1. #1
    bigboydan
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    NFL’s Worst Chokes

    These are all pretty bad, but which one do you think is the biggest choke job out of them all?

    NFL’s Worst Chokes

    By Peter Hoy

    This past Sunday, New York Jets kicker Jay Feely was trying to send the game against the Oakland Raiders into overtime with a last-second field-goal attempt from 52 yards away. The ball sailed through the air with plenty of distance – then bounced off the upright. No good.

    Just before the snap, however, Raiders head coach Tom Cable had called for a timeout, so the play was whistled dead before the snap – the kick didn’t count. On his next attempt, Feely made a perfect kick. Had the first attempt counted, Feely might well have earned himself a reputation for choking under pressure. Even so, however, he’d have been nowhere near the worst of all time – or even among the most memorable.

    That title might very well go to Scott Norwood. With eight seconds left in Super Bowl XXV, the Buffalo Bills trailed the New York Giants by just one point. Bills quarterback Jim Kelly had led his team down the field with a two-minute offense to set up kicker Norwood for a 47-yard field-goal attempt as time expired. Norwood choked, missing wide right and leaving the score 20-19 – and becoming the only kicker in history to have missed a last-second field goal when a Super Bowl was on the line.



    A choke, therefore, is less about an athlete’s or team’s all-around performance, and more an assessment of a single, high-pressure situation.

    That’s especially true in the case of Norwood. Sportswriters drew inevitable comparisons to other blunders like Bill Buckner’s flub at first base for the Red Sox in the 1986 World Series against the New York Mets. But overall, Norwood was a top player. He lasted another season, and actually made a game-winning field goal in the AFC title game to propel his team back to the Super Bowl in 1992. He retired from football as the Bills’ all-time leading scorer – a record he held for six years.

    “The professional athlete has to recognize that the media will label their performance,” says sports psychologist and Rutgers professor Charles Maher, “and they have to be able to separate themselves from that.”

    When a player chokes, Maher explains, they’re thinking about things that are out of their control. “It gets them in a state when they’re tense, and as the saying goes, ‘Where the mind goes, the body follows.’”

    To develop our list of the NFL’s worst chokes, we looked at the could’ves, would’ves and should’ves of the NFL record books. We picked from the following: teams that made it to the Super Bowl but lost; teams that lost a game by only one score and would have won if a crucial play had gone differently; and teams that were favored to win playoff games but didn’t. If they didn’t, we say they choked. If they set a record while doing it, we say it was among the worst chokes of all time.

    Ranking up there, by most accounts, are the 2007 New England Patriots, the best team in football during the season – they finished with an unprecedented 16-0 record. But when they faced the underdog New York Giants in Super Bowl XLII, they blew it, and lost 17-14.

    It was a major choke, as an unprecedented, full undefeated season and title were on the line. But it wasn’t nearly as bad a loss, however, as in Super Bowl XXIV, when the San Francisco 49ers whooped the Denver Broncos 55-10 in the most lopsided loss ever allowed by a Super Bowl-caliber team.

    Even that wasn’t as ugly as the 1993 playoff game in which the Houston Oilers allowed the Buffalo Bills to come back and win from a third-quarter 32-point deficit; or as heartbreaking as when Cleveland Browns running back Earnest Byner fumbled the ball in a last-second push for the game-tying touchdown in the 1988 AFC Championship game against the Denver Broncos.

    Could all of these teams and players have used a sports psychologist like Maher? Perhaps, but there’s only so much psychology can do.

    Even a team with better coaching, better players and better odds in Vegas will lose to a lesser club from time to time. Most coaches recognize this, and expectations are not that a psychologist will cure an individual or team, but rather offer support when it’s needed and make sure losses don’t turn a single mental slip into a fixation.

    That’s when chokes become entire losing seasons. And any NFL player would probably agree that they’d rather be a part of a team that choked in its big moment than be a part of a team that never got the chance in the first place.

    The top five:

    1. 1940 NFL Championship Game (Bears pummel Redskins): Slideshow
    2. Super Bowl XVIII (Raiders beat Redskins on “Black Sunday”): Slideshow
    3. Super Bowl XXIV (49ers blast Broncos): Slideshow
    4. Super Bowl XXV (Giants win as Norwood goes wide right): Slideshow
    5. Super Bowl XXVII (Cowboys blast Bills): Slideshow

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  2. #2
    HedgeHog
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    Worst choke was many years ago in a Philly/NYG game where a team ran the ball in the few closing seconds, fumbled and the other team ran it back for the winning score. Miracle in the Meadowlands I beieve it was called. Teams have learned to kneel down ever since. Perhaps someone else can fill in the actual details.

  3. #3
    Stumpage
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    Quote Originally Posted by HedgeHog View Post
    Worst choke was many years ago in a Philly/NYG game where a team ran the ball in the few closing seconds, fumbled and the other team ran it back for the winning score. Miracle in the Meadowlands I beieve it was called. Teams have learned to kneel down ever since. Perhaps someone else can fill in the actual details.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_in_the_Meadowlands

    Everything you need to know to get up to date on that particular event HedgeHog (Probably too much, actually.....)

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  4. #4
    BobHarvey
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    I hate to say it because the guy's been beaten up for so many years. Norwood is #1 on the list.

  5. #5
    Mudcat
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    I immediately think of that Buffalo/Houston game where Houston let a little 32 point lead slip through their fingers.

    Whoops.

    Oh well, it was only the playoffs.

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  6. #6
    HedgeHog
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stumpage View Post
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miracle_in_the_Meadowlands

    Everything you need to know to get up to date on that particular event HedgeHog (Probably too much, actually.....)
    Thanks Stumpage. That's the play I was referring to--what a way to lose!

    PS Mudcat's pick on the Oilers choke job is a legit choice as well.

  7. #7
    cobra_king
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    I would put the Houston collapse at the top of the list. To me a choke is something that happens over the course of time rather than one large mistake ala the "Miracle at the Meadowlands". Watching that Houston game at the time, and watching it more than a few times on "classic" channels, you can just see all the key figures on the Oiler side, from the coach Jack Pardeeto Warren Moon, the the entire Houston defense just wilt.

  8. #8
    nick2060
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    I'm kinda young and haven't even been watchin football for more then 6-7 years but one huge choke that hits me deep is the colts against pittsburgh and having nick harper cut back inside and get tackled by roethlisberger and then to boot mike "mr. perfect" vanderjagt missed the field goal, i think that was the year he was 41/41 or something like that

  9. #9
    daggerkobe
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    Yeah, that was a big choke.

    I liked how Peyton mouthed "He missed it....." as it sailed wide right.

    I had Pitt ML in that game which was like +350

  10. #10
    McBa1n
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudcat View Post
    I immediately think of that Buffalo/Houston game where Houston let a little 32 point lead slip through their fingers.

    Whoops.

    Oh well, it was only the playoffs.
    Yeah, just thinking of the word 'choke' - that's the first thing that popped into my head. NFL Network showed that game in full and does so a couple times/year - its a really really good game, too.

    I think the Giants choking away a 24 (i think) point lead versus the 9rs (with TO) late in the 2nd half in the playoffs is right in there, too - especially how it all ended.

    On the list, though - has to be the Bills getting annihilated by the Cowboys. I don't consider Norwood a choke really - I think the choke was on Buffalo's D moreso - go back and watch the game and see which play sticks out... Oh yeah, that Mark Ingram catch and dance around the entire D for a first down, which IMO, is the best individual play by anyone in a Superbowl - that was just unreal.

  11. #11
    gm2022
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    I know this isnt the biggest melt down ever, but down 23-3 going into the 4th quarter on Monday night and the Bears come back and win with out even scoring 1 single offensive TD was pretty damm amazing!



    Then Dennis Green

    Last edited by gm2022; 10-30-08 at 05:35 AM.

  12. #12
    eidolon
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick2060 View Post
    I'm kinda young and haven't even been watchin football for more then 6-7 years but one huge choke that hits me deep is the colts against pittsburgh and having nick harper cut back inside and get tackled by roethlisberger and then to boot mike "mr. perfect" vanderjagt missed the field goal, i think that was the year he was 41/41 or something like that
    I still wonder to this day wtf was Harper doing? only the QB to beat, and he cuts inside, instead of a easy outside run...

  13. #13
    pavyracer
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    Biggest choke? Going 18-0 and losing on the Superbowl last year as a 14 point favorite.

    Patriots second to none.
    175 pts

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  14. #14
    etothep
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudcat View Post
    I immediately think of that Buffalo/Houston game where Houston let a little 32 point lead slip through their fingers.

    Whoops.

    Oh well, it was only the playoffs.
    My first thought as well. Followed shortly by the Cards/Bears game

  15. #15
    bbyhill
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mudcat View Post
    I immediately think of that Buffalo/Houston game where Houston let a little 32 point lead slip through their fingers.

    Whoops.

    Oh well, it was only the playoffs.
    Thats the one I always think about.My Dad left the OKC airport at the start of the 3rd quarter and when he got home I told him the score and he didn't believe me until he saw it on tv.

  16. #16
    bigboydan
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    Quote Originally Posted by pavyracer View Post
    Biggest choke? Going 18-0 and losing on the Superbowl last year as a 14 point favorite.

    Patriots second to none.
    I concur Mr.Pavy.

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