Disappointment was heavy for Boston’s professional sports teams in 2012. The Red Sox suffered their worst season 47 years. The Celtics and Bruins both experienced tough playoff defeats. And the Patriots’ bitter loss in Super Bowl XLVI to the Giants left the team hamstrung in the postseason yet again.
Take a look at the 10 worst losses for Boston’s teams in 2012:
The Patriots held the lead through most of the second half, until Eli Manning rallied the Giants for a stunning come-from-behind Super Bowl win for the second time in four years. Manning connected on a spectacular 38-yard sideline pass to Mario Manningham that keyed the Giants’ game-winning drive. Tom Brady and Wes Welker failed to connect on a crucial late-game pass that likely would have sealed a win for the Patriots, and Brady’s last-gasp Hail Mary toss into the end zone fell incomplete.
Bobby Valentine said “I think we’ve hit bottom” after the Red Sox bullpen collapsed in this loss to their archrivals. But the embarrassing defeat, one day after Fenway Park’s 100th anniversary celebration, was a harbinger of more disappointment to come later in the season. The Red Sox led 9-0 in the sixth inning, but then surrendered seven runs in both the seventh and eighth innings to cement one of the worst losses in recent memory.
The Celtics returned to Boston with a 3-2 series lead and a chance to punch a ticket to the NBA Finals at home. But LeBron James had other plans. James scored 45 points, 30 in the first half, as the Heat set an early tone that they would not be eliminated in Boston. Celtics fans did not give up on their team, however. They chanted “Let’s go Celtics” over the final three minutes of the blowout loss, keeping the team’s spirit up as it headed into what would be another loss in Game 7 two days later in Miami.
For the third time in five weeks the Patriots blew a second-half lead, with the team’s porous secondary the primary culprit in this embarrassing loss in the Pacific Northwest. Seahawks rookie quarterback Russell Wilson threw two touchdown passes in the game’s final 7:26 to rally the team from a 13-point deficit. Tom Brady threw two second-half interceptions, and the Patriots offense was again unable to put together a game-icing drive when it needed it. The loss dropped the Patriots to a 3-3 record.
After being blown out in Game 1 of the East finals, the Celtics came out firing with a fierce effort in Game 2 ... and still lost. The result was deflating, and the Celtics’ disappointment with the officiating (Boston was called for 33 fouls, Miami only 18) contributed to their plight. Rajon Rondo scored a career-best 44 points, but the Celtics had only their strong effort to be proud of as they took an 0-2 series deficit home to Boston. Still, the loss may have hardened the Celtics, as the team would win the next three games before capitulating in the final two contests of the series.
Midway through the fourth quarter in Baltimore, the Patriots were up nine points, had the ball, and looked like they were headed to another victory over the team they defeated in the AFC title game eight months earlier. But the Patriots offense couldn’t find critical first downs and their defense could not hold the lead as the Ravens kicked a walkoff field goal to win. New England surrendered scoring drives of 82, 92, 80, 92, and 70 yards. Devin McCourty committed a pass interference penalty on third down at the 9-yard line in the final minute that helped key the Ravens’ winning drive. The loss was the Patriots’ second in a row and dropped them under .500 for the first time in more than nine years.
The Bruins got an early sign that their defense of their Stanley Cup title wouldn’t be easy when the Capitals took them to overtime in Boston’s 1-0 win in Game 1. And the Capitals, specifically goaltender Braden Holtby, sent an even stronger message in Game 2, whey outlasted the Bruins in two overtimes for a 2-1 win that stole home-ice advantage away from the defending champions. Holtby made 43 saves in Game 2, and Bruins coach Claude Julien was angry that the Capitals were finding it too easy to push the Bruins around. “We’re letting them do that to us,” he said. It would be a sign of the difficulty the Bruins would have the entire series, which Washington would win in seven games.
Jon Lester’s awful season was summed up in one afternoon when he surrendered 11 runs (all earned), on nine hits and five walks with four home runs in four innings against the Blue Jays. Lester said it was “embarrassing,” and Bobby Valentine’s decision to allow an ineffective Lester to remain on the mound was said to be a flashpoint that prompted some Red Sox players to seek a meeting with team ownership the next week in New York. The loss finished off a Toronto sweep of the Red Sox, and it seemed to take a toll on Lester. “It’s hard for me to walk around this clubhouse and look guys in the eye right now,’’ Lester said.
The Daniel Bard-as-a-starter experiment came to an end after one of the pitcher’s worst-ever performances. Bard walked six and surrendered five earned runs in just 1 2/3 innings. He became the first pitcher since 1918 to walk six and hit two in two or fewer innings. “I’ve had bad ones before,’’ Bard said. “Nothing like that.’’ Bard was sent to Pawtucket after the game, with his career trajectory thrown off course by his addition to the rotation. Bard had devolved from one of the most effective eighth inning pitchers in baseball to a completely ineffective starter who had lost his confidence.
A Red Sox team that just four days earlier was two games above .500, riding a four-game win streak, and thinking about climbing into the playoff race was dealt a vicious blow by the Twins. Red Sox closer Alfredo Aceves narrowly missed a called third strike on Joe Mauer that would have ended the game. Given a second chance, Mauer drilled a pitch over the left field wall for a three-run home run that clinched the game. It left Aceves angry and the Red Sox reeling, back under .500 and en route to their worst finish since 1965.