It’s fun at this time of the year to look back on the best of the past 12 months, but it can be more fun to look at the worst. This week, SI.com will be laughing, cringing and shaking its head at some of the worst things in sports from 2018. Previously: The 10 Worst Coaching Decisions of 2018, The 10 Worst Officiating Decisions of 2018.
Few things in sports can be as disappointing as watching your team slowly (or quickly!) lose its grip on a seemingly comfortable lead. From Delaware allowing Drexel to make the biggest comeback in Division-I history to the Warriors forcing a Game 7 against the Rockets in the Western Conference finals to the Minneapolis Miracle, 2018 was full of moments just like that. Let’s take a look at the worst blown leads of the year—and see who claims the honor of having the worst blown lead of all.
10. Braves blow 10–2 lead to Cubs in awful weather at Wrigley Field
What’s worse than surrendering an eight-run lead? Doing it when it’s 38 degrees and raining with 24 mph winds.
On a raw, drizzly afternoon at Wrigley Field on April 14, the Cubs fell behind the Braves 10–2 after four innings. Chicago cut the lead to 10–5 before reeling off nine runs in the bottom of the eighth en route to a 14–10 victory. The madness started with Kris Bryant getting hit by a pitch, which loaded the bases for the Cubs. Chicago scored on the next play, and a walk right after added another run to the board.
Now within three, Javier Baez hit a bomb straight up the middle and emptied the bases to tie the game. After adding four more runs in their miraculous comeback, the Cubs beat the Braves by four after starting the game down by eight.
9. Arizona misses a bowl after allowing 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter
Arizona State rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat Arizona 41–40 after scoring 20 unanswered points in the fourth quarter of their Nov. 24th meeting. The Wildcats last chance at a win was on a 45-yard field goal attempt by Josh Pollack, which sailed wide right to secure the victory for the Sun Devils. Arizona State’s stunning comeback kept the Wildcats from making a bowl game, leaving Arizona at 5–7 on the season with the loss—one win shy of a postseason appearance.
8. Delaware lets Drexel make the biggest comeback in D-I history
There has literally never been a blown lead as bad as this one in the history of major college hoops.
Delaware was up 53–19 over Drexel with 2:30 left in the first half. The Dragons rallied after half time and brought the game to 79–79 with 3:50 remaining in regulation. The two teams went back and forth following the under-four media timeout but Drexel took its third and final lead with two seconds to go.
Tramaine Isabell scored or assisted on more points than the entire Delaware team during Drexel's 22 minute, 36 second comeback run, finishing with 50 combined points, rebounds and assists and the game-winning shot. Drexel’s 34-point comeback broke a 67-year record for largest comeback set by Duke in 1950.
7. Oregon loses its grip on the ball and the lead
With 2:43 remaining in the third quarter, Oregon held a 24–7 lead when quarterback Justin Herbert missed a bad snap that was sent over his head. Stanford linebacker Joey Alfieri snagged the loose ball and ran 80 yards for a touchdown that turned the tide in favor of the Cardinal. Now down just 10 points, Stanford's star running back Bryce Love added another to close the third quarter.
Oregon answered with an early fourth quarter score, but the Cardinal pressed on, adding another touchdown and a field goal (made possible by yet another Ducks fumble) to tie the game. Stanford secured the win with an overtime TD, bringing the final score to a shocking 38–31.
6. Warriors force a Game 7 against the Rockets
The Splash Brothers led the Warriors’ comeback against the Rockets to force Game 7 in the Western Conference finals despite being down by 17 points after the first quarter. Klay Thompson dropped 35 (on nine made three-pointers), Steph Curry contributed 29 and Kevin Durant added another 23 as the defending champions outscored the Rockets, 93-47, over the final 36 minutes of play while facing their first elimination game since the 2016 Finals.
5. Jaguars fold in AFC title game up 20–10 in the fourth
Jacksonville was oh so close to one of the most surprising playoff victories in recent memory but just couldn’t hold on.
After scoring a field goal to start the fourth quarter, Jacksonville had a 10-point lead and could almost smell its first Super Bowl. The Jags maintained their lead until Tom Brady took over, scoring two touchdowns (both to wide receiver Danny Amendola) for the Patriots in the last nine minutes of play to take the win.
4. Louisville loses to Virginia despite leading by four with 0.9 seconds to go
Leading by four with 3.9 seconds to go, Louisville defended Virginia’s Ty Jerome well enough to force a deep three that went no where near the basket and brought the clock down to 0.9 seconds but they forgot not to foul in the process. Jerome sunk both of his free throw shots from the line, bringing the score to 66–64. Louisville regained possession with less than one second on the clock… and then travelled on the inbound, giving Jerome the ball back.
The then-sophomore guard gave the ball to a hot-handed De’Andre Hunter who sunk a catch-and-shoot three from the wing to win it by one. The Cards allowed the Cavaliers to score five points in 0.9 seconds.
3. March Madness: Nevada comes back from down 22 to Cincinnati
Though it wasn’t as big as Drexel’s 34-point comeback, Cincinnati allowed Nevada to launch the second-largest comeback in NCAA Tournament history when Cody Martin led the Wolf Pack in a rally from 22 points down in the final 11 minutes of their Round of 32 game against the Bearcats.
Nevada escaped with a 75–73 win after Josh Hall converted an offensive rebound with 9.1 seconds left to make the tiebreaking basket for the Wolf Pack, giving them their first lead of the night—and the only one that mattered. The blown lead cost No. 2 Cincinnati a trip to the Sweet 16.
2. The Minneapolis Miracle
It was only one point, but no comeback in sports last year was as dramatic as the Vikings against the Saints in the NFC Divisional Round.
After scoring on a field goal with 25 seconds to go, the Saints led the Vikings 24–23. Fifteen seconds later—with just 10 seconds to play—the New Orleans defense left Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs open enough to catch a crisp 61-yard pass from quarterback Case Keenum, which he ran into the end zone right as time ran out. Diggs miracle play in saved the day Minneapolis and sent the Saints home.
1. Bears get Aaron Rodgers’d after going up 20–0
Aaron Rodgers engineered a second-half dissection of the Bears defense that erased a 20-point deficit and secured a 24-23 comeback win at Lambeau Field in the first Sunday Night Football game of the season. The sensational showing by Rodgers came after Green Bay’s star quarterback was taken from the field in a cart in the first half after injuring his left knee. Rodgers returned in the second half—clearly hurt but still capable of creating the superhuman plays only Aaron Rodgers can—and threw a trio of fourth-quarter touchdown passes as the Packers overcame a 20-0 deficit to beat the Chicago Bears by one.