruins and Maple Leafs are longtime rivals. Their games have had a derby status since 1933.
5. Yacht Racing Has Its Comebacks Too – 2013
Yachting is an extremely specific sport, and its presence in this ranking can only be justified by one thing — one truly unbelievable comeback. Oracle Team USA became the hero in 2013. It happened at America’s Cup. The public took notice of this comeback because of The Wall Street Journal, which dubbed it as one of the greatest in the sport’s history.
Oracle was the winner of last year’s cup. But this time, they were down 1-8, and the competition ran to 9 wins. Easy to figure out that Oracle needed to win 8 heats in a row to come back and become champions.
And that’s exactly what happened. The team sailed flawlessly in 8 consecutive races and won with a final score of 9-8. Even if you don’t have a clue about the rules of yachting, the sheer statistics are still impressive. These kinds of sports comebacks never cease to amaze.
4. Texas A&M Aggies With 14 Points in 34 Seconds – 2016
Just like the Wildcats from the previous story, the Northern Iowa Panthers probably thought the game was already won. But who wouldn’t? With 44 seconds left in the NCAA game, they led 69-57. On paper, it looks like a situation without a possibility of coming back.
But the reality is different. Some say it was one of the biggest choke episodes in basketball history. The Panthers screwed up everything they could. But it’s also one of the biggest sports comebacks. Nothing takes away from the Aggies, who did everything possible to win.
With 34 seconds left, the Texans won the rebound and nailed a two-pointer. Right after that, Iowa lost the ball. This led to one more quick two-pointer.
So, with 25.8 seconds on the clock, it was 69-61 in favor of Iowa. It seemed pretty easy to hold on to the ball for 24 seconds. One of the most amazing sports comebacks shouldn’t happen.
But the Panthers laughed in the face of common sense as they tried to bounce the ball off an Aggies player. An interception and 2 points — who would have thought! And then the Texans converted a three-pointer, cutting the lead to just 3 points.
Only now did the Panthers wake up and score a spectacular dunk. But it was too late. A&M became an unstoppable sports machine. The now-famous Alex Caruso converted yet another two-pointer and a free throw, and with 1.9 seconds to go before the siren, the Texans scored another two-pointer. The game went into overtime.
In extra time, things started all over again, and the players gifted the fans with another 10 minutes of basketball. In the end, the Aggies outlasted Iowa and finished the comeback with a 92-88 lead.
3. The Most Important Comeback in MLB World Series Ever – 2016
The Cleveland Indians were also part of this story, but on the losing side. Its comeback heroes were the Chicago Cubs. This happened back in the 2016 series.
The Cubs reached the World Series finals, but they weren’t regarded as favorites. Even if they had lost, it would have been a super-successful season. But they won by coming back gloriously. Though it started badly — the Tribe won the 1st game confidently 6-0, and in the next 3 games, they made only 1 mistake. As a result, the Cubs were down 1-3.
But the team from Chicago turned everything on its head. The 5th game was very tough. But the Cubs won it. In the 6th game, they came back with a convincing score of 9-3 and the battle moved into the decisive phase.
The 7th game of the series started well for the Cubs. They immediately took the lead and were ahead 6-3 just after the 7th inning. But in the 8th inning, the Indians tied the game at 6-6. The score remained the same in the 9th. The game went into extra innings.
The Cubs took an early 8-6 lead, but the Indians were quick to minimize the deficit. Then the Cleveland players had a chance to win the game with just one player on base. And that’s when Mike Montgomery stepped up. He successfully defended the minimal lead and helped the Cubs win.
The fact that Cleveland hasn’t won the World Series since 1908 makes this sports comeback especially significant. The curse lasted 108 years. According to the Baseball-Reference statistics website, this was the longest streak ever. Only in 2016 did the Cubs finally break the title drought. And they did it in the most impressive manner. What a comeback!
2. Cavaliers’ Meme Comeback Against Warriors – 2016
This comeback was such an epic one that it spawned a lot of memes. Of course, it took place in 2016, when the entire world was on social media. This certainly contributed. But the NBA Finals themselves were also meme-worthy.
You’ve probably witnessed the most popular meme relating to this confrontation. The picture represents an exciting event of some sort. And the caption reads, “Don’t let that distract you from the fact that Warriors blew a 3-1 lead.” Truly, the Internet will not forget this.
So, the 2016 NBA Finals. The Golden State Warriors players, regarded by many as the best squad in NBA history (wow!), are on the 3-1 lead in the series. They ended the regular season with 73 wins. They’ve only lost 9 times. And they need 1 more victory to become champions once again.
But LeBron had a different opinion. Paired with Kyrie Irving, King James merely ripped game 5, leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a 112-97 victory. No kidding, they each earned 41 points! Also in that game, the Warriors’ forward Draymond Green performed an infamous low blow and was banned for the next match.
Buoyed by their success and Green’s suspension, the Cavaliers came out for game 6. LeBron reigned supreme on the court one more time. The King scored 41 points once again, thus earning Cleveland an easy 115-101 lead and evening the series.
In the decisive 7th game, the Cavaliers won 93-89. It was a tough matchup. But a morale boost allowed the Cavs to take it to victory and put the Warriors down.
There were 3 significant events during the last minutes. First, LeBron blocked Andre Iguodala’s two-point attempt. Then Kyrie Irving made a tricky shot to give Cleveland the lead. Then Kevin Love prevented Stephen Curry from regaining the Warriors’ lead.
This is how it was. The Cleveland won NBA for the 1st time ever. Not only did the Cavs do it in a matchup against a major rival, but they also pulled off an incredible comeback. In 2017 and 2018, these teams will meet again in the finals. And both times, the Warriors will win. But this won’t stop the flow of memes about their embarrassing defeat.
1. New England Patriots Comeback From a 3-28 Hole – 2017
You could probably guess that the top seat is reserved for the 2017 Super Bowl. It’s a double historical event. First, the biggest comeback in Super Bowl history. Second, the 1st (and so far, the only) finals that had their fate decided in overtime.
The Patriots approached the game as the favorites. But the Atlanta Falcons surprised the players and the fans with a solid defense in the 1st quarter. It ended in a scoreless tie. And in the 2nd quarter, the Falcons attacked and got themselves 21 points, allowing their opponents to get as many as just 3. And when the Atlanta team achieved another touchdown early in the 3rd quarter and stretched its lead further, Pats fans slowly began to cry over spilled milk.
Not so fast, however. The Falcons’ questionable tactics, coupled with the Patriots’ players’ emotional charge, did the trick. The Pats performed a touchdown before the end of the 3rd period and a field goal early in the 4th. So the lead was cut to 12-28.
Still, scoring 16 points in just 9 minutes in the Super Bowl finals is no simple task. But for the Pats, nothing is impossible. Danny Amendola notched a quick touchdown, and then James White made a 2-point play. A few minutes later, Amendola scored a touchdown after a pass from White to tie the game. 28-28, and the players were facing overtime.
In the extra time, it all was simple. The quick attack ended with a touchdown from the tireless James White. The Patriots earned 31 straight points and won the most incredible Super Bowl of all time.
The Greatest Comebacks in Sports History – Conclusion
Well, it’s been a long list. This list was compiled by sports journalist and staff writer at Slotsspot’s web platform, Tiffany Cutting. Let us congratulate you on getting to the very end of it. We’ve tried to recount some of the most impressive sports comebacks in history. We hope that we have succeeded.
But if one tried to recall all the sports comebacks, the list would’ve been endless. Across all sports, under every circumstance, there’s room for a comeback. And that’s what makes sports so exciting for us.