The Texas A&M Aggies made history Sunday night by completing the largest comeback with less than a minute to play in the history of college basketball.
Northern Iowa took a 69-57 lead with 44 seconds to go and an A&M missed 3-pointer kept it a 12-point margin with 34 seconds left before the Aggies put in the offensive rebound to start the miracle finish.
The great comeback A&M overtook to become No. 1 all-time was the 2005 Regional Final between Illinois and Arizona. The Wildcats were up by eight points with little more than a minute to play and then watched the Illini rally with current Dallas Mavericks point guard Deron Williams draining the game-tying 3-pointer. Illinois went on to win overtime and advanced to the Final Four, eventually losing in the championship game to North Carolina.
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It got us to thinking about other great sports comebacks that occurred as time quickly drained through the hourglass. These types of feats are so difficult to pull off that there really aren’t many that fall into the “miracle” category of the Aggies’ 92-88 victory over Northern Iowa. A&M trailed by 12 points with 44 seconds to go and then reeled off 14 points to send the game into overtime before finally prevailing in double-overtime.
Perhaps, the NBA provides the closest equivalent to A&M’s rapid-fire comeback, and it really isn’t even that close. Reggie Miller’s eight points in nine seconds gave the Indiana Pacers a victory over the New York Knicks in Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference semifinals. The Pacers trailed by six points with 18.9 seconds when Miller made two 3-pointers in a span of 3.1 seconds. The second came after he stole the inbounds pass, took it behind the arc and drained it to tie it at 105. After Knicks guard John Starks missed two free throws, Miller hit two to win it.
In the 2001 Final Four, Duke trailed Maryland by 22 points in the first half in the first half and rallied to win, 95-84.
During a regular-season game in 1994, Rick Pitino’s Kentucky Wildcats rallied from a 66-32 deficit with 15 minutes, 30 seconds left in the game. Kentucky beat LSU, 99-95.
In the NFL, all great comebacks start with the 1992 AFC wild card game between the Buffalo Bills and Houston Oilers. The Oilers went up by 28 points at halftime and made it 35-3 early in the third quarter. Playing without quarterback Jim Kelly, backup Frank Reich led the comeback of a lifetime as the Bills scored 28 straight points in the third quarter and won in overtime.
In the 2014 playoffs, the Indianapolis Colts erased a 38-10 deficit in the second half to beat the Kansas City Chiefs, making it the second-biggest comeback in NFL playoff history behind the Bills.
Major League Baseball saw the Cleveland Indians trailing by 12 runs after six innings against the 116-win Seattle Mariners in 2001 only to score 12 runs in the final three innings, and then tack on the winning run in the bottom of the 11th for a 15-14 victory.
In college football, SMU surely remembers the 1980 Holiday Bowl when Jim McMahon and BYU scored 21 points in the final three minutes to win, 46-45.
All these great comebacks reminded us of perhaps the greatest one in any sport at any level that officially doesn’t go down as a comeback because the team that mounted the most improbable rally couldn’t hold it.
It happened at old Texas Stadium on Nov. 26, 1994, when Plano East and Tyler John Tyler locked horns in the third round of the Texas state football playoffs. Plano East was cooked. It trailed 41-17 with a little more than three minutes left in the game. It would take a miracle for Plano East to pull this one off.
A miracle is what happened: Three consecutive onside kicks were recovered as Plano East took the lead 44-41 with 24 seconds left. Then “the most improbable comeback you’ve ever seen” collapsed. John Tyler returned the kickoff 97 yards to win 48-44.
If you’ve never watched the final minutes of this one, it’s a must. If you have, it’s a must to watch it again.