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10. Oilers vs. Steelers, Jan. 6, 1980
The previous year, the Oilers were blown out by the Steelers, 34-5, in the AFC Championship game. The same teams matched up again for the right to go to the Super Bowl in 1980, and played a much closer game. The Oilers trailed 17-10 in the third quarter, when QB Dan Pastorini lofted a pass that wideout Mike Renfro corralled in the end zone for what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown. However, the referees ruled that Renfro's feet were out of bounds, and the Oilers settled for a field goal. Television replays showed that Renfro had both feet inbounds -- if the NFL had instant replay at the time, the call almost certainly would have been overturned. Instead, the turn of events shifted the momentum to Pittsburgh, and the Steelers went on to win 27-13.
9. Super Bowl XXXIV, Jan. 30, 2000
In just their third season as the Tennessee Titans, the team formerly known as the Oilers went 13-3 in the regular season and made it to the Super Bowl in Atlanta -- rubbing salt in the wounds of those in Houston whose hearts were broken by the team's departure. And for those in Houston who still rooted for the team, the end of this game was heartbreaking as well. With six seconds left and Tennessee 10 yards away from a game-tying touchdown, Titans' QB Steve McNair hit WR Kevin Dyson on a slant inside the 5-yard line. But Rams LB Mike Jones wrapped up Dyson a yard away from the end zone to end arguably the most exciting Super Bowl ever.
8. Rockets vs. Lakers, Dec. 9, 1977
This was one of the ugliest moments in sports history. Early in the second half, Lakers power forward Kermit Washington and Rockets center Kevin Kunnert came to blows on the court. Kunnert's teammate, Rudy Tomjanovich, came rushing to Kunnert's aid to try to break up the fight. Washington turned and wildly swung his fist. The blow connected with Tomjanovich's face and caused severe jaw, eye and cheek injuries. He spent five months in rehab. The Rockets, who had advanced to the conference finals the previous year, finished in last place with a record of 28-54. And though he returned to play for the Rockets the next season, Tomjanovich was never quite the same player again.
7. Rockets vs. SuperSonics, May 22, 1993
This was Rudy Tomjanovich's first season as the Rockets' permanent head coach, after serving as interim coach the previous season. The Rockets, Midwest Division champs, were facing a Game 7 against the SuperSonics in Seattle -- both teams had finished with 55-27 records, but the Sonics owned home-court advantage because of their head-to-head record against Houston. The home team had won each of the first six games of the series. The Rockets, up by 10 at halftime, led for most of the first three quarters, but the Sonics forced overtime. Trailing 101-100 in the extra session, the Rockets had one final opportunity to win after Seattle's Derrick McKey missed two free throws. But Vernon "Mad Max" Maxwell missed an 18-foot baseline jumper with 0.8 seconds left.
6. Houston vs. Georgetown, April 2, 1984
After their crushing loss to N.C. State in the '83 title game (see below), the Cougars won a school-record 32 games to get back to the NCAA championship game. This time, they faced the Georgetown Hoyas, who had lost the '82 title game by a single point to North Carolina. It was the first meeting ever between the superstar big men Patrick Ewing (Georgetown) and Akeem Olajuwon (Houston). Olajuwon outscored Ewing 15-10, and both had nine rebounds. But Ewing's supporting cast carried the Hoyas to an 84-75 victory.
5. Oilers announce relocation plans, Nov. 16, 1995
Oilers founder and owner Bud Adams, upset that the city of Houston wouldn't build his team a new football-only stadium, announced that he'd signed a relocation agreement with Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen to move the Oilers to Tennessee. Five months later, the NFL approved the move. The Oilers played one final season in Houston, in 1996. Running back Eddie George was named rookie of the year after rushing for 1,368 yards. The team went 8-8, but only 2-6 at home playing in front of substantially smaller crowds. After the '96 season, Adams negotiated a deal with the city to break the team's lease with the Astrodome a year early, and the team began playing in Tennessee in 1997. In their final game in Houston on Dec. 15, 1996, the Oilers lost to the Bengals, 21-13.
4. Astros vs. Phillies, Oct. 12, 1980
The Astros finished the season with a record of 93-70, and defeated the Dodgers in a one-game playoff to win their first division title. In the five-game NLCS, Houston and Philadelphia split the first four games. Games 2, 3 and 4 all went into extra innings. In Game 4 at the Astrodome, Houston squandered a 2-0 eighth-inning lead, and lost 5-3 in 10 innings. But the Astros had another chance to win it, at home, in the fifth and final game. They had Nolan Ryan going to the hill to face 22-year-old Phillies' rookie Marty Bystrom, a September call-up. Again the Astros led going into the eighth inning, 5-2. But Philadelphia exploded for five runs in the top of the eighth. The Astros tied it up, though, and sent the game into extra innings, but the Phillies won, 8-7, in the 10th.
3. Houston vs. NC State, April 4, 1983
The 1982-83 Houston Cougars, led by Akeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler, had been nicknamed "Phil Slama Jamma" for their high-flying, fast-breaking style of play. They were ranked No. 1 in the country and had won 26 consecutive games leading up to the NCAA Tournament final. The N.C. State Wolfpack were heavy underdogs, but led 33-25 at intermission. With the game tied at 52 in the closing seconds, N.C. State had possession for the final shot. A pass from Thurl Bailey to Dereck Whittenburg was knocked away by Drexler. Whittenburg grabbed the ball and heaved a desperation shot from about 30 feet away. The ball didn't reach the rim, but the Wolfpack's Lorenzo Charles caught it and slammed it in with one second left to win the game -- one of the most replayed shots in sports history. And who will ever forget Jim Valvano's reaction?
2. Oilers vs. Bills, Jan. 3, 1993
This, the largest comeback in NFL history, easily could have taken the top spot on our list. The Bills hosted the Oilers in an AFC Wild Card playoff game. Houston led 28-3 at the half, as Warren Moon completed 19-of-22 passes for 218 yards and 4 TDs in the first two quarters. The Oilers upped their lead to 35-3 less than two minutes into the second half on an interception return by Bubba McDowell. But then things fell apart. Buffalo scored five consecutive touchdowns, four on passes from Frank Reich (who started at QB for the injured Jim Kelly) to take a 38-35 lead. The Oilers needed a 26-yard Al Del Greco field goal with 12 seconds left just to send the game into overtime. Houston won the coin toss and took the ball to start OT, but Moon was intercepted by Nate Odoms. Four plays later, Steve Christie booted a 32-yard FG to give the Bills a 41-38 victory.
1. Astros vs. Mets, Oct. 15, 1986