Great comebacks in Boston sports history

Patrice Bergeron (center) scored the game-winning goal in overtime to complete the Bruins’ improbable comeback in Game 7 of their playoff series vs, the Toronto Maple Leafs.(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Patrice Bergeron (center) scored the game-winning goal in overtime to complete the Bruins’ improbable comeback in Game 7 of their playoff series vs, the Toronto Maple Leafs.(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) –Getty Images

The Bruins rallied from a 4-1 deficit in the third period of Game 7 of their playoff series vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs and won, 5-4, in overtime.

The game was immediately called one of the great comebacks in Boston sports history, and it joins a number of thrilling Boston sports comebacks through the years.

Here’s a look at some of them:

1986: Dave Henderson’s go-ahead home run, Game 5, ALCS: In one of the most memorable postseason moments in Red Sox history, Henderson, an outfielder who came over from the Seattle Mariners late in the season, hit a two-out, two-strike, two-run home run in the ninth inning off Angels reliever Donnie Moore to give the Red Sox a 6-5 lead . The Angels led the series, 3 games to 1, and entered the ninth inning with a 5-2 lead. The Angels composed themselves and tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, but Henderson drove in the go-ahead run with a sacrifice fly in the 11th, and the Sox went on to win the series in seven games.


2002: Patriots defeat Raiders in Snow Bowl: The “Tuck Rule’’ game between the Patriots and Raiders on Jan. 19, 2002, is considered one of the greatest games in Patriots history. Also known as the “Snow Bowl,’’ the AFC Divisional playoff victory was a defining moment as the Patriots marched toward their first Super Bowl victory. A controversial call based on an obscure rule known as the tuck rule allowed the Patriots to keep possession of the ball after an apparent fumble by quarterback Tom Brady. Adam Vinatieri tied the score with a 45-yard field goal with 27 seconds left, then hit another one to win the game in overtime. The Patriots trailed 13-3 at one point, but won, 16-13

2003: Sox rally from 0-2 deficit to defeat the A’s: Down 0-2 in the 2003 ALDS, the Grady Little-led Red Sox rallied with two wins at Fenway Park, then won a dramatic Game 5 at in Oakland on the strength of a three-run home run by Manny Ramirez and a memorable closing performance by Derek Lowe, who struck out Terrence Long looking.

2004: Red Sox stun Yankees in ALCS: The Red Sox rallied to become the first team in baseball history to win a best-of-7 series after trailing 3-0 when they overcame the rival Yankees in the ALCS. David Ortiz’s RBI single on the game’s 471st pitch with two outs in the 14th inning capped a second straight amazing comeback in less than 24 hours, giving Boston a 5-4 victory in Game 5 at Fenway.


2009: BU 4, Miami 3: Although Boston University’s hockey team was favored to win the 2009 NCAA championship game, things looked grim with a minute to play. The Terriers trailed Miami University of Ohio by two goals. But BU miraculously rallied to score twice in the final minute to send the game into overtime, where they scored again to win.

1984: BC 47, Miami 45: In one of the most famous plays in college football history, Doug Flutie threw a last-second 48-yard “Hail Mary’’ touchdown pass to receiver Gerard Phelan in the end zone, giving the Eagles an improbable victory over the mighty Hurricanes at the Orange Bowl Nov. 23, 1984. Flutie, who won the Heisman Trophy that season, scrambled to his right, narrowly averting a sack, then launched the football from his own 37-yard line, requiring the 5-foot-9-inch QB to throw the ball at least 63 yards.

1993: BC 41, Notre Dame 39: The Eagles knocked off the heavily favored and top-ranked Irish Nov. 20, 1993 when kicker David Gordon booted a 41-yard field goal on the game’s final play, crushing host Notre Dame’s hopes for a national title. “I don’t think you can get any lower than we are now,’’ Notre Dame defensive lineman Jim Flanigan said after the defeat.

1993: UMass 91, North Carolina 86: A relatively unknown University of Massachusetts basketball team used quickness and hustle to surprise top-ranked North Carolina in a semifinal game of the preseason NIT. “There isn’t much doubt about it: this is the greatest moment in the history of UMass basketball, and it came in an improbable performance,’’ wrote the Globe’s Bob Ryan. “The Minutemen trailed, 11-0, and were very, very close to being overwhelmed and discouraged. But coach John Calipari wouldn’t let his team quit.’’ UMass also trailed 73-66 with 4:53 left, but rallied with a 7-1 run.


1980: USA 4, USSR 3: Known forever as the “Miracle on Ice,’’ a United States hockey team made up of amateur and collegiate players, including Jim Craig, Mike Eruzione, Jack O’Callahan, and Dave Silk of Boston University – defeated the Soviet Union in the medal round of the 1980 Winter Olympics. Led by coach Herb Brooks, the US stunned a Soviet team widely regarded as the best international hockey team in the world. “It’s the most transcending moment in the history of our sport in this country,’’ said Dave Ogrean, former executive director of USA Hockey. The US trailed three times – 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 – before tying the game and winning on Eruzione’s goal in the third period.

2008: Celtics rally against Lakers for 24-point comeback win: In Game 4 of their 2009 playoff series against the LA Lakers, the Celtics rallied from a 24-point deficit to beat the Lakers 97-91 and took a 3-1 lead of the series.

Paul Pierce was the top scorer, recording 20 points, while Kevin Garnet had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Ray Allen had 19 points. The comeback included a 21-3 run over the final five minutes.

1999: USA 14 1/2, Europe 13 1/2: In the 33d Ryder Cup Matches held at The Country Club in Brookline, the Europeans, leading 10-6 heading into the final round, needed only four points on the final day to retain the Cup. But the Americans rallied Sunday, winning the first seven matches of the day. Jim Furyk upset Sergio Garcia to give the Americans their eighth point of the day. It was the largest come-from-behind victory in Ryder Cup history.

2007: Patriots defeat Chargers to advance to AFC Championship: Tied 21-21 with three and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter, former Charger Reche Caldwell had a 49-yard reception that set up rookie kicker Stephen Gostkowski’s 31-yard field goal to put the Patriots up 24-21. Chargers kicker Nate Kaeding then missed a potential score-tying field goal that sealed the win for the Patriots and pushed the Chargers, who led 14-3 at one point, out of the playoffs.

2002: Celtics come back from 21-point deficit to beat Nets: In Game 3 of their 2002 playoff series against the New Jersey Nets, the Celtics were down 21 points. Then Paul Pierce scored 19 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter and helped lead the Celtics to a 94-90 win over the Nets. “At the start of the fourth quarter, we just wanted to fight and make a statement for the next game that we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with. I think we did more than make a statement,’’ Pierce said.

2007: Red Sox “Mother’s Day Miracle’’: In the bottom of the ninth on Mother’s Day 2007, the Red Sox were down 5-0 to the Baltimore Orioles. With one out already recorded for the Sox, Coco Crisp stepped up to bat and reached when Orioles catcher Ramon Hernandez failed to catch his pop-up.

David Ortiz then hit a double to deep center and scored Crisp for the Red Sox’ first run of the day. Wily Mo Pena singled to left, bringing Ortiz to third before Orioles closer Chris Ray walked both J.D. Drew and Kevin Youkilis consecutively, allowing Ortiz to walk in a run, making the score 5-2.

Jason Varitek batted next, smacking the second pitch to right field, scoring Pena and Drew and moving Youkilis to third. With the score 5-4 and first base open, Ray intentionally walked Eric Hinske to set up a possible double play, but Alex Cora hit into the Sox’ second out as Youkilis was out at home on a fielder’s choice.

Julio Lugo grounded what could’ve been a game-ender to former Sox player Kevin Millar, but Ray was unable to catch Millar’s toss, allowing Jason Varitek and Eric Hinske to score, giving the Red sox a 6-5 win.

1994: Patriots battle back from 20-3 deficit to Vikings: On Nov. 13, 1994, the Patriots were down 20-3 against the Vikings at halftime. Quarterback Drew Bledsoe led his team to a 26-20 win, scoring 17 unanswered points in the third to tie the game and then 6 in overtime to win. Bledsoe set single game records in both pass completions (45), and attempts (70).

2008: Red Sox come back from being down 7-0 in ALCS: The seventh inning of Game 5 of the 2008 ALCS series found the Red Sox down 7-0 to Tampa Bay until Dustin Pedroia hit a two-strike, two-out single and drove in Jed Lowrie with Boston’s first run of the game. The Sox continued to stay alive as David Ortiz went on to hit a three-run home run, Jonathan Papelbon threw a 1-2-3 eighth inning, J.D. Drew connected on a two-run homer, and Coco Crisp stroked a two-out single that scored Mark Kotsay with the tying run, making the score 7-7 going into the ninth inning.

Drew followed with his second straight clutch hit, stroking a single to right field that scored Kevin Youkilis, who was on second, with the winning run. It was the biggest postseason comeback in 79 years.

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