The 10 Worst Betting Bad Beats in Super Bowl History
Dan Powers-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
- Ending your night or week with a bad beat is obviously frustrating. But ending the season on a bad beat? That's a pain no sports fan ever wants to endure.
- Here's a look back at the 10 worst betting bad beats in Super Bowl history.
Nobody should have to suffer through a horrible bad beat on the final football game of the season, but the gambling gods are not benevolent gods. We have seen plenty of terrible beats in the previous 52 Super Bowls — some of which involved the Patriots and Rams, the two teams left standing this year.
Last year, I highlighted the five cruelest bad beats in Super Bowl history, but I wanted to dig a little deeper this year and come up with the 10 worst. Let’s get into the final 10 in chronological order and hope we don’t have to add Super Bowl 53 to this list next year.
Super Bowl V: Cowboys (+2.5) vs. Colts
Blunder Bowl (Miami, 1971)
The then Baltimore Colts faced the Cowboys in the first Super Bowl played after the NFL/AFL merger (and the first on artificial turf). It turned out to be an absolute disaster, hence the nickname “The Blunder Bowl.”
The Cowboys led 13-6 at the half against a Colts team that lost quarterback Johnny Unitas to injury in the second quarter. The Colts’ only touchdown in the first half came on a lucky, deflected 75-yard touchdown pass.
The third quarter featured a comedy of errors from the Cowboys, highlighted by:
- Losing a fumble at the 1-yard line, although in controversial fashion as a Dallas player clearly came out of the pile with the ball.
- And when the Colts came up short on a 52-yard field goal attempt, the Cowboys didn’t try to advance the ball. It somehow landed inside the 1-yard line, which is where the Cowboys took over possession.
(If that last sequence sounds confusing, the NFL changed the rule in 1974.)
After the Colts turned it over on their first two possessions of the fourth quarter, things only got worse for Dallas.
The Colts tied the game with a 3-yard touchdown drive after picking off Cowboys quarterback Craig Morton. Dallas found itself tied with the ball in Baltimore territory with under two minutes left.
But the Cowboys moved backwards with penalties. And on second-and-35, Morton threw another pick (he had three in the quarter), setting up the Colts in field goal range.
The Colts then kicked the game-winning field goal with five seconds left to take their first lead of the game.
What makes it worse is the Cowboys still could have covered if the Colts didn’t miss the extra point on their first touchdown. That ultimately forced them to kick the field goal for the win (and cover by the hook).
The Colts played so poorly that Cowboys linebacker Chuck Howley actually won MVP. To this day, he remains the only losing player to win Super Bowl MVP. Colts defensive end Bubba Smith has also refused to wear his ring given how sloppy Baltimore played. Yet, they still managed to cover -2.5.
Some other reasons why this game got the nickname “The Blunder Bowl.”
- 11 combined turnovers (Super Bowl record)
- Colts had seven turnovers (most by a Super Bowl winner)
- Cowboys had 133 penalty yards (Super Bowl record)
Check out the highlights of the hilarity below:
Super Bowl XIV: Rams (+11) vs Steelers
Classic Front door (Pasadena, 1980)
In a game with a Super Bowl record seven lead changes — Rams +11 backers didn’t get to the window — even though Los Angeles led at the end of each of the first three quarters.
In the fourth quarter, quarterback Terry Bradshaw took advantage of a blown assignment in the Rams’ secondary on third-and-8, hitting John Stallworth for a 73-yard touchdown to give the Steelers a 24-19 lead.
The Rams then drove into Pittsburgh territory with just over five minutes left. However, quarterback Vince Ferragamo threw a critical interception.
On the ensuing drive, the Steelers drove down to the Rams 1-yard line, aided by a 45-yard completion to Stallworth on third-and-7 (and a defensive pass interference call).
The betting drama increased after the Rams stuffed Pitt on first and second downs.
But then Franco Harris tumbled into the end zone on third down to give the Steelers their largest lead of the game (12).
The Rams turned it over on downs in Steelers territory on their final drive with under a minute remaining. Pittsburgh somehow pulled out a 31-19 victory, covering by a single point. Oh, and did I mention the Rams missed an extra point in the third quarter?
Super Bowl XV: Eagles/Raiders Over 37.5
Hooked (New Orleans, 1981)
The Raiders easily defeated the Eagles in this Super Bowl by a score of 27-10, which meant over 37.5 bettors lost by the hook.
What makes this loss so excruciating is the two missed field goals in the first half, including a 28-yarder by Eagles kicker Tony Franklin right before halftime. That miss by Franklin also cost first-half over (19) bettors a win, as the Raiders took a 14-3 lead into the half.
Even with the first half field goal misses, there were still 34 total points at the beginning of the fourth quarter after Ron Jaworski connected with Keith Krepfle to cut the Raiders lead to 24-10.
Over bettors needed just four more points, but they only got three. Here’s how the rest of the game played out:
- After a long drive stalled inside the red zone, a Raiders field goal made it 27-10
- Eagles drove into Raiders territory, but Jaworski lost a fumble
- Raiders punt
- Eagles drove to midfield, but Jaworski threw an interception
- Starting at the Eagles 38-yard line, the Raiders ran six straight times to run out the clock, converting on both third downs. They would end the game after converting the latter inside the Eagles 20
27-10 final. Hooked.
Super Bowl XXV: Bills/Giants Over 40.5
Wide Right (Tampa, 1991)
Obviously Bills fans are still jaded about Scott Norwood’s game-winning 47-yard field goal attempt in Super Bowl 25, but don’t forget about those who bet under 40.5 back in 1991.
As a result of Norwood’s miss, the Giants held on for a thrilling 20-19 Super Bowl victory.
Over bettors ultimately missed cashing their tickets by 1.5 points. Not only did Norwood’s miss sting, but the game also had field goal makes of 21, 23 and 28. Turning just one of those chip shot field goals into a touchdown would have almost certainly put the game over.
Super Bowl XXXIII: Falcons/Broncos Under 52.5
Fourth Quarter Frenzy (Miami, 1999)
Since it’s the 20th anniversary of this Super Bowl, this bad beat deserved its own separate column (see below).
The short version: With the Broncos leading 17-6 headed into the fourth quarter, under backers had 29 points to spare. The two teams combined to score 30 in 15 minutes.
Super Bowl XXXIV: Titans +7 (vs. Rams)
One Yard Short (Atlanta, 2000)
Let’s take a trip down memory lane to when the Rams last won the Super Bowl (also in Atlanta). This game caused great anxiety for anybody that wagered on the side or total.
This turned out to be one of the most exciting Super Bowls ever, but it actually had a very boring first half. The Rams took a 9-0 lead into intermission after three field goals by Jeff Wilkins.
The high-flying Rams finally found the end zone in the third quarter when Kurt Warner found Torry Holt to extend their lead to 16-0 (the Rams should’ve gone for two, but that’s a discussion for another day).
Just when everyone thought we had a blowout on our hands, the Titans came storming back. After two Eddie George touchdowns (and one failed conversion), an Al Del Greco field goal tied the game at 16 with a little more than two minutes remaining.
Titans (+7) bettors all of the sudden had to feel like they had a miracle winner, but on the first play of the next drive: Kurt Warner hit Isaac Bruce for a 73-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 23-16 lead.
Now, out of nowhere, under 48 backers had a sweat on their hands. If the Titans scored a touchdown to force overtime, the game would inevitably go over the total.
And what a sweat it turned out to be.
Led by Steve McNair, the Titans drove all the way down the field and had one last play at the Rams 10-yard line.
One. Yard. Short.
For some reason, even though there is a song about his name, most don’t remember that Mike Jones made the game saving tackle — one of the most dramatic plays in NFL history.
Jones not only secured the Rams a Super Bowl victory, it saved under bettors from a horrific bad beat (maybe the Titans would’ve went for two… we will never know).
In regards to the side, it ended in a push. Who wants to end their football season with a push? Nobody!
Super Bowl XLI: Colts/Bears Over 47
Dungy’s Decision (Miami, 2007)
Over 47 bettors got off to a red-hot start after rookie Devin Hester took the opening kick for a touchdown. It remains the only opening kick return for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.
Things didn’t go as smoothly for over backers the rest of the way, however. Even in the only Super Bowl to feature rain throughout, you still don’t expect prime Adam Vinatieri to miss an extra point (pre-rule change) and/or a short field goal. Well, both happened in the first half. The Colts botched the snap on an extra point and Vinatieri missed a 32-yarder.
Over bettors were still in good shape late with the Colts inside the Bears 20-yard line in the final minutes. With Indy leading 29-17, one short field goal would get the over home.
Facing fourth-and-6 at the Chicago 17 with 1:49 left, head coach Tony Dungy decided to run a basic dive with Joseph Addai instead of kicking the field goal for a 15-point lead.
In retrospect, Dungy probably made the right call, given the time, score and playing conditions. But that doesn’t make it any less painful for those who wagered on the over.
The total ultimately stayed under by one point. Remember that missed extra point and missed field goal by Vinatieri? What makes those misses even more shocking is Vinatieri broke Terrell Davis’ record for most points (49) in a single postseason that year — a record he still holds today.
Super Bowl XLIII: Cardinals (+3 1H) vs. Steelers
Harrison’s Return (Tampa, 2009)
Trailing 10-7, the Cardinals had first and goal at the Pittsburgh 2-yard line with 18 seconds left in the first half. Those who bet Arizona first half +3 had to assume the Cardinals would at least kick a field goal. Even the biggest pessimist could only imagine a fumble or interception in the end zone for a push.
However, nobody saw what would come next: a James Harrison interception, which he returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
However, after seeing the replay, it wasn’t completely clear if the ball crossed the plane. So, the officials decided to review the play, which sent sportsbooks across Vegas and watch parties across the country into a frenzy.
Not only did the outcome of the review impact the first half side, but also the first half total of 23.5. With no time left on the clock, the refs ultimately made the right call, letting the play stand. Touchdown.
Steelers took a 17-7 lead into the half much to the chagrin of under bettors — and especially Cardinals +3 bettors.
Super Bowl XLIX: Seahawks (+1) vs. Patriots
No Skittles (Glendale, 2015)
The stage: Super Bowl
The situation: Trailing 28-24, Seattle had second-and-goal at the 1-yard line with 26 seconds left.
The call: Not a run
The result: Malcolm Butler interception, Patriots win Super Bowl, Patriots bettors win
Whether you agree or disagree with the play call, Seattle (+1) bettors will never forgive Pete Carroll for his decision not to run the ball with Marshawn Lynch at the goal line to win the Super Bowl (and their bet).
I actually had the Patriots and still can’t believe I won my bet. The Seahawks even took a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter, which had to make this bad beat sting even more for those who bet Seattle.
Super Bowl LI: Falcons (+3) vs. Patriots
28-3 (Houston, 2017)
28-3. A score that will live in infamy.
No team had ever blown even a 10-point lead in the Super Bowl. Atlanta blew a four-score lead with 22 minutes left.
It took a horrible Matt Ryan sack, two New England two-point conversions, and a miracle catch just to complete the comeback. Not only did the Falcons blow a 25-point lead, they also managed to lose the coin toss in overtime.
And just like Tom Brady did all three times he has gone to overtime in the playoffs, the Patriots scored a touchdown on the first possession for a walk-off win. That remains the only overtime drive in Super Bowl history.
The Patriots scored on each of their five final possessions. They capped off their 31 consecutive points with a James White game-winning touchdown run — the final nail in the coffin for Atlanta +3 bettors (myself included).
The Falcons had more than a 99.5% chance of winning outright with nine minutes left.
I’m sure those who bet on the Under 57 (like myself) also felt sick, as the Patriots’ 25 straight points sent the game into OT tied 28-28. Unfortunately for under backers, the Super Bowl can’t end in a tie.