Yogi Berra is quoted as saying, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” The phrase “Never say die” is also used in sports. These expressions summon memories of teams that faced what seemed like insurmountable odds but found a way to win.
The 1992 Buffalo Bills
During the final game of the 1992 regular season, Bills starting quarterback Jim Kelly suffered a serious knee injury. Backup quarterback Frank Reich took the helm the following week in the wild card playoff game against the Houston Oilers. Early in the third quarter, the Oilers had a seemingly overwhelming 35 to 3 lead. As quarterback for the Maryland Terrapins, Reich guided his college team to one of the greatest comebacks in NCAA history. He bolstered his “Comeback Kid” mystique by leading the Bills to a 41 to 38 overtime victory against the Oilers in the NFL’s greatest playoff comeback.
The 2004 Boston Red Sox
It was known as the “Curse of the Bambino.” After trading Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, the Red Sox had failed to win a World Series title since 1918. It looked as if the curse would prevail in 2004. The “Bosox” were down three games to none against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series. Trailing in the bottom of the ninth and facing elimination in Game 4, the Sox rallied to win in extra innings against their archrivals. This allowed the team to reverse the curse and capture their first World Series title in 86 years.
The 2008 Boston Celtics
Leading the 2008 NBA Finals two games to one, the Boston Celtics trailed the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 4 by a score of 35 to 14. It was the largest first quarter lead in the history of the NBA Finals. Looking to tie the series at two games apiece and reverse the Celtic’s early momentum, the Lakers held the lead well into the third quarter. The Celtics rallied back within 2 points during a stunning 21-3 run. They then took and held the lead with a little over four minutes left. The team won the title in six games.
The 2010 Philadelphia Flyers
Taking a cue from the 2004 Red Sox team, the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers rallied to pull off a spectacular comeback against the Boston Bruins in the NHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. The team faced several close calls during the series. After trailing the Bruins three games to none and facing elimination in Game 4 like the “Bosox,” the Flyers also won in overtime. The team later won the series in seven games. The Philadelphia Flyers joined the Red Sox, the New York Islanders and the Toronto Maple Leafs as the only teams to overcome 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series.
Oracle Team USA
The America’s Cup is one of the world’s most famous sporting events. The 34th installment of this storied yachting event occurred in 2013 on San Francisco Bay, as Oracle Team USA defended the Cup against a boat representing the Royal New Zealand Yacht Club. The American boat found itself down eight races to one and facing elimination until they pulled off a historic, unprecedented comeback by winning seven races in a row. Trailing early in the first final winner-take-all race since 1983, Oracle Team USA came from behind to win the race successfully defending the oldest trophy in international sports.
Celebrated sports comebacks demonstrate the power of staying focused, never giving up and working as a team to beat the odds. These philosophies work just as well in business and school as they do in sports.
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