I was watching the NFL this Sunday, there was a game where the home team got possession of the ball with something like 26 seconds left in the game. They had the lead, so all they had to do was take a knee and run out the clock. However, the quarterback and a good portion of the offense were starting to line up, as if they were going to run a regular play, before the coach started furiously signaling for a time-out. Had the coach not called time-out and the offense run a play, they could have turned over the ball and lost the game.
In any major sport, what are some examples where the game was lost because of an utterly boneheaded move that could have been avoided?
One example that comes to mind is in football, where someone runs for a long touchdown and then starts showboating a few yards short of the goal line and then loses the ball. It’s happened before (I’d be surprised if it doesn’t happen two or more times per season), but I don’t know if it ever cost a game.
Of course Leon Lett deserves mention. That linked video conveniently provides both of his classic screw-ups in one convenient video.
The first is exactly the sort of showboating scenario described in the OP, although it didn’t cost his team the game. The second is just a pure, unadulterated boneheaded maneuver that did, in fact, cost the game. I remember watching it live. It’s pretty much at or near the top of my all-time sports highlights.
Actually, everything bad that ever happens to the Cowboys makes my list of all-time sports highlights, but still.
In 1999, Baylor went for a TD as time was expiring. They fumbled and UNLV returned the ball for the winning TD! The funny thing? Baylor was winning and could’ve just taken a knee. But they intentionally tried to pad their score.
More famously, a similar event happened in 1978. Rather than running out the clock, the QB fumbled a handoff and the opponent ran it back to win the game. Walk up behind a Giants fan and yell: Joe Pisarcik
Dwayne Rudd of the Cleveland Browns removed his helmet like an idiot.
…Rudd drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for throwing his helmet in celebration, setting up Morten Andersen’s 30-yard field goal with no time showing Sunday and giving the Kansas City Chiefs a stunning 40-39 win over the Cleveland Browns… http://espn.go.com/nfl/recap?gameId=220908005
Lindsey Jacobellis was in the lead and all but assured of gold for some winter Olympic event (that exists only to make sure that the US can win more medals) when she decided to make some showboat move, wiped out, and settled for silver.
In NCAA football, Indiana vs. Minnesota this weekend. The score was 42-39 Minnesota and Indiana had the ball on the Minnesota 9 with about 30 seconds left. It was 2nd and Goal, worst case you think at least Indiana kicks a chip-shot field goal after trying a couple of passes into the end zone and the game goes to overtime. But they called a little floaty pass play out to the sidelines that turned into a backwards pass… when the receiver failed to catch the lateral he then didn’t recognize the ball was still live. Minnesota did, recovering the fumble to seal the win.
So a bad play call to begin with (why even risk a lateral in that situation?), as well as a brain-fart on the part of the running back for not recognizing the ball was live.
I believe it was TJ Houshmandzadeh in his rookie year that made a great diving catch, got up and spun the ball on the turf in celebration. A defensive player immediately picked it up and ran the other way. Don’t remember if it cost the Bengals the game (or if I definitely got the right guy), but what a boneheaded play.
“Wrong Way” Roy Riegels in the 1929 Rose Bowl for California. Riegals picked up a fumble, got turned around and run 69 yards in the wrong direction. He realized his mistake on the 3 yard line, and was tackled on the 1. The team tried a punt that was blocked for a safety. Georgia Tech won the game 8-7.
In the 1957 Kentucky Derby, Willie Shoemaker was leading the field on Gallant Man in a tight battle with Iron Liege. He misjudged the finish line and stood up in the stirrups too soon. Shoemaker recovered quickly, but lost by a nose.
David Campese in rugby union Australia v British Lions. Australia had never won a series against them.
I’ll try to convert it into American football terms. David Campese recieved a kick in his endzone and rather than touching it down and getting a kick from the 25 yard line threw a terrible pass to a teammate that a British player touched down to score. Britain go on to win by 1 point.
Also I do remember a horse race with the horse well clear and the jockey giving the horse a kick in the guts causing the horse to stop and attempt to throw the jockey.
And also Devon Loch causing Dick Francis to write his horsey books.
The Saskatchewan Rough Riders were leading the Grey Cup 27-25 with 5 seconds left to play. Montreal missed a potential game-winning field goal, but the Riders were called for too many men on the field. The 10-yard penalty gave Montreal a second try, this time from only 33 yards, and the field goal was good for the win.