D.C. Misery

The five most crushing elimination game losses by Washington D.C. sports teams in the last decade

October 13, 2017
the Washington Redskins play the Seattle Seahawks in the first round of the NFC playoffs
The Washington Post

Sports analysts, radio personalities, fans and the like tend to exaggerate when it comes to a city's futility as a whole. But upon reviewing the last decade of Washington D.C. sports teams in elimination games, you cannot exaggerate the futility enough. It has been soul-crushing, gut-wrenching and every other two-word hyphenated adjective you can think of.

Sure, some cities sports teams have never even sniffed their respective playoffs, let alone a championship, but no city in the last decade has lost in do-or-die situations quite like D.C.'s teams. Thursday night was the latest example to add to the lore, with the Washington Nationals taking on the Chicago Cubs at home in a decisive game five of the NLDS.

Through four innings, the Nats held a 4-3 lead, with ace Max Scherzer coming to the mound in relief in the top of the fifth. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. There were errors, passed balls, a hit by pitch and a few clutch hits by the Cubs, who took a 7-4 lead in the blink of an eye. The Nats were able to rally, but eventually lost 9-8, and found themselves on the wrong end of one of the more questionable replay reviews in recent memory.

It was one of the more crushing defeats for a team from our nation's capital, and they've provided plenty of those in the last 10 years. So many in fact, that we decided to rank the top worst five. Avert your eyes D.C. fans.

5. 2015 Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 6 - Atlanta Hawks defeat Washington Wizards 94-91

In the battle of "who gets to lose to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals," the Hawks and Wizards were neck and neck up until the final seconds of game six in Washington. The Wizards needed to hit a three to force OT, and then win in OT to force a game seven. Paul Pierce appeared to do just that with an absolutely wild three-pointer as time expired, sending the Capital One Arena into a frenzy. But after video review revealed the ball was still in Pierce's hands with zero seconds left, the officials called it off, effectively ending the game and the Wizards quest to get to the franchise's first Conference Finals since they were still known as the Bullets in 1979. Pure euphoria to utter misery all in a matter of minutes.

4. 2016 NFC Wild Card Game - Green Bay Packers defeat Washington Redskins 35-18

The Washington Post

After leading the largest comeback in franchise history and famously asking the media "YOU LIKE THAT!?", Kirk Cousins and the Washington Redskins finished the 2015 season on a 6-3 run, earning the franchise just its second NFC East title in 17 years. This meant the Skins would host a playoff game against Aaron Rodgers' Green Bay Packers, giving them an opportunity to win the team's first playoff game since 2005. Everything began according to plan, with the Redskins opening up an 11-0 lead. But then Aaron Rodgers happened, and the Packers scored 17 unanswered. Washington did retake the lead, however, only to promptly allow 18 more unanswered in a 35-18 rout. No Kirk Cousins, we do not like that.

3. 2015 Second Round, Game 7 - New York Rangers defeat Washington Capitals 2-1

One of the internet's latest and greatest running jokes is that every new NHL season is going to be the "Caps' year," but 2015 actually felt like it was heading in that direction. Washington finished off the New York Islanders in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in seven games, and then took a commanding 3-1 series lead over the New York Rangers. In game five the Capitals were on the verge of advancing to the franchise's first Conference Finals since 1998, leading 1-0 with under two minutes to play at Madison Square Garden. Instead, the Rangers became just the 28th team in NHL history to erase a 3-1 series deficit, coming back in game five and winning the final two games of the series, including an epic game seven battle in overtime. Alas, it was not the Caps year.

2. 2012 NLDS, Game 5 - St. Louis Cardinals defeat Washington Nationals 9-7

G Fiume

Just like in the 2017 NLDS, the Washington Nationals forced a decisive game five at home in 2012, this one against the St. Louis Cardinals. In an eerily similar game that was also started by Gio Gonzalez, the Nats jumped out to a 6-0 lead after four innings thanks to the bat of 19-year-old Bryce Harper, who tripled and homered in his first two plate appearances. The collapse that followed makes Thursday night's look like child's play. Yet, the Nationals still held a 7-5 lead in the top of the ninth with TWO OUTS and a man on third. Nationals reliever Drew Storen then had consecutive batters DOWN TO THEIR FINAL STRIKE and walked them both, loading the bases, which led to a four-run Cardinal rally capped off by Pete Kozma's go-ahead two-run single that gave St. Louis a 9-7 victory and literally ripped the entire city's heart out.

1. 2013 NFC Wild Card Game - Seattle Seahawks defeat Washington Redskins 24-14

The Washington Post

After lighting up the NFL and earning Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 2012, Robert Griffin III and the Redskins came out firing in the NFC Wild Card Game, taking a 14-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks despite the quarterback being at much less than 100% health. The Redskins continued to run him into the ground anyway, and Seattle stormed back with 24 points unanswered to win 24-14. But the most crushing moment came with the score at 21-14 late in the fourth quarter, when the 2011 Heisman winner's leg finally gave way:

The injury ended his season, and basically his career as franchise quarterback of the Redskins. He started just 20 more games in Washington over the next two seasons, going 5-15.


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