Aw, Who Needs Ya! Teams That Won Without Their Superstars
The Beatles were right about many things. For example, they expertly foretold that "All You Need is Love".
However, that one they didn't finish...All You Need is Love...on the bench.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were missing superstar forward Kevin Love, sidelined with a concussion in the previous matchup, during last night's NBA Finals tilt with the Golden State Warriors, and he wasn't missed in the slightest. In the third game of the set, Cleveland took home a 120-90, walloping the defending champs up and down the court. Despite the massive victory and the highlight reel efforts of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, JR Smith and Tristian Thompson, the top trending topic on Twitter was Love, who enjoyed the best seat in Quicken Loans Arena for the massacre. Needless to say, Twitter reacted accordingly...
Should the Cavs complete their comeback sans Love, they would hardly be the first team to accomplish the feat, as they need look no further than the amazing world of football to see that just because a superstar goes down, you needn't worry about your championship hopes...
Johnny Unitas, 1971
Unitas is often regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history, and he finally got a long-awaited Super Bowl ring after helping the Baltimore Colts win Super Bowl V. However, the chaos that was the 5th Super Bowl...later dubbed the "Blunder Bowl", which featured a mere 23 1st downs, 14 penalties, 11 turnovers, and an MVP from the losing team...unfortunately witnessed an injury to the great quarterback, as he suffered a rib injury shortly after he threw a touchdown pass, a 75 yard score to John Mackey. Backup Earl Morrall, a member of three of the first eight Super Bowl team, managed the rest of the game a 16-13 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
Phil Simms, 1990
Simms had led the Giants to Super Bowl glory during the 1986-87 season, a year capped off with a historically great performance in Super Bowl XXI, going 22-25 for 268 yards and 3 scores. Simms look destined to repeat the feat in 1990, leading the Giants to an 11-3 mark and leading the NFC in passer rating. However, an injury in the 14th game of the season denied Simms a chance a Super Bowl encore performance, hurting his foot in a match with the Buffalo Bills. Replaced by Jeff Hostetler, Simms watched his Giants earned their 2nd Super Bowl title, ironically defeating the Bills in the final hurdle, 20-19 in Super Bowl XXV.
Peyton Manning, 1998
Manning's time at the University of Tennessee recently resurfaced and....well, it wasn't pretty. Overshadowed in the allegations against Manning was his amazing playing Knoxville, where he rewrote the Volunteers' record book, the passing section anyway. However, despite his storied career, Manning had his own version of the Patriots in college, as he was 0-4 against the Vol's most hated rivals, the Florida Gators. Furthermore, when the Vols had a shot at the national title in Manning's final year in orange...well at least until the Denver Broncos came calling...he threw for a mere 131 yards in a 42-17 beating at the hands of Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. That was the last loss the Vols would have for quite awhile. With Tee Martin under center, the Vols not only beat Florida, but won the whole damn thing, defeating Florida State in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title.
Drew Bledsoe, 2001
Believe it not, there was a time when the Patriots (gasp!) weren't the world-beaters they are today. However, their top overall pick from the 1993 draft, Bledsoe, was key in helping the Patriots rise from the depths of NFL anonymity. Setting records across the New England passing pages, Bledsoe even guided the Pats to Super Bowl XXXI, back when the thought of the Patriots in the Super Bowl was pure shock. However, Bledsoe, perhaps overworked from carrying the Pats offense had begun to decline entering the new millennium, but that didn't stop the Pats from giving him a massive 10-year, $103 million extension. In his second game under that deal, he was injured and replaced by some unknown backup named Tom Brady. Bledsoe was relegated to the bench when this kid was actually kinda good, though he did keep the Pats' Super Bowl XXXVI trip alive when he subbed for an injured Brady in the Pats' AFC title game win in Pittsburgh.
Tiki Barber/Jeremy Shockey, 2007
Despite being the all-time leading rusher in the history of the New York Giants, Tiki Barber is booed constantly whenever he returns to MetLife Stadium. Barber played with the Giants current QB, Eli Manning for this first three years of his career. When Barber abruptly retired after the 2006 season, he had some harsh parting gifts for Eli, calling the young Manning's team speeches "comical", and questioned his leadership abilities. Left behind on the Giants roster was Jeremy Shockey, known for his trash talking and loud mouthed antics. Shockey, who had been critical of head coach Tom Coughlin all season, suffered a season ending injury in Week 16, and did not return for the Giants' playoff run. With neither of their critics around, Manning and Coughlin engineered the infamous victory over the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.
Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffMags5490
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