The Red Sox start every baseball season ordained into the playoffs, with most pundits all but conceding the wild card to Boston. But a funny thing happened this year ... the Red Sox battled to the very last day for that wild-card spot even though the team held a seemingly commanding lead just a month ago... and then they were eliminated in excrutiating fashion.
Another cruel irony is that the Red Sox were supposed to be an Eagles-like "Dream Team" and some Boston fans were openly wondering if this team could win 150 games after acquiring Carl Crawford and Adrian Gonzalez.
So in honor of the Red Sox -- and the Braves, who also collapsed and blew a big wild-card lead in the final game -- here is a look at the six biggest playoff tanks in NFL history.
And without further ado ...
6. 2009 Broncos
Remember when Josh McDaniels was a genius when his team started 6-0, which included a win over his mentor Bill Belichick? That vanished when the Broncos went 2-8 down the stretch. Denver had a chance to still make the playoffs but lost 44-24 at home to the Chiefs in Week 17 to end all hope. And then that Tim Tebow thing happened, and you know the rest.
5. 2008 Jets and Bucs
The Jets started 8-3, but finished 9-7 thanks to an undisclosed injury to Brett Favre. The big loss was to the woeful Seahawks in Week 16. The Bucs started 9-3, lost three, yet still had a chance to make the postseason by beating the 4-11 Raiders. The Bucs had a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter, but gave up 17 points including a 67-yard touchdown run by Michael Bush to end the playoff chances.
4. 1993 Dolphins
Dolphins coach Don Shula became the winningest coach in NFL history in 1993, and the team looked great at 9-2, despite losing Dan Marino for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon. But the Dolphins lost their last five games to miss the playoffs. Miami still had a chance even losing to New England in Week 17, but Denver blew a 17-point lead to the LA Raiders that eliminated the Dolphins.
3. 1995 Raiders
The Raiders -- in their first season back in Oakland -- jumped out to an 8-2 record, but lost their last six games to miss the playoffs. The big blow came in Week 12, when the Raiders played host to the eventual champion Cowboys. In what was supposed to be a statement game, the Raiders fell behind 31-7, eventually losing 34-21 and never doing much for the rest of the season.
2. 2003 Vikings
The Vikings started 6-0, but went 3-7 down the stretch. The Vikings still had a chance to reach the playoffs, and all they had to do was beat the lowly Cardinals. But Nate Poole caught a desperation pass on fourth-and-long to give the Cardinals a 18-17 win. But don't let me tell you, take it away Paul Allen.