Top 20 ‘Eras Of Frustration,’ Part Two

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Here is the second installation of our “Top 20: Eras of frustration” list, containing #10-1, as well as some honorable mentions.


Before I get to my top ten, here are five teams that get forgotten that deserve an honorable mention. We’ll call them the forgotten five, and I’ll list them as # 21 – # 25 in reverse order.

#25 – Indianapolis Colts  (1999-2005)

Courtesy Getty Images

In 1999, after finishing 13-3 in the regular season, they were quickly eliminated from the playoffs. They lost in the playoffs again in 2000. After a 6-10 record in 2001, they returned to the playoffs in 2002 and were destroyed by the NY Jets 41-0.

In 2003 they made it to the AFC title game, but lost to the New England Patriots, and the following year they lost to the Patriots in the playoffs yet again. They finished with a 14-2 record in 2005, but once again lost in the playoffs, this time to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They finally made it to the Superbowl the following year, winning their only Vince Lombardi trophy as the Indianapolis Colts.

#24– The Jacksonville Jaguars (1996-1999)

In 1996, only their second year in the league, the jags made it to the AFC title game, but lost to the Patriots. In 1997 & 1998 they lost in the playoffs again, yet in 1999 they finished the regular season at 14-2, and quickly made it 15-2 with a 62-7 playoff rout over the Dolphins.

They had high hopes of playing in the Superbowl, but those hopes were dashed in the AFC title game when they lost to the Titans 33-14.

#23 – The Miami Dolphins (1992-2001)

During this ten year span the Dolphins made it to the post season eight times. In 1992, they lost the AFC title game to the Buffalo Bills–and in 1993 they missed the playoffs completely. In 1994 & 1995 they lost in the playoffs, and in ’96 they finished a disappointing 8-8.

They fell in the playoffs once again in 1997, and were beaten badly in 1998, to the likes of a 38-3 defeat to the Broncos. 1999 was even worse, thanks to a 62-7 embarrassment to the Jaguars in the playoffs.

The next two years weren’t much better–a 27-0 loss to the Raiders and a 20-3 loss to the Ravens. If you combine the playoff losses from 1998-2001, the Dolphins were outscored by an incredible 147 points, to a mere 13.

#22 – Baltimore Ravens (2006-2011)

In 2006 they lost in the playoffs, and they missed it completely in 2007 after a terrible 5-11 season. However they bounced back the following season with a trip to the AFC title game, but they lost.

(Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images) Courtesy Bmore Chix

In 2009 & 2010 they lost in the playoffs, and inn 2011 they made another trip to the AFC title game, but lost once again.

After six years of frustration, the Ravens won the Superbowl in 2012. They also won the Superbowl in 2000.

#21–Pittsburgh Steelers (1992-1997)

In 1992 and ’93, the Steelers saw back-to-back loses in the playoffs. Rallying off of some built up momentum, the Steelers made it all the way to the AFC Championship in 1994, only to lose to the Chargers.

In 1995 they made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but lost to Emmit Smith and the Cowboys, 27-17.

In ’96 they lost to the Patriots in the playoffs, and in ’97 they lost in the AFC Championship again, yet this time to the Denver Broncos.

 

Now that we’ve gotten the honorable mentions out of the way, lets get back to our original list–starting at number 10.

 

#10 – The Cleveland Browns (1965-1972)

During this span of eight years, the Browns made the post season six times. This team featured hall of famers Leroy Kelly at RB, Paul Warfield at WR, and Gene Hickerson at guard. In 1965, Jim Browns final season, the Browns lost a hard fought game to the Packers in the NFL title game. After missing the post season in 1966, the Browns returned to post season play in 1967, but suffered a humiliating 52-14 loss to the Cowboys in the playoff game.

The following year they defeated the Cowboys in the playoffs, but then suffered another humiliating loss to the Colts in the NFL title game, by a score of 34-0.

In 1969, they again reached the NFL title game, only to lose big–again. After missing the post season in 1970, they made it back in ’71, but once again, they were on the wrong side of the game, losing to the Colts 20-3 in the playoff game.

Yet in 1972 they almost pulled off a major upset in the playoffs, leading the undefeated Miami Dolphins 14-13 late in the 4th quarter–but ended up on the short end once again, losing 20-14.

The Browns won four AAFC titles in a row (1946-1949) before joining the NFL. They won the NFL title in 1950, their first year in the league. They won it again in 1954, 1955 & 1964.

However, Browns fans haven’t had much to cheer about since, unless you want to count the success of the Baltimore Ravens, who were the original Cleveland Browns before moving to Baltimore.

#9 – The New York Giants (1939-1946)

Courtesy BST Auctions

During this 8 year stretch, the Giants reached the NFL title game four times–and lost every single one of them. This is not including a 1943 loss in the playoffs to the Redskins, which makes the actual tally five post season losses in 8 years.

Two of those losses came at the hands of the Green Bay Packers, including a 27-0 defeat in 1939– a year when they posted a very impressive 9-1-1 record in the regular season. Another two losses came from the Bears, including a 37-9 defeat in 1941, and the final playoff loss came from the Redskins, when they were shutout 28-0.

In spite of having three future hall of famers on offense, (center Mel Hein, and running backs Ken Strong and Tuffy Leemans) the Giants managed to score only 30 points in the five games combined.

The Giants won the NFL title in 1934,1938 & 1956. They have also won four Superbowls.

#8 – The Denver Broncos (1983-1991)

After not reaching the playoffs for three years in a row, the Broncos made it back in 1983, but were quickly eliminated by the Seattle Seahawks 31-7. In 1984 they posted their best regular season record in team history going 13-3, but again lost in the playoffs, this time to the Steelers. In 1985 they went 11-5 but failed to reach the playoffs.

In 1986 they made it to their second Superbowl, but lost to a stronger NY Giants team 39-20. They made it back to the Superbowl the following year, but were beaten badly by the Washington Redskins 42-10.

After a disappointing 8-8 record in 1988, they returned to the Superbowl in 1989, but suffered one of their most embarrassing defeats in team history–losing by a final score of 55-10. After a very poor season in 1990, they bounced back the following year and came very close to another shot at the Superbowl, but lost a very close game to the Buffalo Bills in the AFC title game.

Despite all their past failures in post season play, the Broncos went on to win the Superbowl three times.

#7 – The New England Patriots (2005-2013)

For all the success this team has had in the last 16 years, even they went through a period of not being able to win the big game.

In 2005 they lost in the playoffs, and in 2006 they lost the AFC title game to the Colts, 38-34.

Courtesy SI.com

In 2007 they had a chance to make NFL history by becoming only the second team to ever have a perfect season–they marched into the Superbowl with a perfect 18-0 record, one game better than the 1972 Miami Dolphins, who went 17-0. Their opponent would be the 13-6 New York Giants. In perhaps the biggest upset since the Jets beat the Colts in Superbowl III, the Giants defeated the heavily favored Patriots 17-14, to ruin their perfect season.

In 2008 the Patriots went 11-5 but missed the playoffs, and in 2009 they lost in the playoffs. In 2010 they went 14-2, but lost in the playoffs to the underdog NY Jets 28-21.

However, in 2011 they were back in the Superbowl, and their opponent would once again be the NY Giants. The Patriots went into the game with a 15-3 record, while the Giants went in at just 12-7. Once again the heavily favored Patriots were beaten by the Giants 21-17.

In 2012 they lost the AFC title game to the Baltimore Ravens, and in 2013 they lost the AFC title game to the Denver Broncos.

In spite of how frustrating those nine years must have been, they more than made up for it with five Vince Lombardi trophy’s.

#6– The Philadelphia Eagles (2000-2010)

During this 11 year span, the Eagles made it to the post season nine times, losing every time. In 2000 they lost to the Giants in the playoffs, and in 2001,2002 & 2003 they lost in the NFC title game.

In 2004 they had perhaps their best team ever. They reached the Superbowl with a 15-3 record, but lost a heart-breaker to the to the New England Patriots 24-21.

In 2006 they lost in the playoffs. In 2008, they lost their fourth NFC Title game to the Cardinals. In 2009 & 2010 they again lost in the playoffs yet again.

The Eagles have had a few glory years, winning the NFL title in 1948, 1949 & 1960–but Eagles fans have had little to celebrate since.

#5 – The New York Giants (1958-1963)

During this six year span, the Giants posted a very impressive 53-13 regular season record. They reached the NFL title game five times–yet lost each one. They lost two in a row to the Baltimore Colts and two in a row to the Green Bay Packers, including a 37-0 humiliation in 1961. In 1963 they lost to the Chicago Bears. This is all in spite of having five future hall of famers on the team– Andy Robustelli at DE, Sam Huff at MLB, Frank Gifford at RB, Roosevelt Brown at OT, and Y.A. Title at QB.

This is not to say the Giants did not have their victories too. They won the NFL title in 1934,1938 and 1956. The Giants also went on to see great success in later years, winning four Superbowls.

#4 – The Buffalo Bills (1988-1999)

The Bills reached the post-season 10 times in this 12 year span, losing every time, including four Superbowl losses in a row. In 1988 they lost in the AFC title game to the Bengals 21-10, and in 1989 they lost to the Browns in the playoffs.

Courtesy The Repository

In 1990 they posted their best regular season record in team history with a 13-3 record, and went on to defeat the Raiders in the AFC title game 51-3–and advanced to the Superbowl for the first time in team history. They lost a hard fought game to the NY Giants 20-19.

In 1991 they again went 13-3, and again lost in the Superbowl–this time to the Redskins, 37-24. In 1992 they made the greatest comeback in playoff history, defeating the Houston Oilers 41-38, after trailing 35-3. They made it to their 3rd Superbowl in a row, but were humiliated by the Cowboys 52-17. The following year they lost their fourth Superbowl in a row,Dallas 30 Buffalo 13.

After a disappointing 7-9 record in 1994, they bounced back to reach the playoffs in 1995 & 1996, but lost both times. They dropped to a 6-10 record in 1997, but came back again in 1998 & 1999 to reach the playoffs, again losing both times.

The Bills won the AFL title in 1964 & 1965. They have not played in a post season game in the last 17 years.

# 3 – The Minnesota Vikings (1968-1978)

Few fans have suffered as much as Vikings fans. This is a team that had six future hall of fame players on it– On defense they had Alan Page, Carl Eller and Paul Krause– and on offense they had Fran Tarkenton, Ron Yary and Mick Tinglehoff. Yet during this 11 year span, the Vikings reached the post season 10 times, and lost every time.

In 1968 they lost their playoff game to the Colts, but they bounced back the following year with perhaps their best team ever. They finished the regular season with a 12-2 record, and they outscored their opponents 379-133, and scored over 50 points three times. After defeating the Rams in the playoff game and the Browns in the NFL title game, they rode into the Superbowl with a 14-2 record. They were heavy favorites to defeat the AFL Champion Kansas City Chiefs, but they lost 23-7.

(Photo by Focus On Sports via Getty Images) Courtesy CNN.com

They went 12-2 again the following season, but lost to the underdog San Francisco 49ers in the playoff game. The following season they lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the playoffs. After an off year in 1972, they were back in the Superbowl in 1973 with a 14-2 record, but lost to the Miami Dolphins, 24-7. In 1974, they were back in the Superbowl again, but lost again, this time to the Pittsburgh Steelers, 16-6.
In 1975 they had another outstanding season. Some thought they might go undefeated after a 10-0 start, but they lost 3 of their next 5 games, including a stunning 17-14 loss to the Cowboys in the playoff game.

In 1976 they again made it to the Superbowl with a 13-2-1 record, but lost yet again. A 32-14 drubbing by the Oakland Raiders.

In 1977 they made it to the NFC title game, but lost to the Cowboys 23-6. In 1978 they lost to the Rams in the playoff game, completing 11 years of frustration.

#2 – The Los Angeles Rams (1973-1980)

Eight years in a row of making it to the post season, only to lose every time. To make it worse, it was to the same two teams 7 out of the 8 times–losing to the Vikings three times, and to the Cowboys four times.

In 1973, after posting a 12-2 regular season record, they lost to the Cowboys in the playoffs. In 1974 they lost to the Vikings in the NFC title game, and in 1975 they once again made it to the NFC title game boasting a 13-2 record. They were heavily favored to win, but instead were humiliated by the underdog Cowboys 37-7.

In 1976 they were again defeated by the Vikings, for their third NFC title loss in a row. In 1977 they lost to the Vikings in the playoffs, and in 1978 they were once again playing in the NFC title game, their fourth trip in five years. But once again they were humiliated by the Cowboys 28-0. The following year they finally made it to the Superbowl, but lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19. In 1980, they were once again defeated by the Cowboys in the wild card playoff game.

The Rams did win the NFL title in 1945 as the Cleveland Rams. They won it again in 1951 as the Los Angeles Rams, and after many years of frustration, the Rams finally won the Vince Lombardi trophy in 1999, but as the St. Louis Rams.

#1 – The Oakland Raiders (1967-1975)

Courtesy Getty Images

This team had nine future hall of fame players. In spite of this, and in spite of having the best combined regular season record in the NFL during this 9 year period, their post season record was just 7 wins and 8 losses.

In 1967 they went 13-1 in the regular season, and then beat the Houston Oilers 40-7 to win the AFL title. But they were no match for the NFL champion Green Bay Packers in the Superbowl, losing 33-14.

In 1968 they went 12-2 in the regular season, and then beat up on the Kansas City Chiefs 41-6 in the playoffs–only to lose to the Jets in the AFL title game. In 1969 they went 12-1-1, and then beat up on the Oilers in the playoffs, winning 56-7. But with the AFL title on the line, they lost again, this time to the Chiefs, 17-7.

In 1970 they once again reached the AFC title game, and lost again, this time to the Baltimore Colts. In 1971 they failed to reach the playoffs with a 8-4-2 record. In 1972 they went 10-3-1 but lost to the Steelers in the playoffs.

In 1973 they got revenge by beating the Steelers in the playoffs, but were no match for the Dolphins in the AFC title game, losing 27-10.

In 1974 they went 12-2 and then beat the defending Superbowl champion Miami Dolphins in the playoffs. With Miami out of the way, Raiders fans were sure they would finally get back to the Superbowl. But in the AFC title game, they lost once again–Steelers 24, Raiders 13.

In 1975 they made it back to the AFC title game again, and again lost to the Steelers. It was their 3rd time losing to the Steelers in four years, and their 2nd time losing the AFC title game three years in a row. Raider fans began to lose hope.

But in 1976 the Raiders beat the Steelers in the AFC title game, and finally won their first Super Bowl. They would go on to win two more Super Bowls.

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About Mark C. Morthier

I grew up in Northern NJ as a fan of local sports teams–the Yankees, Knicks, and Rangers. But it was different in football: I was a Dallas Cowboys fan. In sports, I played high school football, competed in Olympic-style weightlifting (1981-1989), and I’m engaged currently in powerlifting (2011- forward). I’ve participated in nearly 60 weightlifting/powerlifting competitions and currently hold several New York State & New Jersey State records in the 50-54 (Masters Division) age group. I’ve also served as a weightlifting/powerlifting coach. In addition to competing I’ve always enjoyed writing, even though I don’t have special training in either journalism or sports writing. Writing is an avocation for me, an adjunct to my day job. For years I worked as a forklift operator. Now I’m a school bus driver in Upstate New York, I’m really honored to be a contributor at The Sports Column. My favorite topics are football, weightlifting, and 1970’s NFL.



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Comments (2)

    Samuel H. Johnson wrote (09/26/17 - 4:10:14PM)

    Mark, I went back to read this article today. Your research is amazing! Well done!

    MARK C MORTHIER wrote (09/26/17 - 9:20:23PM)

    Thanks Samuel. It was quite an undertaking. I’m glad you enjoyed it.