Worst Losing Streaks in Sports History
Nothing captivates sports fans like a great sports streak. The streak could be related to the outcome of a game or something within a game like a hitting streak or a made shot streak in basketball. Streaks provide that extra layer of rooting interest and keep fans even more invested than normal.
But not all streaks are good ones, or rather, winning streaks. Just as there are record winning streaks, there are also record losing streaks that often get just as much attention. Everyone loves witnessing history, and some losing streaks are historical and deserve mention.
That’s exactly what we will do here as we highlight some of the greatest losers of all time. These include both teams and players and range from high school all the way to the pros.
Here are the greatest losing streaks in sports history.
30. Northwestern Football Loses 34 Straight Games
Sport: College football
Forgettable stat: The Northwestern offense was bad during the streak, but the defense was plain awful and allowed fewer than 20 points just twice in 34 games.
Did you know: Northwestern students "celebrated" breaking the longest losing streak in FBS history by rushing the field after a loss to give them the record.
Bottom line: Northwestern isn’t exactly known for its athletics and operates more like an Ivy League school than a Big Ten one. As such, the Wildcats hold the record for the longest losing streak in FBS history, in addition to holding the record for the longest NCAA tournament drought in history (78 years).
In the late 1970s, sports fans could sense something bad was on the horizon for Northwestern football since the program won just three games total from 1976 to 1978. They then lost their last nine games of 1979, went 0-11 in both 1980 and 1981 and lost their first three in 1982.
Facing Northern Illinois allowed them to end the streak with a 31-6 victory. Northwestern’s coach at the time was Dennis Green, who became the Big Ten’s first African-American coach and later coached 13 years in the NFL.
29. Sunderland Sinks to Relegation With 15 Consecutive Losses
Forgettable stat: The only stat in which Sunderland didn’t finish last in was attendance thanks to the Stadium of Light, which is the ninth-largest stadium in England.
Did you know: This is the longest losing streak in Premier League history.
Bottom line: Few sports allow ties, but soccer is one of them, which makes this streak all the more amazing.
For 15 straight matches, Sunderland walked off the pitch as losers. Those 15 matches were part of a 20-match streak in which they went winless.
Needless to say, Sunderland was relegated to Division One after the season since they had the most losses, fewest wins, fewest goals scored and most goals conceded.
28. Orioles Set American League Record With 21 Straight Losses
Forgettable stat: The entire team was at the Mendoza Line during the streak as the Orioles hit exactly .200.
Did you know: The streak led to the firing of manager Cal Ripken Sr., who was the father of the team’s best player, Cal Ripken Jr.
Bottom line: It’s one thing to lose 21 straight games, but it’s another to lose 21 straight to start the season.
Just three weeks into the 1988 season, the Orioles already knew their postseason hopes were dashed, and they were just playing out the string while still in April. Baltimore was outscored 129-44 during the streak, which cost manager Cal Ripken Sr. his job just six games in.
Frank Robinson replaced Ripken and didn't fare much better in the month, losing every game except on April 29, when the Orioles ended the streak. It wasn’t some nail-biter or narrow win. The team shut out the White Sox 9-0. Two pitchers combined to throw a four-hitter while Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Eddie Murry hit home runs.
27. Towson Basketball Loses 41 Games in a Row
Sport: College basketball
Forgettable stat: Nearly one-quarter of the losses (10 games) came by 25 points or more.
Did you know: This is the longest losing streak in NCAA Division I history.
Bottom line: Towson has made the NCAA tournament just twice in their program history, and they were No. 16 seeds both times, so they don’t exactly scream mid-major powerhouse.
But the bottom fell out from January 2011 to January 2012 as the team didn’t win a single game. The Tigers closed out the 2010-11 season with 19 straight losses, including going 0-18 in conference play.
They, then, for some reason, scheduled lots of Power 5 schools early the following season, and they lost those games. They started the 2011-12 season 0-22 to give them 41 straight losses before defeating UNC Wilmington for their lone win of the 2011-12 season.
26. Curt Hawkins Jobs His Way to 269 Straight L's
Sport: Professional wrestling
Forgettable stat: Curt Hawkins went without a win for 879 days.
Did you know: "So I was like, if I’m going to be a loser, why don’t I just be the best loser they’ve ever seen," said Hawkins.
Bottom line: The role of a jobber in pro wrestling is to go out, make your opponent look good and lose your match. Within that role, Hawkins is the Michael Jordan of jobbing. No one in recent memory has done it any better.
For nearly three years, he was on the losing end of every match he took part in, and his losing streak garnered him more attention than many of WWE’s most popular wrestlers.
The losing streak came to an end at WrestleMania 35 when Hawkins pinned his opponent in a tag match to become one half of the WWE Raw Tag Team Champions.
25. B.J. Penn Ends His UFC Career With Seven Losses in the Octagon
Sport: Mixed martial arts
Forgettable stat: B. J. Penn lost in every way imaginable during the streak with four coming by decision, two coming by knockout and one coming by submission.
Did you know: Penn fought in three different weight classes (welterweight, featherweight, lightweight), all to no avail.
Bottom line: B.J. Penn is the only UFC fighter to be a champion at both welterweight and lightweight, but the octagon veteran also holds another more dubious record. He holds the longest losing streak in UFC history.
He his last seven fights and did not win in his last eight fights. It was a sad ending for Penn, who already has been inducted into UFC’s Hall of Fame and clearly has nothing left in the tank.
UFC president Dana White was going to give Penn one more chance to end the streak following his latest loss in May 2019. But just a few months later, a video emerged of Penn in a bar brawl and also fighting on the streets of Hawaii, prompting the UFC to release him from his contract.
24. Detroit Lions Lose 19 Straight Games
Forgettable stat: Sixteen of these losses came during the 2008 season when the Lions became the first team to go 0-16.
Did you know: The Lions went 7-1 in the preseason during their streak.
Bottom line: After finishing 7-9 in the 2007 season, no one expected such a precipitous drop in play for the Lions, who proceeded to go winless the next season.
They shuffled through three different starting quarterbacks that season, but things were looking up when they drafted Matthew Stafford first overall the following season. Stafford added two more losses to that losing streak before the team got its first win in Week 3 — 643 days after their last win.
This stretch without a victory is the second-longest losing streak since the 1970 merger and is tied for third-longest in NFL history.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves Fall to Seattle Supersonics 26 Straight Times
Forgettable stat: Twenty of the 26 losses by Minnesota came by double-digits.
Did you know: This run was the longest losing streak in NBA history of one team against another.
Bottom line: The T-Wolves' inaugural season was 1989-90 while the SuperSonics were one of the best teams in the 1990s, so this was a true David vs. Goliath with Goliath prevailing.
Minnesota was undermanned in the teams’ early meetings, but the gap started to narrow in 1995 when the Wolves drafted Kevin Garnett. In KG’s third season, the Timberwolves put an end to the streak with a 112-103 win in Seattle.
"In the back of your mind, you’re thinking you’re finally going to lose one," said Sonic forward Detlef Schrempf.
22. J.D. McDuffie’s 653rd Straight Loss Becomes His Final Race
Sport: Auto racing
Forgettable stat: His 32 last-place finishes rank as the second-most in NASCAR history.
Did you know: J.D. McDuffie holds the NASCAR record for most races without a win.
Bottom line: If you have 106 top 10 finishes in your NASCAR career like J.D. McDuffie had, then you would consider that quite a success. However, those placements were the peak of McDuffie’s career.
He never broke through to get the checkered flag. He won several smaller races before joining NASCAR’s Cup Series, but his best-ever finish was third place.
McDuffie did not finish his 653rd and final race. He crashed into a wall and flipped his car, and it came to rest upside down. He died instantly due to a skull fracture at the age of 52.
21. Cavaliers Take an 'L' in 26 straight After LeBron Takes His Talents to South Beach
Forgettable stat: Most of the losses weren’t even close — just three of the 26 were by a single possession (three points or fewer).
Did you know: This streak is the longest single-season losing streak in NBA history. The 76ers’ 28-game losing streak was spread over two seasons.
Bottom line: One month into the 2010-11 season, the Cavaliers exceeded expectations in a post-LeBron world and had a 7-9 record. Then, the dam broke, and they lost 36 of their next 37 games, including the second-longest losing streak in NBA history.
An overtime win prevented the Cavs from losing all 37 of those games since they lost 10 in a row, won in OT and then loss 26 more in a row. The streak enabled the Cavs to have the worst record in the league, which led to them drafting Kyrie Irving the following season, which then led to LeBron James returning a couple of years later.
So everything came full circle thanks to this epic losing streak.
20. Washington Capitals Are Welcomed to the NHL With 17 Straight Losses
Forgettable stat: The Capitals had two separate 17-game winless streaks during the 1974-75 season. This one consisted of 17 losses and another was 16 losses and one tie.
Did you know: "I'd rather find out my wife was cheating on me than keep losing like this," said fired Capitals coach Jim Anderson." At least I could tell my wife to cut it out."
Bottom line: The Capitals were an expansion team in 1974-75, and they experienced all of the natural hardships that come with being an expansion team.
They cycled through three coaches and used 39 different players — over half of which were either rookies or second-year players. Their 17-game losing streak followed their only shutout win of the season, which came against the league’s other expansion team, the Kansas City Scouts.
The Capitals allowed an average of 6.8 goals during the streak, including allowing a dozen goals to the Penguins in a 12-1 loss. What makes that even more astonishing is that all 12 goals were scored at even strength. The Penguins didn’t score a single one on a power play.
19. Vince Spadea Is on the Wrong End of 'Game. Set. Match' 21 Straight Times
Forgettable stat: Only four of Vincent Spadea’s 21 losses came to opponents ranked in the top 20.
Did you know: Spadea was nicknamed "The Charlie Brown of Tennis" by The Associated Press during the streak.
Bottom line: Vincent Spadea achieved a top-20 ranking in late 1999, including a win over world No. 1 Pete Sampras. Then, he fell off a cliff.
From October 1999 to June 2000, Spadea lost 21 matches in a row. Not 21 tournaments, but 21 matches in a row. He somehow only dropped to No. 61 on the ATP Tour during this time but the residual effect would be felt afterward as he dropped to No. 237 later in the year. The streak ended at Wimbledon when he beat Greg Rusedski in the first round.
For his career, Spadea played in 670 singles tournaments and won exactly one of them. But he still finished his career with a cool $5 million in earnings.
18. Detroit Lions’ Nine-Game Postseason Losing Streak Is Still Going Strong
Forgettable stat: Thirty of the 31 other NFL teams have won a postseason game since this streak began. The Bengals are the lone exception.
Did you know: Thirty-six of the 53 members of the 2019 Lions team were not born yet when the Lions last won a playoff game.
Bottom line: It’s been 27 years and counting since the Lions last experienced a postseason victory. Their nine straight losses is the longest streak in NFL history.
They beat the Cowboys in the 1991 divisional round before losing in the NFC championship game, and since then, it’s been one-and-done for Detroit. Their last eight playoff appearances have all been in the wild-ccard round with the last seven all being on the road.
The Lions also hold the longest Super Bowl/NFL championship game appearance drought. It’s been 61 seasons since they were in the big game.
17. There Are Four 'L’s' in Philadelphia Phillies but 23 losses in This Streak
Forgettable stat: The Phillies had their chances during the streak — eight of their 23 losses came by a single run.
Did you know: Over 2,000 Phillies fans waited for the team at the airport to celebrate after they ended their losing streak.
Bottom line: While most baseball fans were riveted by Roger Maris' and Mickey Mantle's quests in 1961 to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record, fans in Philadelphia were engrossed with a record losing streak by their team.
The Phillies' 23-game losing streak is the most by any major league team since 1900, and it was one of three losing streaks of at least eight games for the team that season.
The Phillies had a higher team batting average during the streak (.248) than they had for the season (.243), but their ERA was much higher during the streak (5.33) than their team ERA for the season (4.61).
16. Bills Go Winless Against the Dolphins in the 1970s by Losing All 20 Games
Forgettable stat: This is the longest losing streak of one team against another team in NFL history.
Did you know: The Bills beat the Dolphins in the teams' last meeting in the 1960s and their first meeting in the 1980s.
Bottom line: Both the Dolphins and Bills jumped from the AFL to the NFL in 1970, and while Miami had immediate success, Buffalo longed for the old days.
The Dolphins of the 1970s were highlighted by their undefeated 1972 team, but they were dominant throughout the decade and won at least 10 games in nine of the 10 years. Many of those wins, 20 of them to be exact, came against the Bills as Miami swept the season series all 10 years.
When the Bills ended the streak in 1980, not a single player on the Bills team was in the NFL the last time Buffalo beat Miami.
15. Cal Basketball Falls to UCLA 52 Consecutive Times
Sport: College basketball
Forgettable stat: The Bears had nearly as many losses by 25-plus points (13) as they had losses by single-digits (15).
Did you know: While this streak was going on, UCLA football also had a streak going against Cal football — the Bruins had won 14 in a row on the gridiron.
Bottom line: For a quarter of a century, all Cal basketball knew how to do was lose to UCLA.
Many teams lost to the Bruins during this time — they won 10 national championships — but no one had quite the streak of Cal, which didn’t even make the NCAA tournament once during the 25-year span.
Both teams were unranked when Cal ended the streak, and the Bears had the better record, but the Cal students celebrated like they had just won the national championship. Students rushed the court in jubilee while Cal coach Lou Campanelli was carried off the court on the shoulders of his players.
14. Expansion Kansas City Royals Fall to Pennant-Winning Orioles 23 Straight Times
Forgettable stat: During the streak, the Orioles committed just 12 errors while the Royals committed 25 errors.
Did you know: This is the longest streak in MLB history of one team losing to another opponent.
Bottom line: The Kansas City Royals' first three seasons of existence were from 1969 to 1971, and the Baltimore Orioles made the World Series in each of those three years.
The Royals won the first-ever meeting between the two before Baltimore won the next 11 in 1969 and all 12 in 1970, before losing the opener in 1971.
The Royals had overhauled their roster by then, and future manager Lou Piniella was the only player who was in the lineup for the Royals from when the streak began to when it ended.
13. Entire AFC South Falls to Colts in 16 Straight Games
Forgettable stat: The Titans, Texans and Jaguars combined to start 10 different quarterbacks during the streak while the Colts started just two.
Did you know: This was the longest divisional losing streak in NFL history.
Bottom line: You would think that the Tom Brady-era Patriots would hold the longest winning streak in NFL history in divisional games, but it’s the Andrew Luck-led Colts.
The Texans lost to the Colts in Week 17 of the 2012 season before the Texans, Jaguars and Titans were swept in 2013 and 2014.
Those three aforementioned teams lost again in each of their first meetings with Indianapolis in 2015 before the Jags ended the streak in Week 14 while Luck was injured.
12. Buccaneers Kick Off Their Franchise With 26 Straight Losses
Forgettable stat: The Bucs failed to score a touchdown in 14 of their 26 losses.
Did you know: Then-Bucs coach John McKay was asked what he thought about his team’s execution and he responded, "I think it’s a good idea."
Bottom line: Every expansion team, regardless of sport, struggles right out of the gate. Your roster is comprised of cast-offs from other teams and rookies, so not much is expected of these teams. But no one expected the fledgling Tampa Bay Buccaneers to be as bad as they were by losing a post-merger record of 26 straight games.
They went 0-14 in their first season and appeared to be on their way to another winless second season until the final few weeks.
Not only did the Bucs get their first win after starting 0-12 in 1977, but they also got their second win in the next game to finish 2-12.
11. Anthony Young Makes MLB History by Losing 27 Consecutive Decisions as a Pitcher
Forgettable stat: Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux had 27 wins during Anthony Young’s streak.
Did you know: Young had a 23.2 innings scoreless streak during his record losing streak.
Bottom line: Anthony Young was a decent relief pitcher who had horrible luck for most of the 1992 and 1993 seasons.
Early on, he was the Mets' closer, which meant 99 percent of the time he pitched, he could either get a save or a loss. Well, he got plenty of both for about 15 months. Young converted 16 saves, blew five saves and lost 27 games.
He was never in a position to get a win until July 28, 1993, when he pitched the ninth inning and left the mound with his team trailing 4-3. Young was in line to get another loss, but the Mets rallied in the bottom of the ninth to win 5-4 and to end Young’s record losing streak as he got the win.
10. Pistons' Playoff Futility With 14 Straight Defeats Is Alive and Well
Forgettable stat: Twenty-eight of the other 29 NBA teams have won a playoff game since this streak began. The Kings are the lone exception.
Did you know: This is the longest postseason losing streak in NBA history.
Bottom line: In 2008, the Pistons made the conference finals for the sixth straight year and fell to the eventual champion Celtics. Little did anyone know that Detroit would not win a single playoff game following that series — a streak that is still going today.
The Pistons have made the playoffs since then, but they’ve been swept 4-0 in all three of those appearances. Add those 12 losses with the two that closed out the Celtics’ series, and you have a losing streak that stretches for over 11 years.
9. Over 260 Events Later, Charlie Wi Is Still Searching for his First PGA Tour Win
Forgettable stat: It’s hard to win if you don’t make the cut, and Wi has missed the cut on nearly 40 percent of his PGA Tour tournaments.
Did you know: As Happy Gilmore taught us, you can still win money without winning golf tournaments. And Wi has made over $10 million on the PGA Tour.
Bottom line: Charlie Wi has been on the PGA Tour for 14 years and has 21 top 10 finishes. However, what Wi doesn’t have is a first-place finish on the tour. His best placement is five second-place finishes.
Wi has won golf tournaments on both the Asian Tour and the European Tour. He just hasn't cracked the code on the PGA Tour.
After missing more cuts than he made in 2014, Wi lost his PGA Tour card and has only played a few events due to exemptions since then, making it unlikely that he’ll ever get that elusive victory.
8. Dallas Mavericks Suffer Double-Digit Losses in 12 Straight Games
Forgettable stat: During this streak, the Mavericks average margin of loss was 20.4 points per game.
Did you know: This streak didn’t come to an end with the Mavs losing a game by single digits. It actually ended when they won a game.
Bottom line: In the 1992-93 NBA season, the Mavericks became the second team in league history to lose 70 games (11-71 record), and this blowout losing streak helped them reach that mark.
Dallas became the first NBA team to post 12 consecutive double-digit losses as they started tanking before tanking was even cool. The teams they took on weren’t scrubs — 10 of the 12 made the playoffs that season.
Event though the logistics of this part of the schedule were favorable to Dallas (seven of the games were at home and there were no back-to-backs throughout the dozen games), they still weren't close to sniffing a win.
7. Diamond Hill-Jarvis High School (Texas) Loses 77 Straight
Sport: High School Football
Forgettable stat: This streak nearly doubled the school’s second-longest losing streak of 41 games from 1982 to 1986.
Did you know: This was the second-longest streak in Texas high school football history and came up just three games short of Jefferson Davis’ 80-game streak.
Bottom line: Many high schools in Texas are known for their great football programs, but Diamond Hill-Jarvis clearly isn’t one of those. The school in Fort Worth is known more for academics than athletics and was named one of the top 100 schools in the nation by Newsweek.
After becoming the butt of so many jokes for their never-ending losing streak, their football team put an end to the humiliation in the season opener for 2018. Diamond Hill-Jarvis didn’t just squeak by with a win, either. They crushed Conrad High School by a score of 40-12.
But the school wasn’t done there. They decided to celebrate the end of their losing streak by starting a winning streak that lasted ... two games. That’s still two more games than they won over the previous eight years.
6. Princeton’s Sprint Football Team Sprinted Toward Futility With 106 Losses in a Row
Sport: Sprint football
Forgettable stat: Over one six-game stretch during the streak, Princeton was outscored 350-17.
Did you know: This is the longest college football streak of all time.
Bottom line: Like many Ivy League schools, Princeton had a sprint football team for players 178 pounds or lighter. At one point, they were among the best and won eight league titles with the last coming in 1989. However, things fell apart a decade later, and they began a lengthy losing streak that would not end.
A big part of that losing streak was that their sprint league started adding teams that didn’t have regular football teams. Thus, those teams could use their best athletes while a school like Princeton had its best athletes on its regular football team.
After a losing streak that spanned 16 seasons and included several forfeits, Princeton shut down its sprint football program. So this streak will still be going if Princeton resurrects its sprint football program.
5. 76ers Trust 'The Process' All the Way to 28 Straight Losses
Forgettable stat: Since this streak stretched across two seasons and one offseason, Philadelphia went 249 days in between wins.
Did you know: This is the longest losing streak in NBA history, and the Sixers also have the second-longest losing streak (26 games).
Bottom line: Most losing streaks are unintentional, but you could argue that this one was planned by the Sixers' front office. Their "process" involved them losing games in order to net high draft picks, so the team purposefully filled its roster with players who could accomplish that goal.
From 2014 to 2016 ,the team had six separate losing streaks of at least 12 games, and their second-longest was 26 games. Philadelphia used 14 different starting lineups over the streak to ensure there was no continuity, which further helped them accomplish their mission of tanking.
After ending the losing streak with a win over the Lakers, the 76ers then lost 12 more in a row.
4. Prairie View A&M Football Suffers 80 Straight Defeats
Sport: College Football
Forgettable stat: In 1991, Prairie View was outscored 617-48, or an average score of 56-4.
Did you know: This is the longest football losing streak in NCAA history.
Bottom line: Due to financial issues, Prairie View shut down its football program in 1989, but it returned two years later. However, there was no scholarship fund for the team, and thus no scholarships.
The rest of the FCS, then known as Division I-AA, awarded partial scholarships to its athletes, so Prairie View was facing an uphill battle when they took the field in 1991.
The Panthers went parts of nine seasons without winning a game and nearly doubled the previous longest losing streak of 44 games held by Columbia.
Prairie View A&M's record losing streak was part of an era in which it went 31 seasons without posting a winning record.
3. Caltech Basketball Makes College Basketball History With 207 Successive Defeats
Sport: College basketball
Forgettable stat: This losing streak was part of a conference losing streak that lasted 26 years and 310 games before ending in 2011.
Did you know: The Caltech women’s basketball team had a 48-game losing streak that took place simultaneously with the men’s team’s streak.
Bottom line: For 11 years, Caltech, a Division III school in Pasadena (California), went winless to establish the all-time NCAA record for longest basketball losing streak. The school prides itself on academics, not athletics, and most of the team's players did not even play basketball in high school.
The streak gained so much attention that a documentary was made about ending it in 2007. "Quantum Hoops" chronicled the team during the 2005-06 season, which was one year before they ended the streak.
They finally broke it with a 29-point win over Bard College in January 2007, a few months before "Quantum Hoops" premiered.
2. Chicago Cardinals' 29-Game Losing Streak Is Still the Longest in NFL History
Forgettable stat: The Cardinals failed to score an offensive touchdown in 10 games during the streak.
Did you know: Just two years after the streak ended, the Cardinals won the NFL championship.
Bottom line: The Cardinals just couldn’t get it right in the 1940s, and they provided the most fruitless stretch of play in NFL history.
After starting the 1942 season 3-2, the team went nearly three calendar years before picking up another win. That included the interesting 1944 season when the Cardinals merged with the Steelers due to both teams having a shortage of players because of World War II.
That 0-10 season is only counted toward the Cardinals’ record books as the Steelers have all but wiped it from their team history.
1. Buffalo Bills Come Up Small in the Big Game Four Straight Times
Forgettable stat: Even with a one-point loss in their first Super Bowl, the Bills still lost by an average of 21 points over the four games.
Did you know: The four losses doubled the previous record of most consecutive Super Bowl losses.
Bottom line: In each of their four playoff journeys to their four Super Bowls, the Bills dominated the AFC and won by an average of 17 points per game. But when matched up with the NFC’s best, it was a different story.
The Bills were blown out in three of the four big games. Their renowned "K-Gun" offense was stifled each time, and the Bills could never protect the ball when it mattered most. They had 17 turnovers over the four games, compared to just three total turnovers for their Super Bowl opponents.
The Super Bowl losing streak came to an end when the Bills failed to make the playoffs in the 1994 season.