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Ranking the 10 Greatest Winning Streaks in Sports History

| February 27, 2022 10:00 am PDT
different sport balls in background, celtics basketball player, ucla basketball player

We judge a lot of great teams and athletes by their championships. But what about the ones that put together a historic winning streak? They deserve some praise as well.

Most of these streaks are record-breaking and it’s fair to wonder if anyone will ever top them. Let’s look at some of the longest winning streaks in sports, while ranking the top 10.

10. Cleveland Indians 22 Game Win Streak (2017)

When you look at the record books, you’ll see the New York Giants 26 game win streak rank ahead of the Cleveland Indians. However, that streak featured a pair of ties. The Indians’ 22 straight victories is the MLB record.

On August 23, the Indians dropped a game to the Boston Red Sox. That would be their final loss until September 15.

Cleveland won that final game of that series, then went on to sweep their next six opponents. And truthfully, not many games were close. Of their 22 wins, nine of them were decided by five runs or more.

When you have a long win streak like that, everything needs to go right. That’s exactly what happened for Cleveland.

Check out a few of their numbers.

  • .306 batting average
  • .385 on-base percentage
  • .552 slugging percentage
  • 1.58 team ERA

Perhaps the most impressive part was their ability to play from ahead. The Indians played nearly 200 innings in the win streak, and trailed after just eight of those.

The win streak earned them an AL-best 102-60 record. The 102 wins marked their second-highest total in franchise history.

9. New England Patriots 21 Game Win Streak (2003-2004)

When it comes to win streaks for the New England Patriots, everyone remembers their 18-0 start to the 2007 season. Of course, they fell short of the perfect season in the Super Bowl. However, they remain the best team to never win the Super Bowl.

A few years before that, the Patriots had an even longer win streak that spanned across two seasons.

After starting the 2003 season 2-2, New England rattled off 12 straight wins to enter the postseason 14-2. New England went on to win their second Super Bowl in three seasons on a last-second field goal. They took a 15-game win streak into the 2004 season.

New England opened the season with six straight wins. On Halloween, the Patriots win streak finally came to an end. Rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Patriots 34-20.

With Brady, the Patriots offense is always going to receive a lot of recognition. However, their defense stole the show in both seasons.

  • 2003: Points Per Game: 14.9 (1st)
  • 2004: Points Per Game: 16.3 (2nd)

The Patriots went on to lose just one more game in 2004. They got their revenge on Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game and won their third Super Bowl in four seasons.

8. Oklahoma College Football 47 Game Win Streak (1953-1957)

The Oklahoma Sooners opened the 1953 season with a loss to No. 1 ranked Notre Dame and a tie against Pittsburgh. From there, it was nothing but wins, giving us one of the greatest winning streaks in sports history.

Oklahoma went on to beat No. 1 Maryland in the 1954 Orange Bowl. The Sooners allowed seven points or less in seven of their nine wins that season. The following season, Oklahoma went 10-0 with three wins over ranked opponents.

In 1955, the Sooners once again went undefeated and beat Maryland in the Orange Bowl. Over their final five games, they allowed a combined six points.

I’m not sure why but the Sooners somehow fell from No. 1 to No. 2 in the 1956 season. It only lasted for a week though, as they reclaimed the top spot after beating Notre Dame 40-0.

The following season, the inevitable finally happened. Oklahoma lost at the hands of Notre Dame. Their defense shined but their offense couldn’t muster a single point in a 7-0 loss.

Among the 47 wins, only eight of them were decided by seven points or less.

Oklahoma was unstoppable during the mid-1950s. I don’t know how you could beat a team that scored 40 points a game and held teams under seven?

7. Jimmie Johnson Five Straight Championships (2006-2010)

I don’t think people can underestimate how impressive Jimmie Johnson’s championship run was. It’s hard to win just one NASCAR Cup Series championship, but how about five, and in a row!

Johnson dealt with some adversity at the beginning of the 2006 playoffs. However, he finished top two in five of the final six races to capture the title.

The following season, he had a ferocious battle with teammate Jeff Gordon. When it mattered most, Johnson won four consecutive races to steal the championship from Gordon. Johnson’s 10 wins that season marked a career high.

In 2008, Johnson had another tight battle but this time, it was with Carl Edwards. Johnson’s three wins in the 10 playoff races earned him his third straight title. That tied Carl Yarborough’s mark from 1976-1978.

From there, Johnson went on to win his fourth and fifth straight title. He won four races in the 2009 playoffs and finished the job with consistency in 2010. The drive for five was complete.

Just to put things into perspective, no other driver has won more than three consecutive championships. Johnson is one of three drivers to win more than four championships in his career.

Johnson was basically unstoppable in the late 2000s. The run is why many fans considered him the G.O.A.T.

You probably don’t think of NASCAR drivers when considering the best winning streaks in sports history, but I’d say Johnson has carved out a place on this list.

6. Los Angeles Lakers 33 Game Win Streak (1971-72)

The Los Angeles Lakers have had a lot of great seasons in their franchise history. It’s fair to say the 1971-72 season was the best.

Los Angeles began the season 4-0 but dropped three of their next five games. That gave them a 6-3 record on October 31. The Lakers didn’t lose another game in 1971.

They kicked off the win streak with a four-point victory over the Baltimore Bullets. That turned out to be their closest game over the following two months. Los Angeles won 23 of their 33 games by double digits.

Future Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar put an end to the win streak with this great performance.

  • 39 points
  • 20 rebounds
  • 5 assists
  • 52.9 field goal percentage

The Milwaukee Bucks were the Lakers biggest competition that season. Therefore, it makes sense they were the ones to end the historic streak.

Even so, it wasn’t all bad for the Lakers. They finished the season with a then NBA record 69 wins. Los Angeles went on to win the championship.

In 2012-13, the Lebron James led Miami Heat nearly matched the win streak, but they fell short at 27 games.

5. Byron Nelson 11 Tournament Win Streak (1945)

Byron Nelson’s streak of winning 11 straight tournaments on the PGA Tour is a record that will likely never be broken.

Nelson kicked off the streak by winning a team event. His first individual win came at the Charlotte Open in a playoff over Sam Snead. Nelson went on to win the following four tournaments in convincing fashion. Three of those came by at least eight strokes.

In the middle of the streak came the 1945 PGA Championship. Because of World War II, that was the only major played that season, and it came in a match play format. Nelson went on to defeat Sam Byrd 4 & 3.

Following the PGA Championship, Nelson had an 11-stroke win at the All American Open. His final victory of the streak came the following week at the Canadian Open.

The streak came to an end with a fourth-place finish at the Memphis Invitational.

If you want to see how impressive his streak is, check out how many golfers have won at least 11 PGA tournaments in a season.

  • 1945: Byron Nelson: 18 wins
  • 1946: Ben Hogan: 13 wins
  • 1950: Sam Snead: 11 wins

Only three times it has happened in PGA Tour history. Imagine a golfer accomplishing it and winning all 11 consecutively.

4. UConn Women’s Basketball 111 Game Win Streak (2014-2017)

The UConn women’s basketball team is no stranger to long winning streaks. They had a 70-game winning streak from 2001-2003, and a 90-game streak from 2008-2010. Those streaks were impressive, but they were nothing in comparison to this streak.

UConn dropped their second game of the 2014-15 season to Stanford. UConn went on to win the remainder of their games to claim their third straight National Championship.

There was never much of a doubt in 2015-16. UConn won all 38 of their games by double digits. They became the first school in DI women’s basketball to win four straight titles.

Florida State gave UConn a scare to start the 2016-17 season, but UConn hung on for the two-point victory. They went on to defeat nine more ranked teams in the regular season.

In the Final Four, Mississippi State pulled off a shocking upset on a buzzer-beater to end UConn’s win streak at 111.

There have been quite a few long win streaks in women’s college basketball but no one dominates like UConn.

  • UConn: 111 wins
  • UConn: 90 wins
  • Washington U: 81 wins
  • Ashland: 73 wins
  • UConn: 70 wins

Who knows? Maybe they’ll have another great team that can top this streak.

3. De La Salle 151 Game Win Streak (1992-2003)

De La Salle is a high school in the San Francisco area. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, they terrorized opposing high schools.

Their win streak began with a 34-14 victory over Merced. From there, it was nothing but victories. In 13 game seasons, they were putting up over 600 points, while allowing right around 120.

In 1996, De La Salle scored 594 points and allowed just 53 points. They shut out over half their opponents.

There isn’t much other to say than the wins just kept coming. Honestly, none of the games were that close.

The 2003 season marked their final undefeated season within the streak. They averaged 40.8 points and allowed five points per game, with six shutouts.

De La Salle’s win streak finally came to an end with a loss in the 2004 season opener. Future NFL players Amani Toomer and Maurice Jones-Drew played a role in the streak.

This win streak spanned across 12 seasons. Just think about how impressive that is. Most wins streaks are one year with the same group of players. This one had a ton of moving pieces.

It was so good that they made a movie out of it.

2. Boston Celtics Eight Straight Championships (1959-1966)

The Boston Celtics had quite the dynasty from 1959-1966. Boston already had an NBA Title in 1957 but lost the following season in the NBA Finals. That’s the last time we’d see someone other than the Celtics win the title for quite a while.

During this era, there were only eight teams in the league. The winner of each division advanced straight to the Division Final.

Surprisingly, Boston had a few tough battles in the Division Final. In their first five championships, only once did they have a Division Final go less than six games. In the NBA Finals, the Celtics defeated the Minneapolis Lakers and Atlanta Hawks.

The 1964 playoffs were a little easier for Boston, as they won both series 4-1. This was also the first time in the streak they didn’t play the Lakers or Hawks in the NBA Finals.

For the first time in the streak, Boston didn’t earn a first-round bye. Nonetheless, they went on to beat the Lakers in the 1966 NBA Finals. In 1967, the Philadelphia 76ers beat the Celtics in the Division Final.

Within the streak, Bill Russell won four MVPs. Check out his postseason numbers during the streak.

  • 18.1 points
  • 26.6 rebounds

Those numbers speak for themselves.

1. UCLA Men’s Basketball 88 Game Win Streak (1971-1974)

With all due respect to the other teams and individuals on this list, they were all battling for second. Nothing was topping UCLA’s 88 game win streak.

John Wooden’s UCLA Bruins were a powerhouse in the 1960s. They won five championships in six seasons. Needless to say, that success carried over to the 1970s.

UCLA lost on the road against No. 9 Notre Dame on January 23, 1971. That was their final loss in nearly three years.

The following season, UCLA went undefeated and outscored their opponents by 30.3 points per game. They defeated Florida State to win yet another championship.

While perhaps not as dominant, UCLA went undefeated in 1972-73. They had some trouble in the National Championship, but they pulled through with an all-time performance by Bill Walton.

  • 44 points
  • 13 rebounds
  • 2 assists
  • 21-22 field goal shooting

UCLA’s streak finally came to an end at the hands of Notre Dame. The one-point loss ended the streak at 88 games. Their streak of seven consecutive championships also came to an end with a loss in the Final Four.

Similar to De La Salle, a streak like this is so impressive because of all the different players. Wooden’s leadership is what made it possible.

Other Impressive Winning Streaks in Sports

  • Pittsburgh Penguins 26 Game Win Streak (1992-93)
  • Richard Petty 10 Race Win Streak (1972)

The Pittsburgh Penguins win streak is something out of a movie. Star player Mario Lemieux returned from treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma to lead Pittsburgh on an NHL record 17 game win streak.

Richard Petty has a NASCAR Cup Series record 200 wins. In 1972, he scored 27 wins, including 10 straight. Just to put that into perspective, only six times has a driver won four straight Cup Series races. Even if you double that, it wouldn’t be enough to match Petty.

Long win streaks are very difficult to achieve. These teams and individuals defied the odds and pulled off the improbable.

I bet the odds for these streaks were very high. At times, if a streak is at risk of being broken, sportsbooks will offer a prop. If and when that happens, be sure to use the best sites for betting on sports to place your bets.

Nicholas Sterling

Nicholas has been a Sports Writer with GamblingSites.com since May 2021. He has a rich sports background, writing about NASCAR, NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, Golf, etc. Nick is always ready for a new challenge.

He enjoys rooting on D.C. sports teams, including the Commanders, Wizards, and Capitals.

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