5 Worst Bad Beats in Super Bowl Betting History
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No point spreads or over/under totals in sports are as scrutinized as the ones for Super Bowl betting. The line fluctuates and stews a full two weeks before kickoff.
And yet, there’s no escaping the bad beat. The Super Bowl has certainly not been impervious to the ridiculous and shocking that turns winning NFL betting tickets into losers — and vice versa.
With the Big Game looming in Tampa Bay on Feb. 7, let’s look back at the five worst beats in Super Bowl history, with a few honorable mentions thrown in.
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5. Super Bowl 5: Cowboys +2.5
The Colts-Cowboys matchup was tied 13-13 as Dallas was driving for a game-winning FG try. But a holding penalty pushed it back 15 yards (holding calls were changed to 10 yards three years later). The next play, a pass attempt, went through the hands of Dan Reeves and was picked off. Colts LB Mike Curtis returned it to the Cowboys’ 28-yard line. Two plays later, the Colts hit a 32-yard FG with eight seconds left.
The Colts missed an extra point after their first TD, otherwise they could have run out the clock on a 14-13 win rather than drive for a game-winning FG. That hurts.
The “Blunder Bowl” featured 11 turnovers and 164 yards in total penalties. The Colts had seven turnovers and still won. Cowboys LB Chuck Howley was named the game MVP, the only MVP of a losing team in game history.
4. Super Bowl 33: O/U 52.5 Points
The Denver Broncos averaged a whopping 33.3 ppg over the course of the 1998 regular season, the Atlanta Falcons averaged 27.6 ppg, fourth-most in the league. The Over/Under was set at 52.5 points, which at the time was the second-highest Super Bowl total ever.
But through three quarters, Denver held a tame 17-6 lead. The floodgates cracked wide open in the fourth.
The teams combined for 30 fourth-quarter points, most in Super Bowl history. It included a 97-yard kickoff return by Atlanta’s Tim Dwight and a fairly meaningless Falcons TD with 2:04 left to cut the team’s deficit from 21 points to 15. The Broncos won the game 34-19 and the Over cashed by a half-point.
3. Super Bowl 35: O/U 33
The Ravens-Giants matchup was expected to be a defensive affair. Ray Lewis and Baltimore allowed just 10.3 ppg in the regular season, the Giants just 15.4 ppg. The Over/Under of 33 points remains tied for the lowest in Super Bowl history and was the lowest for a title game since Super Bowl 9.
The defenses held strong to the very end. The same could not be said for the special teams.
Baltimore led just 10-0 at halftime. In the third quarter, in a span of 36 seconds, three TDs were scored — none by the offense.
Duane Starks picked off a Kerry Collins pass and returned it 47 yards for a TD to make it 17-0 Ravens. Immediately after, New York managed its only score — a 97-yard kickoff return for a TD by Ron Dixon. On the ensuing kick, the Ravens’ Jermaine Lewis returned it 84 yards for a score. A game with 10 points with 3:50 left in the third suddenly had 31 points on the board with 3:13 to go in the third.
The Ravens tacked on 10 points in the fourth quarter on scoring drives that went 38 and 18 yards. They allowed just 152 yards of offense by New York, forced five turnovers and had four sacks, and the Over still cashed.
2. Super Bowl 43: O/U 46 and First Half
The Under looked to be in good shape with the Steelers leading the Cardinals 20-14 with just three minutes left in the game.
But Pittsburgh was called for a holding penalty in its own end zone, giving Arizona two points plus the ball. Two plays later, Kurt Warner found Larry Fitzgerald on a 67-yard TD connection.
Not only was the total in peril, the Cardinals were winning.
But that didn’t last, either. Ben Roethlisberger found Santonio Holmes on a 6-yard TD with just 35 seconds to go, pushing the total Over.
That was the culmination of an entire game of bad beats. The first half ended on a crazy 100-yard INT return for a TD by lumbering LB James Harrison. When it came to first-half wagers, that play cashed the first half Over and Steelers -3. It doesn’t get more “bad beat” than that.
1. Super Bowl 51: Falcons +3 and O/U 57.5
No Super Bowl can match up when it comes to bad beats. The game is so infamous a score mention of “28-3” still rings familiar.
After a scoreless first quarter, Atlanta shocked New England with a three-TD outburst in the second quarter and built its lead to 28-3 midway through the third quarter. James White scored on a Tom Brady 5-yard connection later in the third before the Patriots outscored the Falcons 19-0 to force OT, including a White 1-yard TD run and a two-point conversion with 57 seconds left.
With 56 points at the end of regulation, that spelled the end for stunned Under backers. It gets worse: Falcons backers could have still covered with an Atlanta win or even pushed with a New England FG. But the Patriots scored a TD on the opening drive of extra time — again, White. New England won 34-28. They scored 31 straight points on five possessions, including two two-point conversions in the fourth quarter.
Not only is the 25-point deficit the biggest rally in Super Bowl history, it’s also the only Super Bowl to be decided in overtime.
Super Bowl 49: Seahawks +1
The Patriots took a 28-24 lead on the Seahawks with 2:02 left. But Seattle drove the ball thanks to a 33-yard completion to Jermaine Kearse, who tipped the ball to himself before being pushed out of bounds at the 5-yard line.
Marshawn Lynch ran it from there to the 1-yard line. Then with 26 seconds left and the Super Bowl on the line, the Seahawks elected to pass instead of handing off to the physical Lynch. Malcolm Butler got in front of Ricardo Lockette and intercepted the Russell Wilson pass. New England held on.
Super Bowl 25: O/U 40
“Wide Right.” Bills kicker Scott Norwood missed a 47-yard FG and the Giants ran out the clock for a 20-19 victory. It’s the only missed FG in Super Bowl history that resulted in a loss for the kicking team (the game was tied in all other instances).
Super Bowl: 34: Rams -7 and O/U 45
The Rams took a dramatic 23-16 lead on the Titans on a 73-yard TD pass from Kurt Warner to Isaac Bruce. But the Titans weren’t done — until the final play and final yard.
From the 10-yard line and with six seconds left, Steve McNair found WR Kevin Dyson, but Rams LB Mike Jones got a hold of his legs. Dyson’s lunge to the end zone came up less than a yard short. “The Tackle” became one of the more memorable plays in Super Bowl history, the Under cashed and Rams backers got a Push.
Super Bowl 10: O/U 36
The Steelers led the Cowboys just 10-7 going into the fourth quarter, but the teams combined for 21 points in the final frame, including two long TD passes in the final 3:02. Lynn Swann was unstoppable and Pittsburgh rallied to win 21-17, giving an unlikely win to Over backers.