Decade Debate: 10 Biggest Upsets

The term upset is simply defined as “an unexpected defeat,” but in sports it can mean so much more. For the favorite, it’s about the pressure that comes with heightened expectations. For the underdog, it’s about using those expectations as motivation. As part of our ongoing Decade Debate series, here is a list of the ten biggest upsets of the last ten years. Remember, the magnitude of the stage is just as important as the perceived disparity between the two parties involved, so extra points are given to upsets that occurred in the postseason or in a title game.

10. Federer beats Sampras at the 2001 Wimbledon

By 2001, the sports world had begun to question Pete Sampras’ ability as a dominant tennis player. The man was just 29 years old and the owner of 13 Grand Slam titles, but critics predicted an oncoming collapse. Since winning the Australian Open in 1997, Pistol Pete’s Grand Slam championships curiously only came at Wimbledon. In fact, Sampras had captured all but one Wimbledon championship since his first appearance in 1993. Naturally, if he was a sure bet anywhere, it was at the All England Club. While most will remember this time period as the declining stage of Sampras’ career, it also marked the beginning of Roger Federer’s success as a professional. After winning the Wimbledon juniors in 1998, Federer was often viewed as the likely heir to Sampras’ throne. Still, nobody expected the 19 year-old and the Grand Slam record holder to clash at Wimbledon in 2001. Furthermore, if they did happen to meet, Federer wasn’t supposed to win. Making his Centre Court debut, Federer defeated Sampras 7-6 (7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (2), 7-5, thereby snapping Sampras’ 31-match winning streak at Wimbledon. Sure, it was only a fourth round match, but it symbolized so much more. This is one of the greatest upsets of the decade not simply because Sampras was favored, but because of everything that followed. Sampras would retire in two years and Federer would eventually live up to those wild expectations. And forget about Sampras getting any revenge – the two would never again face each other on the professional level. – Christopher Glotfelty

9. Edmonton upsets Detroit in 2006 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Detroit was a heavy favorite in the quarterfinals, as the top-seeded Red Wings were coming off a terrific 124-point regular season in which they captured the President’s Trophy. Meanwhile, the Oilers squeaked into the playoffs as an #8-seed after a 95-point regular season. The Red Wings won Game 1 in Detroit, but dropped Game 2. The two teams also split the next two games in Edmonton. The Oilers then closed out the series winning Game 5 in Detroit and Game 6 at home, both by one-goal margins. The series featured two double-overtime games (Game 1 & Game 6) and all six games were decided by two goals or less. – John Paulsen

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Top 10 Super Bowl Finishes

The Love of Sports compiled a list of the top 10 Super Bowl finishes of all-time.

Super Bowl XLII2. Super Bowl XLII: New York Pulls Off Giant Upset (2007)
Maybe it was due to the historical implications, with New England looking to go down as the greatest team in NFL history, but the ending was epic and had fans on the edge of their seats (and couches) with history unfolding in front of their eyes. The Giants were a resilient bunch late in the game to pull off the upset and secure its place as the second most exciting finish. Eli Manning, of course, drove his team downfield with 35 seconds left after Randy Moss helped the undefeated Patriots take a 14-10 lead. Similar to the Patriots-Panthers game in ’03, there wasn’t much scoring early, as both teams could only muster points on their first possessions of the game. The AFC representatives only led 7-3 at the half on the strength of a Laurence Maroney score, but it was the quest for an undefeated season that kept things intriguing – until late in the fourth quarter when both teams marched up and down the field Down 10-7 after David Tyree put New York on top, Tom Brady engineered an 80-yard touchdown drive, after the Giants defensive line shut him down during the first three and a half quarters. Moss’ six-yard TD catch crushed the hearts of those anti-Patriots supporters, seemingly sealing the deal. The Patriots looked destined for perfection, but the student (Eli) beat the master (Brady). Eli, taking a page out of Peyton’s book, calmly marched his offense down the field in the final two minutes. He eluded three Patriot defenders to set up Tyree’s unbelievable one-handed-to-helmet catch before Plaxico Burress’ game-winning score. 21 points were tallied in the final frame to make it a great finish, with the Giants winning 17-14 in arguably the second greatest upset in Super Bowl history.

1. Super Bowl XXXVIII: Vinatieri’s Second Act (2003)
A game that was so dull in the first quarter and a half, with neither team scoring until late second quarter amidst a tight defensive battle, turned out to be the best finishes ever. A 14-10 halftime score was met by another scoreless quarter in the third before the fun really began. After an Antowain Smith two-yard TD run to open the fourth, the Panthers’ offense can alive on its next two possessions. The latter of which resulted in a thrilling 85-yard catch and run by Muhsin Muhammad into the end-zone to give Carolina its first lead, 22-21, with a little under seven minutes left. This was just the start of something special under the domed Reliant Stadium in Houston! Mike Vrabel was the recipient of his first of two career Super Bowl touchdowns to put the Patriots back on top, ahead 29-22 with 2:51 remaining. Just over a minute left in the game, Delhomme marched the Panthers downfield and hit Ricky Proehl to tie it up (his second game-tying TD against New England). At this point, the game was almost destined for overtime. But then, Carolina kicker John Kasay makes the mistake of his life, booting it out of bounds with 14 seconds left to give Tom Brady prime field position – and we all know what he can do in the two-minute drill. He put the Pats in field-goal range and Adam Vinatieri did his thing with another game-winning kick with no time on the clock. New England won its second title in three years with a 32-29 victory to cap off the greatest ending to any Super Bowl.

Considering the amount of points scored in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl XXXVIII, I could see why the boys at TLOS would choose that finish as the best. But last year’s ending with Eli avoiding the sack, Tyree’s catch and Burress’s game-winning score was my top finish. Given the magnitude of the Patriots’ undefeated season being on the line, that was one of the best Super Bowls ever played and that finish got your heart racing. Either way – this is a great list.

2008 Year-End Sports Review: What We Learned

At the end of the year, it’s always interesting to look back at all that has happened in the world of sports over the last 12 months. 2008 brought us a host of compelling sports stories, including the culmination of the Patriots’ (unsuccessful) quest for perfection, a Bejing Olympics that featured incredible accomplishments by the likes of Michael Phelps, Usain Bolt and the Redeem Team, and, of course, Brett Favre’s unretirement, which managed to hold the sports news cycle hostage for a solid month or more.

As is our tradition, we’ve once again broken our Year End Sports Review into three sections. The first is “What We Learned,” a list that’s packed with a number of impressive feats. And when there are feats, inevitably there are also failures.

Don’t miss the other two parts: “What We Already Knew” and “What We Think Might Happen.”

The New England Patriots weren’t so perfect after all.

After rolling through the 2007 regular season unscathed, the Patriots entered the 2008 Super Bowl as overwhelming favorites to roll over the pesky, but seemingly inferior New York Giants. The Pats were just one win away from staking their claim as the best football team in NFL history. But thanks to a dominating Giants’ defensive line, an improbable catch by David Tyree, and a virtually mistake-free performance by Eli Manning, the unbeatable New England Patriots were beat. It’ll go down as one of the biggest upsets in Super Bowl history, and considering Tom Brady’s season-ending injury in 2008 cost the Pats a chance for redemption, it seems that many have forgotten how New England stood just one win away from perfection. – Anthony Stalter

Michael Phelps is part fish.

Eight gold medals in one Olympiad? No problem. Michael Phelps made the seemingly impossible look (relatively) easy en route to one of the most – if not the most – impressive Olympic performances ever. Phelps had to swim all four strokes, compete in both sprint and endurance races, and deal with the constant media attention and pressure that came along with his quest. Sure, NBC turned up the hype, but what Phelps accomplished is simply incredible. – John Paulsen

Usain Bolt is part cheetah.

First, Usain Bolt made Jamaica proud by setting a new world record (9.69) in the 100-meter sprint. Then, he broke the 12 year-old 200-meter world record with a time of 19.30 seconds. He showboated during the first race but cleaned up his act to win the second race in a professional manner. Some even say that Usain Bolt – not Michael Phelps – was the biggest story to come out of the Bejing Olympics. – JP

The Big 12 has the best quarterbacks in the nation.

The Big 12 housed some of the best quarterbacks in all of college football in 2008. Texas’s Colt McCoy, Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford, Missouri’s Chase Daniel and Texas Tech’s Graham Harrell were all considered Heisman candidates at least at one point during the season, while McCoy and Bradford are still in the running. Amazingly, Bradford and McCoy aren’t done; both will return in 2008. And although they don’t receive as much attention as the top signal callers in the conference, Kansas’s Todd Reesing and Baylor’s Robert Griffin certainly turned heads this year as well. In fact, the highly versatile Griffin is only a freshman and could make the Bears a very dangerous team for years to come. – AS

Read the rest after the jump...

NFL Player Profile: Eli Manning

Eli ManningGrowing up in the shadow of a famous father can be overwhelming for a child, and the challenge of following the footsteps of an older sibling can also be harmful for a kid’s ego. Then, there is Eli Manning’s childhood; his father (Archie Manning) was a football hero in the Deep South and his brother (Peyton Manning) is the advertising face of the NFL with countless commercials. And all he does is become the MVP of Super Bowl XLII, in which he led the New York Giants to an upset victory over the previous undefeated New England Patriots.

While having a successful senior year as a high school football player, Manning was still undecided on which university to attend in the fall. That changed after receiving a call from David Cutcliffe. The Manning family was familiar with him, as Cutcliffe was offensive coordinator at the University of Tennessee, and helped older brother Peyton elevate his overall game. He was named Head Coach of the University of Mississippi football team, and was hoping Eli Manning would become his first prize recruit in rebuilding the Rebel program. Upon hearing Cutcliffe’s recruiting pitch; Manning followed his father’s footstep, and became starting QB at Ole Miss.

Manning’s collegiate career was a lot like his personality: quiet but successful. He set or tied 45 single-game, season, and career records at Ole Miss. In his senior year, Manning won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best all-around collegiate player, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, and finished in third-place for the 2003 Heisman Trophy Award behind eventual winner Jason White, quarterback of Oklahoma, and University of Pittsburgh wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Read the rest after the jump...

Related Posts