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"Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"
Al Michaels, calling the "Miracle on Ice" game.

A pre-requisite of sporting flicks, where the competitor or team (usually the underdog, see David Versus Goliath) seems to be on their way down, until a pivotal moment happens (often a case of Put Me in Coach), after which the team stages, yes, a miraculous comeback ending in victory.

Of course, this is a case of Truth in Television - several teams and individuals in the history of organized sports have, in fact, accomplished nearly impossible comebacks to win games no one thought they could possibly win anymore. The National Hockey League, for example, has seen at least four teams turn 5-0 scores against them into 6-5 victories - the Los Angeles Kings in 1982 against the Edmonton Oilers (the so-called "Miracle on Manchester"), the St. Louis Blues against the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2000, the Montreal Canadiens in 2008 against the New York Rangers, and the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009 against the Calgary Flames.

Also see Down to the Last Play. When the computer suddenly returns from near-defeat in a game, its Rubber Band AI has snapped.

When the work does not involve sports, then this is the Misfit Mobilization Moment.

Compare Heroic Second Wind, the fighting equivalent.

It could be considered a Wham! Episode if the rally involves a completely expected ending, especially in the final game.

Warning: Major spoiler alerts!

Examples of Miracle Rally include:


Anime and Manga

  • From Eyeshield 21, Deimon Devilbats often scored out by a large margin, only to fight back and win their game from 2nd half. Subverted since the quarterback, Hiruma knows that the team will most likely get trounced, and using the game to learn about their enemies, sometimes to install his mind trap and preparing the team to pull crazy stunts that won't work twice, and with all of this, manages to scores while destabilizing his opposition. Also, there are several instances where they don't catch up in time and lose anyway.
    • Their game with the Teikoku Alexanders is probably the most ridiculous example. They end up having to score enough touchdowns to win with nine minutes left in the last quarter, having not scored a single point for the whole game up to that point. Against a team that had won every single Christmas Bowl there had ever been for the last twenty years, and who had never given up a single point against their opponents in all that time. And they manage it, too. Then again, winning the Christmas Bowl for the protagonist team was the point of the whole series.
  • As a parody of Cooking Duel anime, Kujibiki Unbalance has quite a few miracle rallies:
    • In an Iron Chef-style cooking contest with the special ingredient being mushrooms, Akiyama Tokino eats everything her team has made; they then have five minutes to come back, with only one (poisonous) type of mushroom left. The team then succeeds in perfectly preparing the mushroom, removing the poison and winning the contest by maximizing the mushroom's taste.
    • In a 7 vs. 4 war game, 4 of the opponents switch sides, allowing the protagonists to win.
    • In a contest to see which team can get more page hits over the course of an hour, the opposing team keeps putting up drawings of cute anime-style girls; with 15 minutes left, the protagonists (three of whom are girls) start a live webcam with the girls wearing bikinis and go on to win.
  • Ah! My Goddess TV: The NIT Auto Club is running into trouble in a desert rally race against the NIT Four Wheels Club; the Auto Club is in a claptrap three-wheeler, driven by Keiichi, while the Four Wheels Club is in a larger car driven by a professional off-road racer. The turning point comes when the three-wheeler is capable of driving along a bulkhead that serves as an excellent shortcut, while the Four Wheels Club's car bogs down in a dune. (In a way, this is literally a "miracle rally", as the Auto Club has two goddesses on its side... and only Belldandy's magic holds the three-wheeler together to the finish line.)
  • Most duels in Yu-Gi-Oh! and Yu-Gi-Oh! GX will have the hero being beaten for most of the game, until he pulls an astounding move to claim victory.
    • Although there are many 'false' turning points that lead one to believe that the hero has won as the baddie makes a extremely surprised face, only to find that 5 seconds later, the baddie is chuckling at their futile attempt.
  • Happens on a regular basis in Major. The main character, Goro, often finds himself involved in (if not leading) a Miracle Rally due to always ending up on underdog teams (usually by his own choice - he thrives on the challenge of playing against the best).
  • Happens in the "If we lose this it means The End of the World as We Know It" Baseball game in Suzumiya Haruhi. Admittedly this is because Yuki cheats and modifies the attribute data of the baseball bat the team uses ('Homing Mode'). Kyon asks her to disable it afterwards, and the team go right back to sucking again... but they still win. And then forfeit, because Haruhi's had her fun. And then Kyon sells the other team the bat.
  • Subverted in Madonna, where the protagonists nearly come back from a 40-0 halftime deficit in the rugby tournament semifinals only to fail to score the winning try as time expires.

Fan Fiction

  • The Fruits Basket college football fic "Jimmy & Kyo". UCF vs Ohio State. UCF takes an early 14-10 lead at the end of the first quarter before going down 24-14 at halftime and 31-14 after the second half kick-off. Then, they pull off two unanswered touchdowns and after a nerve-wrecking drive by Ohio State, take a 35-31 lead with less than 10 seconds remaining and win.

Film

  • The Blind Side: Michael leads one in the Crusaders-Lions game.
  • The Waterboy: The pivotal moment being Bobby Boucher's arrival at the Bourbon Bowl at halftime
  • In both of the first two Major League movies, the Indians start their Miracle Rally when Pedro Cerrano hits a game-changing home run on an 0-2 count when he'd missed the first two pitches by a mile.
  • Rocky Balboa. Every single time.
    • Except the first time. Then, he just avoided being KO'd.
    • And the third time he won early in the fight.
    • The rematch with Apollo was fairly even, and didn't end until the very end of the fight. It's not a movie convention either.
    • Didn't really happen in Rocky Balboa either.
    • It's really open to YMMV, since it's harder to determine whether someone is 'losing' or not in boxing then it is in other sports since there's no real scoring system (yes the judges do keep score but they don't determine anything unless no one wins straight out.)
  • Every Disney movie involving a rookie sports player ever.
  • In Lonesome Jim, the protagonist gets to train a girl's basketball team (previously trained by his suicidal brother.) They've been losing all their games. After he gives them an inspirational speech, they do score! It's all very stirring. Then cut to the end of the game: they haven't scored a single point since and have been defeated once more. It's very funny.
  • Happens twice in DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story:
    • First in the Average Joes' penultimate match; Gordon, alone on the floor against five or six college athletes, flies into a rage upon seeing his mail-order bride flirting with another man in the stands. He then proceeds to beat down the other team on his own, screaming like a madman.
    • The final match does this again. Justin is the last Joe standing against Globo Gym-- he makes a miraculous catch to bring Kate off the bench, who within two seconds catches a ball to bring Peter in and give Average Joe's a 3-2 player advantage.

Literature

  • Frequently subverted in Roy MacGregor's Screech Owls series, where the Screech Owls hockey team (despite almost always being the underdog) win and lose tournaments in a fairly realistic manner.
  • There's a Miracle Rally in the Big Match in Unseen Academicals. Justified, because they finally figure out how they can use Trev's Chekhov's Skill.

Live Action Television

  • In of Season 14 of The Amazing Race, Jaime & Cara got lost twice looking for clues on the penultimate leg, almost guaranteeing their elimination. Kisha & Jen got lost themselves, and got U-Turned, but still went into the Roadblock with a huge lead on the cheerleaders. Things looked over until Jen struggled with the Foreign Queasine Roadblock, then had herself a Potty Emergency. Meanwhile, Jaime & Cara got an amazing cab driver, Cara blazed through the Roadblock, and they managed to steal the last spot in the Final 3 while Jen was in the bathroom.
    • Uchenna & Joyce's karmically fueled comeback to win Season 7, which they did despite having no money to start the leg and having to beg for money to pay their cab driver at the Finish Line. They actually talked their way onto a flight after it was closed and the pilot had pulled away from the gate.
      • Also on Season 7, Debbie & Bianca came close, but ultimately failed, in leg 3. They got lost early in the leg, drove two hours in the wrong direction, and then had to drive two more to get back on course. Still, when they got to the four pounds of meat Roadblock, there were still four teams sitting there (three having already quit the challenge, while the fourth was contemplating it). Debbie scarfed down her four pounds of meat, yet they were ultimately eliminated by a matter of minutes.

Poetry

  • Subverted in "Casey at the Bat". A series of mediocre players make it to base, and it looks like Mudville will come back at the last moment. Then their team hero, Casey, strikes out, losing the game.

Video Games

  • A frequent complaint by players of Madden NFL Football is that computer teams that the player was beating handily will become nearly unstoppable in the final minutes (see also Rubber Band AI).

Western Animation

  • A standard part of the story formula of the Harlem Globetrotters cartoon show where the team is put in an unusual playing venue and they fall hopelessly behind in the first half. However, the team always finds a way to even the odds, and suddenly they are invincible in the second half and win.
  • Hey Arnold!, "Mudbowl": With the 4th graders trailing the 5th graders 0-42 at halftime of a game of (American) football, the pivotal moment is Phoebe switching in Arnold as quarterback to replace Helga.
    • And for the record, Arnold's knowledge of the game seems comparable to that of a wet sponge. His plays are usually stated to be a combination of well-known trick plays that would be completely incompatible with each other (the Statue of Liberty and the flea flicker, for instance).
      • Statue of Liberty combined with a flea-flicker can be executed. Quarterback goes back to pass, fakes and laterals to the running back, drawing the defense into thinking it's a run play. The running back then laterals back to the quarterback to pass down field to the now open wide receiver (or the running back throws the ball himself).
  • Subversion: Rocket Power, "Power Play": A roller hockey game is going on in which the winner will get to play with NHL stars. With the main characters' team trailing their rivals 0-4 with 13 minutes remaining, the pivotal moment is the team putting in Sam, their regular goalie, to replace Lars (a more aggresive goalie without The Power of Friendship). They end up fighting back to 3-4 in the final minute, prompting one of the stars to comment "What a comeback! One of the best I've ever seen." Unfortunately, when Otto puts in a shot from long distance at the horn, it's disallowed, making for a Downer Ending.
  • Subverted in the South Park episode "Big Gay Al's Big Gay Boat Ride," when Stan makes it back to the game in time to lead the South Park Cows to a touchdown so that they only lose by 70 points (and cover the spread).
  • Subverted and Mocked on The Simpsons. Homer is being pounded in the boxing ring by a No Celebrities Were Harmed Mike Tyson when Marge charges the ring to tell him to fight back. The music swells as Homer defiantly declares "I've got to knock. him. out." He takes one slow-motion haymaker...and misses wildly, letting Drederick Tatum have another free shot.

Real Life

  • Real life example in two words: Frank Reich.
    • On November 10, 1984, in his college years, he led Maryland over Miami 42-40 after being behind 31-0 at halftime.
    • And, of course, in the January 3, 1993 NFL playoff game, sparked the Buffalo Bills' rally over the Houston Oilers, winning 41-38 (in overtime) after being behind 35-3 early in the third quarter.
  • Another perfect example: The Music City Miracle
  • UEFA Champions League final, Istanbul, 2005. (Liverpool were trailing 0-3 at the break before levelling it in the second half and winning on penalties).
  • Wimbledon 2011 Quarter Final pitched Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga against 6-time winner and arguably the greatest player of all time, Roger Federer. Federer had won both matches he'd previously played against Tsonga and built up a convincing 2-set lead. Another day, another Federer whitewash. The commentators were already anticipating a Federer Vs Djokovic semi-final. But Tsonga took the third set. And the fourth. And all of a sudden he was a break up in the 5th set and finished Federer off, 3-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. This was the first time that Federer had EVER lost a grand slam match after going two sets up. It was the shock of the tournament.
  • The NC State basketball team that won the 1983 NCAA men's championship was nicknamed "The Cardiac Pack" because they staged a miracle rally with a last second score almost every single game.
  • Julio Cesar Chavez, having been badly outboxed by Meldrick Taylor and needing a knockout to win their bout, manages to knock Taylor down with 15 seconds left in the final round. Taylor gets up, but stares blankly at the ref when twice asked if he was ok and could continue, so the ref stops the bout... with two seconds left.
  • Brett Favre was famous for this during his tenure as quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. The worst place for an opponent to be was up by a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
    • A statistical study showed Favre to actually be merely above-average at fourth-quarter rallies. John Elway is a better example having the record for most come back wins in the 4th quarter, as is (surprisingly) his successor with the Broncos, Jake Plummer. The best current example is probably Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger.
      • Actually, Dan Marino has more 4th quarter comebacks.
    • According to the Monday Night Football stat crew from Sept. 22, 2008, Brett Favre has never led a comeback of 14 points. He might be an aversion to this trope. This has a lot to do with Brett Favre's personality and play as a gunslinger, he could make a 40 yard pass to either his own player or another player, and is the record holder in both Touchdowns and interceptions.
      • Until now, 11-7-2010. Vikings vs. Cardinals. And in the process, set a career-best 446 passing yards in a single game.
    • And this study lists the best comeback quarterback of the last decade as...walking punchline and Annoying Younger Sibling Eli Manning?
      • Probably due to having fewer opportunities to screw up than Bret--and most of the other people on the list. Also, let's remember Bret has thrown the most career interceptions in all of football. The comeback is destined to either end on a Bret Favre touchdown or a Bret Favre interception. None of that "defensive stand" crap.
    • The fact that this string about NFL comebacks has no mention of Roger "Captain Comeback" Staubach is disturbing...
  • The 2007 Colorado Rockies won 13 of their last 14 regular-season games just to force a tie with San Diego for the wild card lead, made even more unbelievable by the fact that the Padres were one strike away from clinching a playoff spot with one game to spare before the all-time saves leader gave up a game-tying triple to Tony Gwynn Jr. (for those who don't know, Tony Gwynn Sr. was "Mr. Padre.") Then the Padres took an 8-6 lead in the top of the 13th inning of the one-game playoff. The Rockies won (on an extremely controversial run from Rockies leftfielder Matt Holliday; review appeared to show that he never touched home plate and even Holliday had his doubts that he did-- Padres fans are still pissed about this and it had fueled the fire of their rivalry). Then they swept their first two playoff opponents for an overall 21-1 run from September 16th to October 15th. Repeat: from the middle of September to the middle of October, the Rockies had 21 wins and only 1 loss.
  • Both Teen Jeopardy tournaments in the 06-07 season had the two-day final with one person down 25K+ dollars, then coming back to win on day two of the final. The first teen tournament showed David Waler beating the runaway victor of day one Ben Schenkel, and the second tournament had Meryl Federman come from third place to beat the day one victor Greg Peterson.
  • The 2004 ALCS. The Boston Red Sox became the first and only team in baseball history (and only the third team in any North American professional sport) to overcome a three games to none deficit to win a best of seven series. To add to the drama, after being thrashed 19-8 in Game 3 to go down 3-0 in the series, the Red Sox were three outs away from being swept in Game 4, and the Yankees had on the mound arguably the greatest relief pitcher in baseball history, Mariano Rivera. The Red Sox managed to tie and eventually win Game 4, outlasted the Yankees in a 14-inning marathon in Game 5, then went to New York to take Games 6 and 7 and the series. And as if that wasn't brilliant enough, they did this on their way to the first Red Sox World Series victory in eighty-six years. Why hasn't this movie been made yet?
    • And then the city of Boston exploded.
      • Heck, the entire New England region started whooping and hollering. That series made the actual World Series that year (where the Sox swept a lackluster St. Louis Cardinals team) look anticlimactic.
  • The aforementioned feat of overturning a 3-0 deficit in a seven-game series has been achieved four times in North American sport, and the remaining three have all been in the playoffs for the Stanley Cup, ice hockey's top prize:
    • In 1942, the Toronto Maple Leafs lost the first three games of the Stanley Cup final series against the Detroit Red Wings, only to turn things around in the remaining four games, making the Maple Leafs the only team to overturn a 3-0 deficit in the final series for any major North American sport.
    • In 1975, in only their third year as an NHL franchise, and having finished stone dead last in their first two years, the New York Islanders reached their first seven-game playoff series, playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in their conference semi-final series. The Islanders did not so much as take the lead in their first three games, but then turned the tables and prevented the Penguins from so much as taking the lead in the following four games. (They very nearly repeated the feat against the Philadelphia Flyers in the conference final series, losing the first three games but winning the next three before losing the decider.)
    • In the 2010 Eastern Conference Semifinals, the Philadelphia Flyers lost the first three games to the Boston Bruins. The Flyers proceeded to rally back and win the next three games (with their backup goalie, no less, because the regular starter was injured in Game 4) to force a Game 7. The Bruins struck quickly and rallied to a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 7, but then the Flyers' coach called timeout to rally the troops. The Flyers scored a goal before the end of the first period, and then two more in the second to tie the game. In the third period, Boston took a too many men on the ice penalty, putting the Flyers on the power play. The Flyers proceeded to score on the power play and hold on to the 4-3 lead, making them not only the third team to win a playoff series after losing the first three games, but also the third team to rally back from a three goal deficit in Game 7.
  • Chelsea vs Stoke City, FA Premier League, 17th January 2009. Chelsea were 1-0 down with two minutes left, however they equalized, then with seconds remaining they scored the winner.
    • Bettered: Manchester United vs Bayern Munich, Champions League Final, United 1-0 down in injury time, score 2 goals to win the competition.
    • Tottenham Hotspur have been on the receiving end of these a few times in recent years. In 2001, they were 3-0 ahead at half time against Manchester United in a Premiership match and went on to lose 5-3. Two years later, and they led 3-0 at half time again, against Manchester City, with one of Man City's players having been sent off, and they lost 4-3. Two years ago, they were leading 3-1 away at Chelsea in an FA Cup match with 15 minutes left (although they hadn't led 3-0 this time), before Chelsea scored twice in twelve minutes to salvage a 3-3 draw. Chelsea won the replay and went on to win the competition.
    • San Lorenzo vs River Plate, "Libertadores" Cup, 8th May 2008. San Lorenzo were 0-2 with two players sent off and only 20 minutes to go and managed to make a comeback and tie the game. Since they had won the first match, they qualified for the quarterfinals.
    • A UEFA Champion's league quarter-final tie between Chelsea and Liverpool was full of these. Chelsea had won the first leg 3-1 at Anfield, leaving Liverpool needing to win by three goals (or win by two goals scoring more than three). Liverpool had managed to turn over the two-goal aggregate deficit by racing into a 2-0 lead in the first half, needing to score just one more to progress. However, Chelsea came back to lead 3-2 with just fifteen minutes to go and seemingly book their place in the last four. Then Liverpool scored twice in two minutes to lead 4-3 and need just one more goal to go through on away goals. Chelsea then equalised with one minute left to secure a 4-4 draw and progress 7-5 on aggregate.
    • In a Second Division match in December 1957, Charlton Athletic were playing hosts to Huddersfield Town (then managed by future Liverpool manager Bill Shankly), and after losing their captain Derek Ufton to injury (at a time when there were no substitutes) after 17 minutes, they were trailing 5-1 with only 27 minutes left, with spectators leaving in droves. Then, in the space of 18 minutes, Johnny Summers scored four goals for Charlton and set Buck Ryan up for a fifth to give Charlton a 6-5 lead; Stan Howard equalised for Huddersfield with four minutes left, but Summers set Ryan up for a second goal with a minute left to give Charlton an astonishing 7-6 win. Huddersfield became the only team in professional football to score six goals in a match and still lose.
    • West Bromwich Albion were 3-0 at half time against West Ham United in the 2010/11 season. The game ended in a 3-3 draw.
    • The 2011 League Cup Semi Final between Birmingham City and West Ham United. After the first half of the second leg had been played, Birmingham were 3-1 down on aggregate, 1-0 down on the night. They pulled it back to 3-3 in the second half, and then scored the winning goal in extra time to progress to the final.
  • In a 2001 regular-season game, the Cleveland Indians came back from a 12-run deficit to beat the Seattle Mariners 15-14 in extra innings. And this was a Mariners team that won 116 games that year, good enough to tie the all-time Major League record.
    • In a 2008 regular-season game, the Florida Marlins led from the very beginning of the game (literally--Hanley Ramirez led off the top of the first with a first-pitch home run) right up until the Colorado Rockies scored twice in the bottom of the ninth to win it 18-17. The Florida lead had been as much as nine runs at one point.
      • Also in the 2008 regular season, the Boston Red Sox led the Texas Rangers 10-0 after one inning, 12-2 after three. Then the Rangers scored eight in the top of the fifth to pull to within 12-10 and five more in the sixth to take a 15-14 lead. They scored another run in the top of the seventh, but then the Red Sox scored in the bottom of the inning and then four more to take a 19-16 lead after eight, winning 19-17. A prolonged Miracle Rally by one team, and then a Miracle Rally by the other team to get the lead back.
  • "The Shot Heard 'Round The World" -- the 1951 N.Y. Giants may have had the LONGEST Miracle Rally in all of sports, lasting several weeks. They overcame a double-digit game lead by the Brooklyn Dodgers to pull into a tie when the season ended, then in the bottom of the 9th, in game three of a three game tiebreaker series, with a walk-off home run to win the pennant. Considered one of the most dramatic moments in all of Baseball history.
    • No, that honor has to go to the 1978 New York Yankees, who were at one point 14.5 games behind Boston and in fourth place in the division. They then went to take a lead in the division, but Boston didn't just go away. Holding a one-game lead with eight games remaining, the Yankees proceeded to win their next seven games. The Red Sox won all eight, forcing a tie on the final day of the season. The one-game playoff that followed was representative of the season as a whole, with the Red Sox taking an early lead, the Yankees bouncing back late, and the Red Sox making a rally of their own but falling just short.
  • Super Bowl XLIII featured a Miracle Rally by both teams in the fourth quarter, both rallies being different types. Trailing 20-7 halfway through the fourth quarter, the Arizona Cardinals scored two touchdowns and a safety to take a 23-20 lead with only two and a half minutes left. Just when it seemed that this was Underdogs Never Lose at its finest, the Pittsburgh Steelers mounted a single-drive Miracle Rally capped off by an amazing catch by Santonio Holmes for the game winning TD.
  • 2008 ALCS Game 5. Up three games to one, the Tampa Bay Rays scored two runs in the top of the seventh to extend their lead to 7-0. Book them for the World Series, right? Not so fast! With two outs and a runner on second, the Boston Red Sox got back-to-back singles, followed by a home run. 7-4. Next inning, another home run cuts it to 7-6 with none out, but the next two get out. Double, then single after a 13 pitch at bat. 7-7 game after eight innings. After a double play allowed the Red Sox to escape the top of the ninth without allowing a run, they again proceeded to end up with two out and none on, before a single and an error put a runner on second. After an intentional walk to set up the force, they single in the run to win 8-7 after trailing 7-0 with only seven outs remaining. They then won Game 6 before finally losing in seven games.
  • The Miracle on Manchester. In Game 3 of their best-of-5 division semi-final against the Los Angeles Kings in 1982, the Edmonton Oilers, who were the No.1 seed and were led by such rising stars as Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier, rocketed to a 5-0 lead (including two short-handed goals) by the end of the second period. In the final twenty minutes, the Kings pulled level, with three goals coming in the last five and a half minutes and the equalising goal coming with just five seconds left. In overtime, Messier nearly scored a winning goal for the Oilers within seconds thanks to an error of judgement by Kings goaltender Mario Lessard, but it was Daryl Evans who scored the winner for Los Angeles after two and a half minutes. The Kings won the series 3-2 to advance to the division final, where they lost to the Vancouver Canucks in five games.
  • 5-0 scores into 6-5 victories is not just for the NHL. In 2007, the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 6-5 after trailing 5-0 entering the bottom of the ninth. In 2008, the Arizona Diamondbacks replicated the feat against the Milwaukee Brewers, but this was largely forgotten because A. Boston has a larger fan base than Arizona and Milwaukee, and Baltimore probably does, too; B. Boston's version got a catchy name: "The Mother's Day Miracle", due to being on Mother's Day; and C. one day after Arizona pulled it off, the Rockies-Marlins game mentioned above happened.
  • Eight points in seventeen seconds. And this is before the three-point line.
  • The 2006 Monday Night Football game where the Chicago Bears beat the Arizona Cardinals after being behind by 20 points when the second quarter started. And all of the Bears' touchdowns were earned entirely by the defense and the special teams because Rex Grossman had a horrible performance during the game. The Bears finalized their win when the Cardinals kicker Neil Rackers [who, we might add, before this was known for being a damn good kicker] missed a 40 yard field goal that would have given them the lead. The final score was 24-23 for the Chicago Bears, and it was #6 on NFL.coms top 10 comebacks of all time. It also resulted in Dennis Greens epic "They are who we thought they were" meltdown. It was such an epic collapse by a team with a reputation for disappointment that even if you were a fan of the winning team, you couldn't help feeling a bit bummed.
  • In Game 4 of the 2008 Finals Series between the Celtics and the Lakers, the Lakers were trailing the Celtics 2-1 in the best-of-seven series after winning Game 3. In Game 4, the Lakers jumped to a high and early lead, going up to 24 points at one point in the first half and leading by 20 points in the third half. Celtics coach Doc Rivers made defensive adjustments, he told his team to play defense, and the Lakers, who'd had trouble completing third quarters, didn't play with the energy they'd brought to the first half. The Celtics chipped away at the Lakers' lead, despite the Lakers' attempts to keep it back up, and the Celtics ultimately pulled ahead to win 97-91 and take a 3-1 series lead, which was practically a death sentence for the Lakers' season; only eight teams have come back from that deficit, and no one has done it in a Finals series.
  • How could anyone forget Tracy McGrady's miracle 13 points in 35 seconds? With his team down 8 with 35 to go, everyone (even the Rockets fans at the arena) assumed that the Spurs would win simply by making their free throws. They did, but Mc Grady did a lot more. He made one heavily contested three to cut the lead to 5. The next trip up, down 7, he faked a 3-point attempt and got Tim Duncan (a great, intelligent defender) to foul him and MADE THE SHOT as well as the resulting free throw, resulting in 4 points, putting the Rockets down 3. The next trip up, in true climactic fashion, the Rockets were just barely able to get the ball inbounds to McGrady (with no timeouts remaining). He drained ANOTHER three to cut the lead from 5 to 2. On the next trip up for the Spurs, Devin Brown lost the ball and McGrady was (conveniently to almost an uncanny degree) right there to pick the ball up, travel the length of the court and drain the buzzer-beating three to win the game. Unarguably the quintessential example of this trope.
    • Seems like something out of a movie, doesn't it? Each three-pointer McGrady hit was tougher and/or more heavily contested than the last, then you throw in the drama of the Rockets having to throw him a jump-ball on the inbound AND the highly improbable occurrence of Devin Brown losing the ball and McGrady being the closest player to it, coming up and burying the game-winner like a cold-blooded assassin. The only thing that could have made it more cinema-like was if McGrady's last shot was a buzzer-beater.
  • In the 2001 NCAA College Basketball contest between Duke and the University of Maryland, Duke was down 10 points with 54 seconds remaining and came back to win in what is known as the Miracle Minute
  • 1994 Texas State High School Football Playoffs. John Tyler HS has a 41-17 lead over Plano East with 3 minutes left. Plano then throws 4 straight touchdown passes and recovers three straight onside kicks to take the lead. The Announcers get crazier by the minute and this wild comeback plays out. Then CRUELLY subverted at the end, as John Tyler returns the final kickoff for a touchdown of its own. The announcers are so deflated it's practically a Tear Jerker.
  • Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. The Mets were down two runs with nobody on base and were just one out away from being eliminated. Three singles, a wild pitch, and an infamous error later, and the series was tied. Then they trailed 3-0 in Game 7 before rallying to win that one as well.
  • Syracuse rallies not once, not twice, not three times, not four, but FIVE times to send the game into another overtime before pulling away in the sixth. The Orange actually led at multiple points during regulation (heck, it was Connecticut that scored the final points of regulation), but each of the first five overtimes had Connecticut take the lead and 'Cuse unable to do anything but answer.
  • You want to see a real-life equivalent of the Racing Game examples in The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard? Watch the 2008 Olympic Men's 4x100 Freestyle Relay. This was thought to be the toughest obstacle to Michael Phelps's quest for eight gold medals, as the French were favored over the US. While the US had Phelps lead off the race, France saved their best swimmer, world record-holder[1] Alain Bernard, for the anchor. The French also had a solid lead as Bernard entered the pool. Jason Lezak then put up a performance for the ages, finishing his split in just 46.06 seconds, more than a full second better than the 100m world record at the time, to get the USA the win by a mere .08 seconds.
  • In the early 2000s, there was an autistic boy who played for his high school basketball team. He didn't get to play much throughout the season, but during the last few minutes of the championship game, the coach finally lets him onto the court. He promptly scores BASKET AFTER BASKET, as the crowd goes INSANE! And yes, his team wins. There's also a movie in the works.
  • Subverted in the January 2010 NFL wild-card game between the Green Bay Packers and Arizona Cardinals, where the Packers rallied from deficits of 17-0 and 31-10 to tie the game 38-38, and then again at 45-45, only to lose, on all things, a touchdown scored by Arizona's defense.
  • During the 2006-2007 NFL season, the Tennessee Titans were at their lowest point. Their record was 2-7, and by the end of the 3rd quarter against the NY Giants, they were down 21-0. All hope for a decent season (let alone a playoff appearance) seemed lost. But in the 4th quarter, the tide shift was so sudden, even the disenchanted fans were thrown back. By the last minute of regulation, The Titans scored three touchdowns total to tie the game. By the 0:30 mark, Adam "Pacman" Jones made an amazing interception to give the Titans possession again. Around the 0:07 mark, 61-yards away, the punter made a perfect kick across the field, and the ball barely crossed the field goal marker. Even [Titans coach] Jeff Fisher sounded surprised by the comeback during the post game interview. Even more amazingly, that game launched a second Miracle Rally of its own, with the team winning FIVE more games, gaining them a positive win-loss record. Unfortunately, despite the results of various AFC centered games working in the Titans' favor for the wild card slot, the New England Patriots ended their playoffs chances early in game 16. Interestingly enough, the 2009-2010 season hearkened back to that year. After a 0-6 deficit (with game six against the Patriots ending with a brutal 59-0 score), the Titans won the next five games straight, and ended their season at 8-8; just out of playoffs reach.
  • The Miracle at the New Meadowlands. The Philadelphia Eagles, after trailing the New York Giants 31-10 with 8:17 remaining in the 4th quarter, orchestrate an incredible comeback to tie the game 31-31 with 1:16 remaining. The Eagles defense then forces a 3-and-out by the Giants, who drain the clock down to 0:14 before calling time out. On the ensuing punt the ball is snapped high to rookie punter Matt Dodge. This forces him to rush the punt and is unable to direct the ball away from returner DeSean Jackson, who takes the punt 65 yards for the game winning touchdown with no time remaining. Final score: Eagles 38 Giants 31. This is, without question, the greatest 4th quarter comeback victory in Eagles history. Jackson's touchdown is the first of its kind in the history of the NFL (game-winning punt return TD with :00 remaining in regulation).
  • May 7, 1995. The Indiana Pacers are trailing the New York Knicks by 6 in the final moments of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Then Reggie Miller scores 8 points in 8.9 seconds. Three pointer, steal, three pointer, free throw, free throw. This is a bafflingly incredible feat in and of itself, but teammates, opposing players, coaches, and analysts alike were especially amazed that Reggie had the presence of mind to take two steps back and go for a 3 to tie the game after stealing the ball.
  • December 21, 1984. European Championship qualifying match. Spain's only option to enter was to win Malta by 11 or more goals. By half-time, they were winning 3-1. What happened after? Call it perseverance, determination, or as we like to call it, COJONES, but Spain managed to win 12-1 and reach the final (which they lost to France). This is how national TV broadcasted the twelfth goal by Juan Señor.
  • February 5th, 2011. Newcastle vs Arsenal at St James' Park. Arsenal take an early lead and are 4-0 up after 26 minutes. With less than 25 minutes left, Arsenal are still 4-0 up. Newcastle pulled back to 4-4.
  • Sacramento Kings @ Chicago Bulls (2009/12/21) This game. Sacramento is down by 35 points with 8:50 to go in the third quarter and they execute a legendary run in the remaining minutes to win the game. This is the biggest roadgame comeback in NBA history.
  • September 7th, 2011. Philadelphia Union trail New England Revolution 4-1 in an MLS game. Philadelphia comes back to tie the game 4-4, with the game-tying goal scored during stoppage time.
  • On August 25th, 2011, the St. Louis Cardinals were 10 and a half games back in the NL Wild Card race. In just a month's time, they managed to go 22-8 and, thanks to a 9-17 September collapse by the Atlanta Braves, (and a good luck necklace given to manager Tony LaRussa by Carlos Santana,) they drew even with one game to play. The Cards took care of business against Houston. The Braves... squandered a 3-1 lead with Philly plugging single-run innings in the 7th, 9th, and 13th. Cards advance without having to play an extra inning or game!
    • And then, they went on to beat the Phillies and the Brewers to reach the World Series against the Texas Rangers, who had been in the World Series the previous year. In Game 6, the Rangers were one out away from winning the series 4-2, when David Freese hit a triple that tied the game at 7-7. Then, in the 10th, Lance Berkman tied up the game at 9-9 when the Rangers needed one out to win again before David Freese homered in the 11th for St Louis win the game 10-9, and go on to win the World Series the next day, capping off the Miracle Rally that began just over 2 months ago.
      • Altogether, the Cardinals had a .006% chance of winning the World Series. And yet they won.
  • At the same time, the Tampa Bay Rays, who were 9 games back of the then Division leading Boston Red Sox on September 1st, won 6 out of 7 games against the Red Sox that month (they went 10-9 otherwise) which, along with the Red Sox's 7-19 (Tampa Bay games included) collapse, also brought the AL East rivals even heading in to the final day:
    • The Boston Red Sox were ahead of the Baltimore Orioles 3-2 in the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs, only to have the Orioles get two doubles to tie, followed by an outfield hit to win the game 4-3. In 1 hour and 40 minutes, the Red Sox and Braves were out of the playoffs, and the St. Louis Cardinals and Tampa Bay Rays were in. A short timeline is below:
    • 10:23 pm Eastern in Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria hits a home run in the bottom of the 8th; the score is Yankees 7, Rays 6. The Rays began the inning down 7-0.
    • 10:26 pm Eastern in Houston: Cardinals defeat Astros 8-0. At this point, they'd need the Braves to lose to have the wildcard outright. If the Braves won, they'd have to play an additional game to determine the National League wildcard seed.
    • 10:47 pm Eastern in Tampa Bay: Dan Johnson hits a home run to tie the Yankees-Rays game. That was Johnson's first hit since the first month of the season.
    • 11:28 pm Eastern in Atlanta: Hunter Pence scores in the 13th inning for the Philadelphia Phillies to take a 4-3 lead.
    • 11:40 pm Eastern in Atlanta: Game over. Braves are out, Cardinals are in.
    • 11:59 pm Eastern in Baltimore: The Orioles' Nolan Reimold ties their respective game versus the Red Sox at 3-3.
    • 12:02 am Eastern in Baltimore: Robert Andino hits a game-winning single; Orioles win 4-3; it's the backup SS's 7th RBI against Boston in the last eight days. The Red Sox now need Rays to lose to force an additional game for the American League wildcard seed.
    • Just three minutes later...12:05 am Eastern in Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria hits a game-winning home run: Rays 8, Yankees 7. Rays are in, the Red Sox are out.
    • Remember: Tampa Bay was losing 7-0 with six outs to go in Game 162 against the juggernaut Yanks. They had to pull a Miracle Rally just to pull off their September Miracle Rally! It was like a Major League movie come to life (and no team had ever rallied from such a deficit in the final game of the season to get into the playoffs).
    • The Sox, meanwhile, were 89-0 when leading after 8 innings that year, with closer Jonathan Papelbon facing the bottom of the hapless O's lineup with two outs and no one on.
    • This whole ordeal is now Harsher in Hindsight for the Rays and Yankees. Both teams lost in the AL Division Series to the Rangers and Tigers, respectively. "Game 162" was meaningless for the Yankees; they had already won the AL East and were in the playoffs win or lose.
    • It's also this for the Braves when you remember that the Cardinals ended up winning the title.
    • And the historical capper: Both teams set the mark for biggest blown September leads in baseball history. The Red Sox led the Rays for the AL Wild Card by 9 games on September 3rd, the Braves led the Cardinals for the NL wild card by 8.5, and no team had ever squandered such a commanding lead in September, with their mathematical odds of reaching the playoffs each being over 99%. Since the Red Sox are the more signature franchise and were the favorites to win it all after adding superstar Carl Crawford, they grabbed most of the headlines, much to the small consolation of the Braves, who are basically the MLB leader in this trope over the last 20 years.
    • Needless to say, probably the greatest day of baseball ever.
      • Disputable, as also on this ballot is October 20, 2004 (the day the Red Sox won the ALCS, capping their comeback. Like or hate the Sox/Yanks, you still gotta admit, that was an amazing day for baseball as a sport.
      • Actually, I'd argue that October 18, 2004 was far superior. When the clock struck midnight on the 18th, it was Game 4 of the ALCS. Rivera was facing Kevin Millar to lead off the inning. Soon after, Millar walked which led to Dave Roberts on first base which led to the steal, then Mueller's RBI single and then a Red Sox win at around 1:20am give or take. Then, come afternoon, Game 5 of the ALCS with the Red Sox and Yankees began. A 14 inning affair which was as back and forth as Game 4 was which ended with David Ortiz begin the hero again right around 11pm when the game finally ended. Tack on the fact that there was a very good NLCS game going on at the same time which was an exciting pitcher's duel between Woody Williams and Brandon Backe. The game was won (shockingly enough, despite being started 3 hours later than the ALCS game, about a few minutes before Game 5 ended) on a 3-run walk off homer by Astros second baseman Jeff Kent. It's hard to top the Miracle Mile that the Red Sox pulled off and the amazing ballgame at Minute Maid Park within the span of 24 hours. 2011 and this day are definitely 1-2 on this list (YMMV which one is higher)
  • October 8, 2011, Nebraska vs Ohio State: Nebraska was down 27-6 midway through the third quarter when Nebraska physically took the ball away from Braxton Miller, and Taylor Martinez ran it in on the very next play, and Nebraska scored 28 unanswered points to win 34-27.
  • Israeli basketball state cup, 2007-2008: European and local juggernaut, Maccabi Tel-Aviv (a five-time Euroleague champion, 9-time finalist, 49-times Israeli champion, 39-times Israeli cup holder, with general dominance over the entire league), coming off a ten-win streak (both local league and Euroleague), faced off against Hapoel Jerusalem - who, at the time, was 3rd place in the Israeli league. Like most people had expected, by the end of the 3rd quarter, Maccabi was leading comfortably - about 20 points in her favor. But then, as the 4th quarter began, Hapoel started to score, again and again, stealing every other ball, doing amazing feats (such as a 5 foot, eleven inch point guard stealing the ball from over a 6 foot, 9 inch center) putting up an incredible defense and slicing through the points gap. By the end of the fourth quarter, Hapoel had done a 38-16 run and won the cup, 93-89.
  • College basketball, February 16 2012, Duke vs NC State. Duke was trailing NC State 61-41 with 11:30 to go in the game but came back to win 78-73.
  • State of Origin is an annual best-of-three rugby league series between teams representing the Australian states of Queensland and New South Wales. Queensland have managed at least two miracle rallies in the tournament's history:
    • In Game II in 1989, Queensland lost players to a broken leg, a fractured eye socket, an elbow injury, and a bruised shoulder to completely use up their substitutes for the match; a fifth player, Bob Lindner, played on with a fractured ankle until five minutes before the end, leaving Queensland with 12 men. They still held on for a win.
    • In Game I in 1994, New South Wales led 12-4 with five minutes remaining. Willie Carne scored a try for Queensland, and the successful conversion made it 12-10; New South Wales kept Queensland pinned in their own half until an unlikely series of passes on the final set of the game led to a try by Mark Coyne with just 32 seconds left on the clock. Watch Coyne's try here. (New South Wales recovered from their loss by winning Games II and III to win the series.)
  • In the last 16 of the 2012 Champions League, Chelsea were trailing Napoli 3-1 from the first leg, only to win 4-1 in extra time. Then, in the semifinals, they were 2-0 down against Barcelona and down to ten men, and they salvaged a 2-2 draw with a dramatic stoppage time equaliser. (Although a 2-1 loss would still have seen them through on away goals)
  • Game 1 of the Clippers/Grizzlies playoffs of 2012. The Clippers were down as by much as 27 points. Coach Vinnie Del Negro almost decided to bench Chris Paul and the other starters and give up the game but Paul convinced Del Negro to give them a chance to win the game. This was the result. Of special note is Nick Young, who hit three 3 pointers in a row.
  • 13 May 2012, the final day of the Premier League season. Manchester City vs. Queens Park Rangers. City has a chance to clinch their first title since 1968 with a win. QPR leads 2-1 going into five minutes of stoppage time. Edin Dzeko scores the equaliser in minute 92, but meanwhile, City's crosstown rivals United beat Sunderland to apparently snatch the trophy. Cue Sergio Aguero scoring the winner for City, on the very last kick of the season, to win the championship, in what can only be described as a Crowning Moment of Awesome for the entire sport of football.

Notes

  1. Official individual world records can only be set in the first leg of a relay or in a non-relay. Bernard held the 100m record as of the start of the race, though it was broken in the first leg of this relay by Australia's Eamon Sullivan. Bernard took back the record in the semifinals of the 100m free a few days later only to immediately have Sullivan best him again--with a time of 47.05 seconds
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