But How’d They Do Before (And After) They Set the Record?

Do remarkable sports achievements exist in a vacuum?

The Buffalo Bills

279px-Buffalo_Bills_logo.svgThe Bills are the only team to ever make it to four consecutive Super Bowls. However, that achievement is overshadowed by the fact that the Bills also lost all four of those Super Bowls. Only the first one was close, with the Bills losing 20-19 to the New York Giants on a late field goal. But four years in a row from 1990 to 1993, the Bills posted great records (13-3, 13-3, 11-5, and 12-4), then easily defeated every opponent in the playoffs, up until the Super Bowl. The year before the streak, in 1989, the Bills posted a 9-7 record and lost in the first round of the playoffs. The year after the streak, they missed the playoffs entirely. The Bills haven’t been back to a Super Bowl since the streak, and haven’t even made the playoffs since 1999.

Wilt Chamberlain

Wilt Chamberlain posted a record that will probably never fall—on March 3, 1962, he scored 100 points in a single game, leading the Philadelphia Warriors to a 169 to 147 win over the New York Knicks. Chamberlain was already a tremendous offensive player. The 100-point game came in his third season—in his first season he scored an average of 37.6 points per game, a record, and in his second season, scored 38.4 points a game, beating his own record. And just three months earlier, Chamberlain had scored 78 points in a game—which had been the record. In the games immediately before and after he scored 100 points, Chamberlain scored a whopping 58 and 61 points, respectively.

Joe DiMaggio

From May 15, 1941 through July 16, 1941, the New York Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio got a hit in 56 consecutive games, a record. It shattered George Sisler’s previous record of 41 games, but consistency was nothing new for DiMaggio. In 1941, DiMaggio was playing in his sixth season, and it was the sixth season he’d been voted to the All-Star Team. He’d already won the World Series four times. In the 1941 season, just prior to the streak, DiMaggio had gone hitless in two games. A few weeks before that, he’d equaled his own record for most games without a hit—a paltry three. On the whole, DiMaggio was already having an excellent season before the 56-game streak, amassing 33 hits in just 28 games.