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February 14, 2023

Are 2022-23 Eagles the best Philly team to lose a championship?

Philly's had a lot of championship heartbreak. So where do this season's Eagles fall?

Following the Eagles' heartbreaking 38-35 loss to the Chiefs Sunday night, Philadelphia's five major teams have now lost a combined 20 championship games/series in the city's history.

In a remarkable confluence of events, three of those came in the last four months.

The Birds' crushing Super Bowl LVII defeat came not long after the Union and then the Phillies suffered equally painful title losses after all three teams had magical runs.

How will these teams be remembered after their defeats? Where do they rank as far as title-losing teams go? Was this Eagles team the best to ever not win a title? 

Here's a run through the list:

1. 2022 Eagles 

14-3, lost to Kansas City in Super Bowl LVII

The Eagles were dominant all season long and were the betting favorite over Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. Several records were set, including the team sack record with 70 and a bevy of impressive Jalen Hurts accomplishments. They went toe-to-toe with KC in a memorable game, but this team will now go down as a "what if," along with the rest of this list.

2. 1979-80, 1981-82 Sixers

59-23, 58-24, lost NBA Finals (4-2 ) to LA Lakers (each time)

These were basically the same team, led by Dr. J, Daryl Dawkins, a young Mo Cheeks, Bobby Jones and coached by Billy Cunningham. They would lose in six games to the Lakers twice in three years before finally breaking through in 1983. The '83 team might be the best ever to play in the city.

3. 2000-01 Sixers

56-26, lost NBA Finals (4-1) to LA Lakers

Allen Iverson won MVP. Larry Brown won Coach of the Year. Aaron McKie was the Sixth Man of the Year. Dikembe Mutombo was Defensive Player of the Year. 

It wasn't enough to beat Shaq and Kobe.

4. 2009 Phillies

93-65, Lost to NY Yankees (4-2) in World Series

Arguably even better than the 2008 team that won the World Series, a repeat fell short despite having Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Cole Hamels all at the peak of their powers, with a little Cliff Lee thrown in.

5. 2004 Eagles

13-3, lost to New England in Super Bowl XXXIX

The only Andy Reid Eagles team to make it to a Super Bowl, the 2004 squad was positively dominant and lost to Tom Brady and the Patriots by a field goal.

6. 1975-76 Flyers

51-13-16, lost Stanley Cup (4-0) to Montreal

This team nearly pulled off a rare three-peat and was the last best push by the original Broad Street Bullies.

7. 1993 Phillies

91-71, lost World Series (4-2) to Toronto

Perhaps the most famous title losers in the city, the beloved '93 squad looked like they had a storybook ending in the bag. And then Joe Carter came to bat.

8. 1986-87 Flyers

46-26-8, lost Stanley Cup (4-3) to Edmonton

There were a lot of very good Flyers teams in the mid-1980s, but we're going to anoint this one as the best as they came one win away from beating Wayne Gretzky in his prime.

9. 2022 Phillies

87-75, lost to Houston (4-2) in World Series

This one is fresh in our memory and I didn't want to have recency bias. They had perhaps the most enjoyable and improbable run at just missing a championship of any team on this list — with playoff memories we'll never forget — but they barely made it into an expanded postseason field, so we'll dock them for that.

10. 2022 Union

19-5-10, lost to Los Angeles FC in MLS Cup

The Union lost in what was one of the most incredible soccer games I have ever seen. They'll no doubt be hungry as hell in 2023.

11. 1984-85 Flyers

53-20-7, lost Stanley Cup (4-1) to Edmonton

Tim Kerr and Brian Propp each nearly had nearly 100 points respectively as the Flyers fell to an all-time great Edmonton team.

12. 1980 Eagles

12-4, lost to Oakland in Super Bowl XV

The Ron Jaworski Eagles were fan favorites and marked the first Philly appearance in a Super Bowl. They didn't really show up for the big game though.

13. 1996-97 Flyers

45-24-14, lost Stanley Cup (4-0) to Detroit

This is a team I am fond of, as I was a kid when this run happened. The Legion of Doom nearly brought the Cup back to Philly but were unable to solve the Red Wings.

14. 1950 Phillies

91-63, lost in World Series (4-0) to the Yankees

This was a loaded team that boasted Hall of Famers Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts, each of whom had monster regular seasons. But the 1950 Yankees were also loaded and Philly was swept.

15. 1979-80 Flyers

48-12-20, lost Stanley Cup (4-2) to NY Islanders

At the tail end of the Bully days the 1980 Flyers ran into a dynasty in the Isles.

16. 1976-77 Sixers

50-32, lost NBA Finals (4-2) to Portland

Julius Erving's first season in the NBA (after playing in the ABA) propelled the Sixers to the Finals where they'd falter against Bill Walton's Blazers.

17. 2009-10 Flyers

41-35-6, lost Stanley Cup (4-2) to Chicago

The only Stanley Cup Claude Giroux ever appeared in, this team was perhaps the biggest underdog in a championship series in the history of the city, as they not only advanced to the finals as the 7-seed, but also came back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Bruins in the second round.

18. 1915 Phillies

90-62, lost World Series (4-1) to Boston

Pete Alexander went 31-10 with a 1.22 ERA and Gavvy Cravath hit 115 RBI as the Phils were the last team to lose a World Series to the Red Sox for nearly 100 years.

19. 1947 Eagles

8-4, lost to Chicago Cardinals in NFL Championship

Steve Van Buren had 1,000 yards and 13 TDs in 12 regular season games as the Birds made their first title appearance in team history in 1947.

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