[Ezra Troy writes his second in a two-part series called, Lovable Losers. This piece looks at two tragic lists: a) most losses in a row; and b) most wins only to come up short in pursuit of a championship.]
Lovable Losers come in many forms. Here are two more “lists” that no sports fan wants to see a hometown team join.
Most Games Lost in a Row
While these teams may have won titles since, they still hold the record for most games lost in a row for their sports.
NFL – Tampa Bay Buccaneers 1976–1977 – 26 games
Coming into the league as an expansion team in 1976 – 1977, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers drafted many aging veterans in the expansion draft. The Bucs were plagued with injury woes on their way to having the NFL’s first “defeated” season (0-14). The one bright spot was the (injury plagued) rookie season of Hall of Famer Lee Roy Selmon. The next year, the team dropped their first twelve games before finally winning one, giving them the record of 26 straight losses that still stands today.
NHL – Washington Capitals 1974–1975 and San Jose Sharks 1992–1993 – 17 games
The Capitals in their first season in the NHL set this record. 17 years later, in their second season in the league the San Jose Sharks tied the mark. This year, the Buffalo Sabres had a large losing streak, but snapped it at 14 before they could match the Capitals and Sharks record.
MLB – Philadelphia Phillies 1961 – 23 games
In 1961, the Phillies finished a league worst 47-107. Losing 23 straight games didn’t help. Enough said.
NBA – Philadelphia 76ers 2014-2015 through 2015-2016 – 26 straight games
The woefully bad 76ers have been bad for a while now, but they actually have the record for most consecutive losses. They ended the 2014-2015 with 23 straight losses, tying the record for most consecutive losses in NBA history. They then lost the first three games of the next season, setting the record for most consecutive losses by an NBA team in regular season history.
Best Winning Streaks without a Championship
As unfortunate as it is, in each of the four major sports a team has set or tied the record for most wins in the regular season, but couldn’t win the championship.
NFL – New England Patriots 2007-2008 – 16-0
Led by all time great seasons by Tom Brady and Randy Moss, the New England Patriots and their eight pro bowlers stormed through the season to have the second – ever undefeated season in NFL history. After easily winning their two playoff games they had a showdown with the New York Giants, who they had played in week 17. With the score 14-10, Eli Manning rolled out on fourth down and threw the ball up to David Tyree, who made the famous helmet catch – which ended up being the last catch of his NFL career. Shortly after, the Giants scored and won the game 17-14, breaking the Patriots’ undefeated season.
NHL – Detroit Red Wings 1995-1996 – 62–13-7
The Red Wings had the greatest regular season in NHL history with 62(!) wins, while having a goal differential of +144. The Red Wings were upset in the Western conference semifinals by the eventual champion Colorado Avalanche.
MLB – Chicago Cubs 1906 – 116-36 and Seattle Mariners 2001 – 116-46
The 1906 Chicago Cubs had a winning percentage of .763. In the only ever all Chicago World Series, the White Sox upset the Chicago Cubs and their famed infield of Tinkers to Evers to Chance. In 2001, the Mariners and their young star Ichiro Suzuki, who won MVP and Rookie of the Year, met the New York Yankees and Derek Jeter in the ALCS just a month after 9/11. The Yankees won the series 4-1 behind great pitching by Andy Petite, only to lose the World Series to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Randy Johnson.
NBA – Golden State Warriors 2015-2016 – 73-9
Lead by Steph Curry and his record smashing 402 three pointers made, the Warriors lost 9 games the whole regular season. Unfortunately for them, they also lost 9 in the playoffs. In the semifinals, they almost were upset by the Oklahoma City Thunder, before squeezing out a 4-3 victory. In the finals, they blew a 3-1 lead and then lost an all-time great game 7 to lose the series to LeBron James and the Cavaliers.