Biggest playoff flops

June, 14, 2011
6/14/11
10:32
AM ET
I'll leave it to the psychologists to analyze what it is that makes the Football Outsiders guys so obsessive about disappointment. Me, I'm getting a huge kick out of their series. Today's entry (an Insider piece, so just call me and I'll give you my password) is on the 10 most disappointing playoff teams -- a list of teams that had great regular seasons only to come up short in the postseason. And the NFC East is all over the list.

Caution: Painful memories ahead.

Coming in at No. 9 is the 1989 New York Giants, who went 12-4 in the regular season and lost to Flipper Anderson and the Rams in overtime in the divisional round of the playoffs:
"They had already won one Super Bowl and would eventually win another. They were facing a Rams squad led by Jim Everett, who was legendary for his inability to take a hit. The stage was set for a typical Giants win: lots of sacks and lots of handoffs. Taylor did get to Everett twice, but those were the Giants' only sacks, and the team's grinding offense ground to a halt when Simms completed just three passes to his wide receivers. Everett threw for 314 yards, hitting Flipper Anderson for a 30-yard touchdown in overtime for a victory that completely flipped the script of late-1980s football."

Next up, at No. 7, is a trio of Buddy Ryan-coached Philadelphia Eagles teams. The FO guys lumped the 1988, '89 and '90 Eagles together into one big disappointment. Philly went a combined 31-17 over those three seasons but couldn't make it past the divisional round of the playoffs. Included in here is the "Fog Bowl" loss to the Bears and a couple of wild-card-round beatdowns by the Rams and Redskins in the years that followed it:
"The 1988 Fog Bowl was certainly a disappointment to anyone who tuned in on television and hoped to see the action, but it wasn't a crippling loss for the Eagles, a young team that played well against an established powerhouse. The other two losses, though, set the pattern that doomed Ryan and the Eagles. The Rams used a three-man rush and eight-man zone defense to keep Cunningham from scrambling, so the baffled passer spent the game throwing short passes for minimal gains to his backs. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs knew how to handle Ryan's blitzes, dialing up a mixture of screen passes and max-protect bombs that made a great defense look silly. Combine No. 9 and No. 7 on this list, and you have a new definition of 'disappointment': losing to Jim Everett in the playoffs."

Telling you. Bitter guys, those Football Outsiders.

And finally, at No. 3 on the list ... who else but the 2007 Dallas Cowboys, who started 12-1, finished 12-4, went to Cabo with Tony Romo on the bye week and lost to the Super Bowl-bound Giants at home in the divisional round?
"The Cowboys actually held 14-7 and 17-14 leads in the playoff game, but after Brandon Jacobs scored a 1-yard touchdown near the start of the fourth quarter, the Cowboys' offense collapsed in a heap of ugly sacks and sloppy penalties. Lesson learned: Cabo is a great place for players to visit in early February, not early January."

I don't know about you guys, but I can't wait to see what kind of pain and ugliness the FO guys will be dredging up for us next week. I guess the best thing we can say about this week's series is that at least Giants and Redskins fans can remember how much fun it was to be on the right side of a couple of these letdowns. One man's horrible disappointment is another man's retroactive gloating opportunity. Or something like that.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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