The Bad Beat Bracket: Round of 32
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images. Pictured: Travis Kelce and the Cincinnati Bearcats after the 2012 Belk Bowl
Warning. This post contains lots of heartbreak.
We’re now down to the Round of 32 after you voted on each matchup on Twitter.
We acknowledge there’s some recency bias in the selections; fresh wounds still sting, and the Twitter Era has made it easier for these beats to surface.
You can check out the full bracket here.
What’s a bad beat? They come in many shapes and sizes, but it’s generally a bet that looked like a winner and ended up a loser thanks to some wild series of events.
Over the next few weeks, you can cast your votes on Twitter to determine the worst beat of all-time.
Some of these atrocities will look familiar, and some you probably haven’t heard of. So we explained all remaining 32 below with videos. Here are explanations of all 64 originally in the bracket.
1. Falcons vs. Patriots, Super Bowl 51
- The Line: Falcons +4.5
- The Final: Patriots 34, Falcons 28
- The Heartbreak: Everything
This game needs little introduction.
If you’re a Falcons fan, you still can’t believe they blew a 28-3 lead and lost Super Bowl 51. If you bet the Falcons that day, you still can’t believe they didn’t cover as 4.5-point underdogs.
9. Pat Mahomes Rushing Yards, Super Bowl 54
- The Line: 29.5 to 35.5
- The Final: 29 yards
- The Heartbreak: The Longest Kneel Downs Ever
Some would say the best part about betting overs is that you’re never truly dead. But in the case of quarterback rushing yard props, the inverse is true.
Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes racked up 44 rushing yards through the first 59 minutes of Super Bowl 54. Even with three-straight kneel downs, almost anyone who bet his rushing yards over would be safe.
But Mahomes — maybe out of sheer excitement, or maybe to be extra cautious — instead took losses of 3, 5 and 7 yards on his kneel downs, knocking his total back to 29 to go under by a half yard for even folks who got the best of the number.
4. Falcons vs. 49ers Total, 2019
- The Line: 49
- The Final: Falcons 29, 49ers 22
- The Heartbreak: 14 Points in 2 Seconds
It took a lot of good fortune and a few San Fran penalties for Atlanta just to score a touchdown with two seconds left and convert the 2-point conversion to take the lead. Then this happened…
5. Bills vs. Patriots, 1998
- The Line: Bills +3.5
- The Final: Patriots 25, Bills 21
- The Heartbreak: The 11 vs. 0 Conversion
This might be the most unique football beat in the bracket.
As a Bills +3.5 ticket holder, you were safe no matter what with Buffalo leading 21-17 with just seconds left.
The officials called pass interference on Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe’s Hail Mary attempt as time expired, giving the Pats an untimed down from the 1-yard line. They scored to go up 23-21. And still, you were safe.
But in frustration, the Bills walked off the field, leaving 11 Patriots against zero Bills players for the extra point. Instead of kicking the PAT, Adam Vinatieri just ran it in for two points and New England won 25-21, covering -3.5.
3. The Fail Mary
- The Line: Packers -3
- The Final: Seahawks 14, Packers 12
- The Heartbreak: Replacement Refs
One replacement ref ruled the play a touchdown. The other ruled the play an interception. After review … I still don’t think they know yet.
Trailing 12-7 with no time left, Russell Wilson chucked up a Hail Mary that appeared to be intercepted, but the replacement refs ruled simultaneous possession and awarded it to Seattle, so the Seahawks won and covered.
6. The Music City Miracle
- The Line: Titans -5
- The Final: Titans 22, Bills 16
- The Heartbreak: The Music City Miracle
A moment like this transcends gambling, but it was a brutal beat for anyone with Bills +5 in the 1999 AFC Wild Card Game against the Titans.
The kick return for a touchdown not only gave Tennessee the win en route to a Super Bowl appearance, but got the Titans a cover, too.
2. Browns vs. Bears, 2001
- The Line: Browns +4.5
- The Final: Bears 27, Browns 21
- The Heartbreak: Pick-Six in OT
I can’t believe it took us this long to find a Browns bad beat, but here it is.
The Browns (+4.5) led 21-7 win 32 seconds left. They gave up a touchdown, onside kick, and tipped Hail Mary to send the game to overtime.
In 2001, you needed just a field goal to win in overtime, so Browns bettors still felt safe. Then Tim Couch had a pass tipped at the line, intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
7. Chiefs vs. Redskins, 2017
- The Line: Chiefs -7, Over/Under 48.5
- The Final: Chiefs 29, Redskins 20
- The Heartbreak: So. Many. Fumbles
The Redskins had three chances to just call it quits on this lateral play with no time remaining, but they refused. And as you can expect, it cost anyone who bet on them.
1. Duke vs. UConn, 2004 Final Four
- The Line: UConn -2.5
- The Final: UConn 79, Duke 78
- The Heartbreak: Duhon’s Bankshot
UConn had effectively wrapped up the 2004 Final Four game with a free throw to go up 79-75 with 3.2 seconds left.
Then, Chris Duhon launched one from 38-feet off one leg and banked it in, covering +2.5 for Duke bettors.
9. St. Bonaventure vs. VCU, 2017
- The Line: Bonnies +1.5
- The Final: VCU 83, St. Bonaventure 77
- The Heartbreak: The Court Storm
If you’re going to storm the court, make sure you wait until the clock hits zero.
St. Bonaventure ended up losing this game in overtime after a go-ahead 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds left. The Bonnies received a technical foul, and VCU converted the foul shot to send the game to overtime, where the Rams won by six.
4. Duke vs. Utah, 2015 Tournament
- The Line: Duke -5
- The Final: Duke 63, Utah 57
- The Heartbreak: The Foul
Utah had already walked off the court after a 5-point loss to Duke, when officials decided that they had called a foul with 0.7 seconds left.
It was a foul, but you could also argue Utah forced a jump ball seconds earlier that wasn’t called.
5. Penn State vs. Duquesne, 2018
- The Line: Duquesne +5.5
- The Final: 73-67
- The Heartbreak: The free throws
Penn State got fouled with 5.2 seconds left, causing Duquesne coach Keith Dambrot to lose his damn mind. He received two technicals, giving the Nittany Lions four additional free throws.
Penn State was just 11 of 20 at the free throw line before this, but of course hit all six.
Oh, yeah. The line was +5.5.
3. Iona vs. Manhattan, 2013 MAAC Title
- The Line: Iona -4
- The Final: Iona 60, Manhattan 57
- The Heartbreak: 5 Points, 1 Second
Iona (-4) was cruising to a win and cover in the 2012 MAAC Championship Game. The Gaels led by eight points with six seconds left. Then disaster struck.
Manhattan hit a three as time expired, but officials ruled there was still time on the clock, so Iona received a technical foul when its bench rushed the court.
The Jaspers hit both free throws and covered +4.
11. T’Wolves vs. Thunder, 2019
- The Line: T’Wolves +3.5
- The Final: Thunder 139, T’Wolves 127
- The Heartbreak: The Untucked Shirt
A miracle full-court heave isn’t even the worst part of this beat.
After Karl-Anthony Towns missed a free throw with 1.1 seconds left, leading 121-119, OKC’s Chris Paul called out Minnesota’s Jordan Bell for not having his jersey tucked in. That resulted in a technical free throw for the Thunder, which Danilo Gallinari made to make it 121-120.
Towns then approached the line for his second free throw, and all he had to do was miss since OKC had no timeouts. But he made it. Then this happened before the Thunder won by 12 in overtime …
2. Warriors vs. Clippers, 2016
- The Line: Warriors -3.5
- The Final: Warriors 115, Clippers 112
- The Heartbreak: The meltdown
During their historic 2016 season, the Warriors covered a lot of games. Not this one.
The Clippers outscored Golden State 10-0 in the final 60 seconds to lose by the hook.
7. Raptors vs. Wizards, 2007
- The Line: Wizards +4.5
- The Final: Raptors 123, Wizards 118
- The Heartbreak: The heave
How do you run out the clock in a basketball game? Heave the ball into the air. Just make sure there are more than 2.5 seconds left.
The Wizards’ Michael Ruffin did just that against the Raptors in 2007, and Mo Peterson caught it and fired in almost one awkward motion to tie the game at 109 and send it to overtime.
Of course, Toronto won by five in OT to cover -4.5.
College Football Region
1. Belk Bowl, 2012
- The Line: Cincinnati -9
- The Final: Cincy 48, Duke 34
- The Heartbreak: Goal line fumble, 83-yard TD, Pick-Six
Belk is no longer sponsoring this bowl after the 2019 edition, which will be a welcome change for anyone who was on Duke in the 2012 game. You never have to hear the words “Belk Bowl” again. After this.
Tied 34-34, Duke (+9) was inside Cincy’s 5-yard line with less than two minutes to play. There’s not even a chance Duke doesn’t cover in bettors minds. But the Blue Devils fumbled. Still, you feel great about +9.
Cincinnati QB Brendon Kay then threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Travis Kelce to go up 41-34 with 44 seconds left. Still, at +9, you feel good.
But then, Duke quarterback Sean Renfree got hit as he threw with less than 20 seconds left, and Cincy picked it off and returned it for a touchdown.
9. Florida Atlantic vs. Marshall, 2017
- The Line: FAU -6
- The Final: FAU 30, Marshall 25
- The Heartbreak: Intentional Safety
Another intentional safety, this time from the 24-yard line.
Lane Kiffin even acknowledged tipping the point spread after the game, though he later said it was a joke.
4. Ohio State vs. Northwestern, 2013
- The Line: Ohio State -6.5
- The Final: Ohio State 40, Northwestern 30
- The Heartbreak: The Hook and Ladder
You might remember this one for Brent Musburger’s infamous call:
“And you know what, there are some folks that are celebrating, and others who are saying, ‘you’ve got to be kidding me.'”
What you might not remember is that Northwestern, 93 yards from Ohio State’s end zone, spiked the ball with five seconds left to run the play that ultimately led to a horrific beat.
5. Stanford vs. UCLA, 2016
- The Line: UCLA +3.5
- The Final: Stanford 22, UCLA 13
- The Heartbreak: The Strip Sack
Josh Rosen danced around in the pocket a little too long, and was eventually strip sacked. Stanford returned it for a touchdown.
3. Bahamas Bowl, 2014
- The Line: WKU -2.5
- The Final: WKU 49, Central Michigan 48
- The Heartbreak: The Hail Mary & Lateral
Central Michigan erased a 49-14 deficit in the fourth quarter and got inside the number on this absurd Hail Mary and ensuing lateral.
But instead of kicking the extra point and giving WKU (-3.5) backers a chance to cover in overtime, CMU went for two, and missed. What a waste of a comeback.
11. Prayer at Jordan Hare, 2013
- The Line: Georgia +3.5
- The Final: Auburn 43, Georgia 38
- The Heartbreak: The Tipped Pass TD
Auburn’s run to the 2013 national title game should have ended right here. But instead, two Georgia safeties collided, allowing Nick Marshall’s pass on fourth-and-18 to fall into the hands of Ricardo Lewis, giving the Tigers a win and cover as 3.5-point favorites.
2. USC vs. Arizona State, 1996
- The Line: USC +7
- The Final: Arizona State 48, USC 35
- The Heartbreak: Strip six in overtime
This was the first year of college football overtime, and the first OT game to end in a double-digit win when Arizona State scooped and scored what looked like an incomplete pass to win by 13.
Unfortunately for USC bettors, the Trojans were +7.
7. Stanford vs. Northwestern, 2019
- The Line: Northwestern +6.5
- The Final: Stanford 17, Northwestern 7
- The Heartbreak: Strip Six
Stanford has been on the fortunate end of many of these beats, and got another one here with a strip sack and score. The worst part is a Northwestern offensive lineman fell right over the ball and missed it — a safety would’ve kept Northwestern inside the number.
Other Sports Region
1. Mariners vs. White Sox Total, 2013
- The Line: Over/Under 7
- The Final: White Sox 7, Mariners 5
- The Heartbreak: 0-0 Entering Extras
The White Sox and Mariners played 13 scoreless innings on June 5, 2013. And then chaos ensued.
Chicago scored five runs in the top of the 14th and led 5-1 with two outs in the bottom of the frame, but Seattle answered with a Kyle Seager grand slam on a 1-2 count.
The Sox ended up winning 7-5.
9. Maximum Security, 2019 Kentucky Derby
- The Line: Maximum Security 9-2
- The Final: Country House 65-1
- The Heartbreak: Long Review DQ
The connections for War of Will, which didn’t factor into the 2019 Derby finished, challenged the result. They argued that winner Maximum Security impeded their horse’s progress earlier in the race.
You’ll get varying opinions on the call. My (uneducated) opinion has always been that the call was right by the book, but that officials never would’ve overturned it in a run of the mill race.
12. British Open 1999
- The Line: Jean Van de Velde 200-1
- The Final: Paul Lawrie wins
- The Heartbreak: Socks and Shoes
Longshot Jean Van de Velde took a three-shot lead into the final hole of the 1999 British Open. Then disaster struck.
He pushed his drive, then tried to reach the green with a 2-iron, and his ball hit a railing on the grandstand and landed in deep rough. He again tried to reach the green and instead ended up in the water.
He removed his shoes and socks, rolled up his pant legs, then decided against the effort and took a drop. He then hit into a greenside bunker and splashed out to 6 feet. After that debacle, he holed the ensuing putt for a triple bogey to get to a playoff.
But with his nerves shattered, he lost the playoff to Paul Lawrie.
13. Sharks vs. Avalanche, 2010 Playoffs
- The Line: Sharks -130
- The Final: Avs 1, Sharks 0
- The Heartbreak: The Own Goal
The Sharks outshot the Avalanche 50-16 in regulation, but had nothing to show for it. It went to overtime tied 0-0.
Then, Dan Boyle put the puck in his own net while trying to sweep it back around to his defensive partner.
3. Sharks vs. Golden Knights, 2019 Playoffs
- The Line: Knights -105
- The Final: Sharks 5, Knights 4
- The Heartbreak: The Cross Check
With Vegas up 3-0 with 11 minutes left, Cody Eakins was inexplicably given a major for cross-checking Joe Pavelski off a faceoff.
San Jose scored four goals on that 5-minute powerplay (major penalties don’t end if a goal is scored), and eventually won it in overtime after the Knights tied it 4-4 with 47 seconds left in regulation.
6. Mets vs. Nationals, 2019
- The Line: Mets +120
- The Final: Nationals 11, Mets 10
- The Heartbreak: It’s the Mets, Remember?
Already leading 5-4, the Mets added five runs in the top of the ninth to go up 10-4.
Then Washington stormed back to score seven in the bottom of the ninth to win 11-10.
2. Mets vs. Braves, 1999 NLCS
- The Line: Over/Under 7.5
- The Final: Mets 4, Braves 3
- The Heartbreak: The Grand Slam Single
Robin Ventura smoked a grand slam to right field to give the Mets a 7-3 win in Game 5 of the 1999 NLCS.
But Todd Pratt, the runner on second, mobbed Ventura before he could finish rounding the bases. So the home run was officially ruled a single, and only one runner had crossed the plate.
That meant the game finished with seven runs, falling just short of the total.
10. Indians vs. Mariners, 2001
- The Line: N/A
- The Final: Indians 15, Mariners 14
- The Heartbreak: The Streak
The Indians became the first team in the last 75 years to erase a 12-run deficit, winning 15-14 after trailing 14-2 in the seventh.