A look back at Georgia sports teams who nearly won it all but lost.
With Sunday’s Super Bowl fresh on everyone’s mind there is one thing that sports fans in Georgia have not quickly forgotten. Defeat. Being a sports fan in Georgia is tough. Georgia’s teams quickly rise to the top in an explosive, exciting fashion only to be let down even harder. Georgia’s prominent sports teams have had a continuous trend of putting its fans through strenuous heartbreak. The teams here have come close to the ultimate glory, but fell in defeat in ways that can only be described as devastating.
The Georgia Bulldogs have most recently tasted the curse. One week after a thrilling win in double overtime against Oklahoma at the Rose Bowl, which now serves as the College Football Playoff National Semifinal, the Dawgs were set to play the University of Alabama in the CFP National Championship on Jan. 8, 2018.
The Bulldogs led 13-0 at halftime and were up 20-7 with 6:52 left in the third quarter before Alabama rallied their comeback. Alabama starting quarterback Jalen Hurts was benched at halftime and replaced by freshmen quarterback Tua Tagovailoa who, planning to transfer, had not seen much playing time in his college career.
Alabama’s defense held Georgia to just seven points in the second half. Tagovailoa took advantage leading the Crimson Tide to a 20-point second half and taking the game into overtime. This was the first overtime game in CFP National Championship history, and it seemed to be in the bag for Georgia after sacking Tagovailoa for a big loss knocking them out of field goal range which they would have needed to stay in the game. On the following play Tagovailo threw a 41-yard touchdown bomb to Devonta Smith to win the game. Georgia fans were devastated. This would have been their first national championship since 1980.
The previous victims of the curse were the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. The score 28-3, now a running gag in the NFL, the phrase alone strikes a bad nerve for any Falcons fan. Atlanta was up by 25-points with just over two minutes to go in the third quarter of Super Bowl LI just one year ago.
Despite this lead, fans knew not to count out New England Patriots quarterback, Tom Brady. The Patriot’s defense held Atlanta to only seven points in the second half, with Brady and the Patriot’s offense rallying a 25-point comeback sending the game into overtime, the first overtime game in Super Bowl history. New England possessed the ball first and scored a touchdown, ending the game before Atlanta had a chance to possess the ball in overtime. The pain still lingers. The Falcons had a chance to appear in Super Bowl XLVII in 2013, but they blew a 17-point first half lead in the NFC Championship game to the San Francisco 49ers. Also losing to the Denver Broncos in 1998, Atlanta is now 0-2 in the Super Bowl.
Although brutal these are not the only high stakes losses in Georgia’s repertoire. Below is a list of other Georgia based teams who have tasted the curse first hand.
- Atlanta Braves- The Braves went to five world series in the 1990’s only to win one. This is Atlanta’s only world championship on a professional level.
- Atlanta Hawks- Coming off of one of the hottest season in Hawk’s history Atlanta was swept by Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2016 Eastern Conference Finals. Since 2009 Atlanta is 0-12 against James’ Cavs in the postseason.
- Atlanta Dream- ATL based WNBA team went to the WNBA Finals three times in four years. The Dream failed to win a single game in these best of five series played in 2010, 2011 and 2013.
The feeling is all too familiar for Georgia’s teams and its fans. The curse has been with the state for decades, and with each loss it seems to be getting more painful and more difficult to forget. Fans are always comforted with a phrase that most are sick of hearing, “There’s always next season.”