Not too long ago, ctex80 wrote about the worst losses of the MB era, a trip down memory lane that was painful but strangely attractive to read for Horns fans. It is a strange characteristic of sports fans to seem to willingly allow the teams they love to enact great emotional trauma on them. I wrote about the insanity of our Longhorn love a while ago, wondering off-hand why we as fans put ourselves through that kind of stuff. Looking back at that post, I hypothetically mentioned how devastated I would be if we had a near-miss of the national title game by dropping a game after defeating Oklahoma. And we did. And boy, I was devastated. I hate myself for predicting that.
However, we also get to experience the great joys of the team's successes, and sometimes, the valleys can make the peaks that much sweeter. It seems almost a mark of true fandom to go through the rough times (or at least know about and appreciate them for new people) in order to enjoy the good times, which is why bandwagon fans are often looked down upon. If you want to celebrate with your team, you have to mourn with them too.
As I said above, ctex did an excellent job compiling a list of gut-wrenching losses. However, in those games, we can often identify plays and situations which truly felt like somebody just socked you right in the stomach (or better yet, hit you there with a lead pipe), knocking the wind and joy out of your body. Sometimes these plays are the first ones that we think of when we remember these losses, and their images are burned in the minds of Horns fans forever.
Let's look at these plays. Not because we just enjoy hurting ourselves, but because we will appreciate the good times all the more. If you want to make yourselves feel better, check out ctex's other post here.
1. I reserve the right to put in a series of plays as one situation if I feel like they are sufficiently connected. There can also be multiple plays or series of plays from the same game.
2. The plays must have a direct bearing on the outcome of the game, and that outcome must be a loss. So that discounts plays like Dwayne Jarrett slam-dunking a touchdown against us while Michael Griffin and Tarell Brown lay motionless in the grass. That sucked, but we still won. So when I see Jarrett doing the upside down Horns sign to the camera and saying "It's a wrap" while Brown is taken to the locker room, I just laugh and remember him sulking off the field after the clock hits triple zeros. Eat that, Jarrett.
3. The play must really, really suck. I know that's ambiguous, but you know what I mean. It has to be a play that causes fans to think "What if" about a million times.
4. If the play fits #2, and that game had big prizes attached to it, it gets extra consideration.
So, Texas fans are feeling pretty good with Major Applewhite and the promise of second year coach Mack Brown. And we lost to NC State because they block a freaking punt in the home opener. Yay. Talk about starting the season poorly. Wasn't that fun watching somebody steal a lead late in the game by taking back a blocked punt and the whole stadium wondering what the #$@@ just happened. At least we defeated Nebraska, but we ended up losing to them in the conference title game.
9. Vince Young fumbles at the goalline against Oklahoma, 2003.
Vince Young had just dazzled everyone with an impossibly easy looking 60 yard run. About to punch the ball in and gain momentum against the hated Sooners, Young fumbles the ball at the goalline. The Sooners recover, and that ended a golden opportunity to tie the game at 14. The Sooners cashed the ensuing drive in for a field goal, and the Horns never got closer than that. Final score: 65-13. Ouch.
8. Vince Young fumbles again, OU 2004.
In our 2004 "shootout", we held OU to 12 measly points. Derrick Johnson was excellent that game and our defense, despite Adrian Peterson, played their hearts out. Our offense rewarded them with zero points. No failed drive hurt more than Young's last fumble. We had already fouled up multiple scoring opportunities, and at 12-0 in the fourth quarter, the Horns were desperate for a score to give us a chance to win. At the OU 35 yard line on second down, Young is sacked and fumbles, and OU recovered. While OU would go a quick three and out, they punted the ball and downed it at UT's 6 yard line. The rest of the game was just a formality after that. That would be our lone loss of the season, and while there's no guarantee we could defeat USC (or even make it to the NC game if the nod was given to Auburn), it would have been nice to go undefeated.
7. Chris Simms throws interception against Texas Tech, 2002.
To be fair to Simms, he didn't have a bad game. But down 42-38, after injuries to Vasher and Derrick Johnson, we still had a chance to take this one in Lubbock and earn a BCS bid. Instead, Simms throws a pick on UT's last drive on the very first play, with over five minutes remaining. Texas Tech traveled a grand total of 15 yards and used up the rest of the time, and the Texas offense never saw the ball again. Bye bye, BCS at-large bid.
6. Colt McCoy goes down against K-State, 2006.
I know this was early in the game. I know we still had a very real chance to win it. But I remember this vividly because of the sick feeling it gave to me. I had just watched the first parts of our first drive and watched Colt effortlessly guide us down the field. I nodded my approval, got ready, and left to campus for an event, where I would watch the remainder of the game at the Union. When I got to campus, I saw the horrible news: Colt had gone down and would not return. I can't explain it, but it gave me such a feeling of dread, because I knew that major upsets like that have these type of perfect storm moments. We ended up losing the game and getting knocked out of national title contention. Not only that, Colt's injury clearly affected him against A&M two weeks later, and losing that game knocked us out of the conference title race and out of the BCS altogether. I could not believe that happened. We lost our starting QB on a freaking QB sneak because we couldn't punch it in at the 1 yard line with our runningbacks? ARE YOU KIDDING?
5. Texas' D gives up a 22 yard pass on a 3rd and 20 to a fat cow named Javorskie Lane, 2007.
I know this should not be this high at all, and probably shouldn't even be in the Top 10, much less the Top 5. In fact, it's not a stomach-punching moment; it's an angry moment, but I want to vent. In the first drive against A&M in 2007, facing a very, very bad Aggie team, Texas' still had slim hopes for a BCS at-large bid. On third and 20, I was confident we were getting the ball back. I forgot our DC was Duane Akina. McGee steps up in the pocket, I believe Scott Derry steps up in anticipation that McGee will run the ball (who cares if he runs the ball! It's 3rd and 20! He's not Vince!), and McGee lofts a 22 yard pass over his head to Javorskie Lane of all people. I was so mad. It showed A&M that our defense and our DC were stupid and undisciplined and that even their crappy pass offense could find success against us. I repeat, we gave up a 22 yard pass on 3rd and 20 to a morbidly obese runningback to start the game. A&M scored that drive and never relinquished the lead, leading to one of the more humiliating losses of the MB era. I like Akina as a DB coach, but I was already fed up with him that season as our DC, and that play just about summed up everything, foreshadowing one of the worst defensive performances I've ever seen from Texas. When I wrote a blog post on it after the game, the title was "F you, Duane Akina."
4. Superman play, 2001.
With OU holding on a slim 7-3 lead, OU punts and Vasher screws up, and we're backed up against our own endzone. At least we have the ball right, with one of the most talented UT offenses in history? Well, Roy Williams decides to dive over the line like a maniac and whacks Chris Simms, and the ball flutters right into the hands of an OU defender who waltzes in the end zone. Game. OU walks out undefeated, and we do not. I know they are youtube clips of this, but I'm not posting them.
3. Phillip Geiggar roughs the punter, 2001 Big 12 championship game.
Oh my, this one hurt. With Colorado hanging on for dear life, they were punting the ball back to us with Major Applewhite at the helm. Everyone in the state of Texas knew we were going to score and stamp our ticket to the Rose Bowl to face Miami for the NC game. Instead, as the ball is snapped, Texas fans see one of their players fly down the middle virtually untouched. Here's the emotion I felt as I watched the game:
a) Upon seeing Geiggar by himself: "What the...?!"
b) Upon seeing Geiggar fly to the punter: "Wait... maybe... is he going to block it!!!"
c) Upon seeing Geiggar miss and hit the punter: "NOOOOOOOO!!!"
d) Upon seeing the flag as confirmation: "I'm going to kill... WTF... You freaking moron... Did that just happen... THIS IS STILL YOUR FAULT CHRIS SIMMS!"
All this I felt in that short period of time. After Colorado was awarded another first down, I looked wildly around my living room, looking for something to throw, holding back from exploding with every curse word I knew, and contemplating whether or not my parents would get that mad at me for drop kicking the TV and breaking it. Colorado took off an astonishing 7 minutes off the clock and kicked a field goal, rendering Major's last drive virtually meaningless. I will never forget that moment.
2. Blake Gideon drops an interception my hopelessly unathletic mother would have caught, and Michael Crabtree scores the winning TD with 1 second left, 2008.
Fair or not to Blake Gideon, he will always be remembered for this. Blake Gideon, contrary to the belief of some, had a fine freshman season. But here, with the national title and an undefeated season hanging in the balance, he was gifted with a defender's dream: A dangling ball, just asking to be intercepted. And he dropped it. I was one of the few Horns fans who seemed to actually watch the ball hit the ground the first time around. The friends I was with were celebrating, thinking that we had won the game, until they saw me still sitting and staring at the TV, a look of disbelief on my face. "What's wrong... wait, he dropped it?" Yes. He did. I'm not even exaggerating when I say my mother could have caught that ball.
If the football gods were kind to Blake, the Horns still would have won and his gaffe would be rendered as a funny side note, much like how Mack's stepson is never discussed since we walloped ASU anyway. It was not to be. Crabtree would catch the next pass, wrestle away Curtis Brown who was desperately trying to keep him in bounds, and walk into the endzone. As this happened, Earl Thomas strolled by the play, doing nothing to help his teammate. It is unfair to boil down that game to one play, as many things went wrong, but that series will never be forgotten. Just pure, gut-wrenching heartache after that. I could not even muster the energy to get mad at Gideon. I sat silent in my lucky Vince Young jersey, which I had worn in the previous three games of the brutal stretch, with my girlfriend trying to console me, and I just went to bed.
1. Chris Simms throws a pick-six, Cedric Benson and Mike Williams collide and exit the game, 2001 Big 12 title game.
This has to rank as one of the most catastophic snaps in the history of Texas. My goodness. With Texas' driving for a score on Colorado's side of the field, Simms throws another pick, and Simms could only watch as his ball is taken back 65 yards for a TD that put Colorado up 22-10. Not only that, we lose stud runningback Cedric Benson AND All-American right tackle Mike Williams on that play as they collided trying to make the tackle. I sat in stunned silence in my living room, unable to fathom what the @#$@ just happened, and I could tell every single Horns fan in the stadium was of similar thought. In ONE play, we not only lose a chance to tie the game, we turn the ball over, give up a touchdown to go down two scores, and lose two of our most important players. All this while Major Applewhite sat on the bench. When I think of that play, I wonder what Native American grave Mack Brown or Chris Simms sullied. How is all that even POSSIBLE on one play? You know it's not your day when stuff like that happens.
Of course, it makes it all worse that we ended up losing, partly because of #3, and go from national championship game bound to the Holiday Bowl. Yes, sports can be cruel.
There ya go. Ten plays that punched us in the stomach, and we still feel soreness there when we remember them. Unfortunately for Chris Simms, while I think much of his treatment is unfair, it is telling that he is a part of several of these without giving us a signature moment(s) to offset them. VY had his struggles, but he became the greatest thing we have ever seen. Simms was a good QB, but the memories he invokes, fair or not, are just awful.
I'm going to go home and watch the 2006 Rose Bowl now to make myself feel better.
All comments, FanPosts, and FanShots are the views of the reader-authors who create them.