Biggest comeback in history?

I've been noodling on this one. While like all Ticat fans I'm still smiling about Saturday's amazing 25 point comeback win over the evil Eskimos, I'm not sure that should be describing it as the biggest comeback in Ticat history, given the even more amazing 26 point comeback over the Argos in the second game of the 1986 two-game-total-point Eastern Final.

The argument that it is the biggest is due to the 1986 two game format. The argument against is that the Tiger-Cat 26 point comeback occurred within the second game.

What do you think?

Btw, for those who were not at second game of the the two-game-total-point 1986 Eastern Final at Exhibition Stadium (I was, along with the Argo fan who graciously pointed out this comeback to me on Twitter a couple of days ago) here is the story courtesy of the Toronto Sun Newspaper:

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I say the 2 game total point comeback because it took the team to the Grey Cup and on to the first win in 14 years!

Biggest comeback in Ti-cat "regular season" history. But that '86 game(s) was sure something special. I think the fact that it was against the Argos just made that comeback a little sweeter! :rockin:

As already mentioned, because it put us in the Grey Cup (which we then won in convincing fashion - I still remember (a young) Matt Dunigan trying to put his contact lens in on the sideline, but couldn't because his hand was shaking so much), 1986 is the bigger comeback.

In other words any win in November (overcoming the same point differential in both) is always more important than a win in July. This is why it must be considered the bigger comeback.


I voted for the 1986 win. It was a larger deficit to overcome, and was in a more critical sudden-death situation in a playoff game. The fact it was against the Argos and put us into the Grey Cup game (which we won) was a bonus.

This was the biggest single game comeback in Ticat history. But yes, the 1986 EDF was a bigger comeback - in a way bigger game.

As many have observed, the stakes in the '86 comeback were much higher.

Another thing about the '86 comeback is that the teams had a week to dwell on it. The lead going into the second game was "only" 14 points, but few people (at least outside the Cat lockeroom) seemed to be giving the Cats much of a chance. Things looked even more dire as Toronto stepped out to a 15-3 lead in the first quarter of the second game, but ultimately the Cats shocked everybody.

Just as they would go on to shock all the people who wrote them off heading into the Grey Cup game against Edmonton that year (though many in Hamilton realized after the East final comeback that anything was possible).

And it was such a beautiful thing to see Edmonton's net offense at halftime of that Grey Cup game: -1 yard.

Mathematically, you could argue that Saturday's comeback was "bigger" than the '86 East Final series because the Cats overcame the deficit in less game time (less than 2 quarters on Saturday versus more than 3 quarters in '86). But I don't think there are very many football fans who would choose to evaluate comebacks in terms of "deficit divided by time remaining".

That '86 season also holds a special place for me, because I had only started paying close attention to the CFL one year prior, so the '86 theatrics occured for me at a very impressionable time.

It doesn't really matter, what happened thirty years ago.

We won this one, in admirable fashion, and stoned them silly.

Most of the guys playing were still jumping from nut to nut at that date.

They, and the Coaching Staff "did it right", and full credit to them.

I'm sorry, I need to be that guy.

First off, one is a regular season game and the other is a playoff game. Records are kept separate for both regular season and playoffs, therefor arguing that the '86 game is a bigger comeback is irrelevant because it was a PLAYOFF game.

Second off, one was a single game the other was a playoff SERIES, which is a completely different species. While '86 series may well be the biggest comeback in among playoff SERIES (which is easy enough to check) it still wasn't with in a single game which is how these records are kept.

It doesn't matter if the stake were higher, because that's completely subjective and they don't keep subject records (otherwise we would have records like best hair - Wonderful Monds 1976).

So no matter how you slice it the July 23rd game against Edmonton was the biggest comeback in Tigers/Tiger-Cats regular season history, and no matter how much leaps of logic you make trying to justify your viewpoints...

ED, no one disputes that the July 23 game was the biggest comeback in Tiger-Cat regular season history. Clearly it was. But that wasn't the question. The question was whether it was the biggest comeback in Tiger-Cat history. Equally clearly, it was not.

The question didn't specify the biggest comeback in the regular season, or in a single game. It asked about the biggest comeback, period. No leaps of logic are required to conclude that a comeback from a 26 point deficit is larger than one from a 25 point deficit.

If one wishes to discount the larger deficit because it was during a two-game total point playoff instead of a single game, or plump for it because it was in a big playoff, that's OK. The poll actually invites people to vote based on those considerations.

I was thinking that the 1986 game was more impressive because we didn't just score 26+ straight points. The Argos made a game of it and continued to score 10 more points, meaning we had to score even more for the win. In fact we scored 39 more points after bottoming out at 26 down. In contrast, the 2016 Cats scored 31.

On the other hand, I could just as easily argue that 2016 was more impressive precisely because the defence shut the Esks down completely - not allowing a single point in the last 25 minutes.

Maybe I'm just easily impressed.

So if this is the biggest single-game comeback in Ticat history, what was the old record, and who was it against? (And if no one can answer those questions, how do we know this was the biggest?)

The old record was 21 points. 1973 Labour Day game against the B.C. Lions. The Lions jump out to a quick 21-0 lead early in the second quarter thanks to three rushing touchdowns by Lions RB Lou Harris. From that point on the 'Cats destroyed them with Garney Henley matching Harris by scoring three TD's and leading the 'Cats to a 44-24 victory. It was a very hot and humid night and I think the weather eventually took it's toll on the visiting Lions. How do I know? I was there and I remember that night very vividly.

Even if the league doesn't have full play-by-play statistics going back to 1958, I bet they have full "scoring play" statistics. Even if records of "biggest comeback" hadn't been formally kept on an ongoing basis, it would be easy to go back and calculate it if they've loaded timing for scoring plays (or even just sequence for scoring plays) into a relational database. That information isn't made available directly to the public though, as far as I know (there are play-by-play stats available from I think the early 2000s onward, but they aren't presented in a very tidy way).

Thanks. I was curious.

And I figured, given how confident everyone sounded saying it, that someone, somewhere had to have the records to back it up. It's just that I was surprised that no one mentioned what the previous record was or who it was against, etc., especially the TSN talking heads, who love to bring up stuff like this.

Way back in the early 60's there was a two game total pointer with Toronto, and Hamilton made a big come-back in that one, in the second of the two games, after being down after the first one. All I remember is that Tobin Rote was the QB in Toronto, and Bernie Faloney was still with Hamilton. Ti-Cats came back to tie the game and won it in overtime as I recall. A running back named Carver Shannon had a big play to either get the win or to tie the game, and Faloney a long run?

I believe it was played in Hamilton, but other than that, I don't recall any details. Must have been one of the years that Hamilton went on to Grey Cup, as I think the two game total pointers were always between the first place team and the winner of the second and third place teams?

Anyone recall that game or have a source to look up the details?

Yes Palmer, the game you are referring to was the 1961 Eastern Final. The Argos won the first game by a score of 25-7 and with the second game at Civic Stadium in Hamilton the Argos came out with the intent to play cautious and protect their 18 point lead. The 'Cats led 3-0 at halftime but became more aggressive as the game wore on and eventually tied the total score with a 20-2 lead. Late in the game, with the Argos deep in Ticat territory, Argo punter Dave Mann lined up to punt the winning single in the endzone. His punt was short and Don Sutherin, waiting in the endzone, booted the ball back out where Mann promptly punted it back. Bernie Faloney caught the return punt and returned it for a touchdown but it was called back due to a penalty for blocking on a punt return. The game then went into overtime where the 'Cats mauled the Argos 28-0 and won the round by a score of 55-27. The 'Cats then advanced to the Grey Cup where they lost to Winnipeg in the first overtime game in Grey Cup history.

Good recap! Thanks mightypope!

Here is a nice read on the 1961 game by Steve Milton:

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