On Saturday night, Peyton Manning and the mighty Denver Broncos lost to Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens, and pretty much immediately people were calling it one the biggest chokes in NFL playoff history. But was it?
Sure, the Broncos were the #1 seed in the AFC. Yes they were led by one of the greatest QBs of all time, yes they had home field advantage, and yes they had won 11 games in a row. But the Ravens’ 10-6 record was a little misleading. This is basically the same team that played in the AFC Championship Game last year—and took the Patriots to overtime in that game. So it’s not like this was the 2010 Seahawks or anything.
Thus, while I’m not saying the Broncos didn’t choke—Manning’s OT interception was brutal—I’m not quite ready to make the call on where this one stands among all the others in the history of the NFL. So I thought, today, I’d leave it up to you. Take a look at this list of the other major choke jobs in NFL playoff history, then weigh in. Do the 2012 Broncos belong on the list? And if so, where?
Before we get started, however, let me just preface the list by saying a “choke” comes in many forms. It can be a single player blowing a single, crucial play; it can be a series of crucial errors made by more than one player; or it can be an entire team losing a game everyone on earth thought they should have won. So we’re not really talking about players who simply had bad games, or run-of-the-mill bad plays. Those are way too common. We’re talking about the extraordinary bad games and the extraordinary bad plays.
Got it? Great. Let’s get started.