For hardened and recreational bettors alike, a bad beat can feel like a punch to the gut. For those who experience more than one on an NFL Sunday, they may decide to take up a new hobby.
The scenario played out in the waning moments of a 37-27 win by the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday over the Washington Redskins. With six seconds left, the Redskins (+6.5) trailed by three when quarterback Dwayne Haskins attempted in vain to avoid a sack. Falling to the ground, Haskins tossed the ball in the air with an underhand lateral. The ball caromed off an offensive lineman, bounced once and was scooped up by Nigel Bradham who raced 48 yards for a touchdown.
“It definitely cost us a good amount of money, around mid-five figures when the Eagles covered,” said John Murray, sportsbook director at the Westgate Superbook.
Another sportsbook, PointsBet USA, would have lodged a small victory from Bradham’s fumble return. Instead, PointsBet issued a Good Karma Payout returning a five-figure payout to hundreds of Redskins’ backers.
Hours later, the 49ers appeared on the verge of a 22-17 win over the Falcons – a victory that would have kept them in sole possession of the top seed in the NFC Playoffs. On 3rd-and-Goal from the 5, Matt Ryan connected with Julio Jones on a crossing route across the middle. Tackled at the 1, Jones reached for the goal line with one second remaining. While officials initially ruled that Jones went down short of the end zone, they determined after a review that the All-Pro receiver maintained possession and broke the plain.
The play created a swing in moneyline wagers, along with some parlays and teasers. Now up 23-22, the Falcons took a knee on a 2-point conversation to avoid a potential block. On the ensuing kickoff, the 49ers needed a miracle. After two laterals, Niners running back Raheem Mostert took one step outside the numbers and chucked the ball across the field. Before trickling out of bounds, the ball was saved by Falcons safety Jamal Carter and recovered by teammate Olamide Zaccheaus in the end zone.
Following two touchdowns in the last five seconds, the Falcons prevailed 29-22. The teams combined for 28 points in the fourth quarter alone. Bettors holding Over tickets at 49.5 rejoiced.
The end of Wash/Philly was awful. But if you had under in SF/Atl, you will never have a worse loss. Ever. And the true sickos were figuring out exactly how they were going to get screwed and then it happened. This ain’t for everybody.
— SVP SportsCenter Bad Beats (@badbeatSVP) December 16, 2019
Over the last 12 months, the sports gambling world witnessed a litany of last-second plays that contributed to dreadful losses for bettors. Here’s our definitive list of the harshest bad beats from 2019.
1) TCU-Baylor Under 48.5 points. Nov. 9
When playing totals in college football, you can never ignore the possibility of overtime, or more precisely, multiple overtimes. As one unnamed bettor puts it: “You’re never out of it with the over.”
Baylor, then-ranked No. 12 in the nation, put its undefeated record on the line in an early-November matchup in Fort Worth. The Bears and Horned Frogs slogged through a sluggish first half marred by two interceptions, a fumble and a missed field goal. TCU held Baylor scoreless in the first half, but only led by nine at the half.
By the two-minute mark of the third quarter, the total stood at 12. Trailing 9-6 in the final minute, Baylor saved its then-undefeated season with a 51-yard field goal. Baylor took a 16-9 lead on a touchdown run from Charlie Brewer in the first overtime, then appeared to secure the win when officials ruled Te’Vailance Hunt out on a 4th down pass.
“He’s out of bounds, he didn’t make the catch, Baylor wins!” an announcer shouted.
After a thorough review, the officials overturned the call ruling that Hunt “controlled the ball while airborne,” on a fade route toward the left corner of the end zone. For the first time in the afternoon, the under was in doubt. Two overtimes later, Brewer clinched the over with a 4-yard touchdown to Denzel Mims. Baylor prevailed 29-23.
2) Orioles-Tigers Under 9.5 runs. Sept. 14.
When the Orioles faced the Tigers in mid-September, the teams had little on the line besides pride. The showdown pitted two 100-loss squads that each had been eliminated from the pennant race for months.
The teams struggled to produce offense until the top of the eighth when third baseman Hanser Alberto gave the Orioles a 3-2 lead on a three-run homer to left. Baltimore held the lead until the bottom of the ninth when the Tigers forced extra innings with a two-out solo shot by Victor Reyes.
The Orioles surged ahead on an RBI single by Rio Ruiz in the top of the 12th, only to see the Tigers tie it again on a bases-loaded walk by Brandon Dixon. The Tigers still needed two more runs to eclipse the total of 9.5.
“Anything that happens next, means that the under cashes — a walk, a hit by pitch, a single, double, triple, just not a home run,” ESPN broadcaster Scott Van Pelt said on his Sportscenter Bad Beats segment.
Not only did Tigers catcher John Hicks end the game with a home run to left, he ended it with a walk-off grand slam.
“Now there are 12 runs,” Van Pelt exclaimed. “There were two in the top of the eighth, now there are 12.”
3) Timberwolves +3.5 vs. Thunder. Dec. 6.
Oklahoma City guard Chris Paul has distinguished himself throughout his All-Star career as one of the most heady, cerebral guards in the NBA. Paul’s knowledge of the NBA rulebook paid off in the Thunder’s 139-127 victory over Minnesota.
The Wolves led 121-119 with 1.1 seconds left in regulation when the Wolves’ Jordan Bell subbed into the game. Paul informed an official that Bell entered the game with an untucked shirt. Paul knew that Bell would receive a technical foul since Minnesota had already been called for a delay of game infraction earlier in the third quarter.
Thunder forward Danilo Gallinari hit the technical for Oklahoma City, before Karl-Anthony Towns sunk the second of two free throws for the Wolves to give them a 122-120 lead. Then Oklahoma City center Steven Adams immediately took the inbounds and threw a full-court baseball pass to a streaking Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. A layup from the second-year guard at the buzzer forced overtime.
The Thunder dominated the extra session, outscoring the Wolves by a 17-5 margin. Minnesota closed as a +150 underdog on the moneyline.
4) College Hoops: UVA wins title, sinks bettors
Over the last year, PointsBet has developed a Bad Beat Index for assessing the magnitude of a crushing betting defeat. The index incorporates a bevy of weighted factors for determining a rating including: win probability, overall absurdity, event importance and events requiring a near “Act of God,”.
Ironically, enough, two of Virginia’s wins during their scintillating March Madness run rank as the top events on the index. The Cavaliers trailed by two to Purdue in the Elite Eight when Ty Jerome missed a free throw on purpose with 5.9 seconds remaining. The ball was tipped past half court by Mamadi Diakite and retrieved by Kihei Clark. The freshman guard alertly found an open Diakite eight feet from the hoop. Diakite’s runner over Matt Haarms beat the buzzer. Virginia prevailed 80-75 in overtime, covering a 4.5 spread.
The Cavs’ Final Four victory over Auburn earned a 71 rating from PointsBet, the highest rating on the index. Still, the Tigers looked to be in good shape for a trip to the finals when Jared Harper increased their lead to two with 7.9 seconds left. With fouls to give, Auburn fouled Jerome twice in a matter of seconds.
Jerome appeared to commit a double-dribble just before the second foul, but Virginia retained the ball 1.5 seconds on the clock. Though Kyle Guy missed a 3-pointer from the left corner at the buzzer, Virginia received a lifeline when Samir Doughty was whistled for a foul. Guy drained all three free throws for the win.
Since the Cavs’ title run last spring, the madness hasn’t waned when it comes to bad beats. There wasn’t a ton of public interest on an early-season game between UC Davis and Loyola-Marymount on Monday night, but those holding tickets will remember it for quite some time. Depending on the book, UC Davis closed as either a -1 or a -1.5 favorite, while the total closed at 128.5 or 129.
Loyola built an 18-point lead with 16:30, before Joe Mooney and the Aggies answered with a furious rally. After the Aggies took a 64-63 lead with 1:23 left, neither team scored until Erik Johansson sunk a runner with 3.7 seconds to put Loyola up by one. Mooney took an inbounds pass and dribbled a few times until he crossed half-court, put up a contested heave and buried the game-winner, sending a death blow to Loyola backers and those holding tickets on the under at 129.
@ucdavismbb senior Joe Mooney buried a 45 foot 3-pointer at the buzzer to cap a 67-65 come from behind win for the Aggies over visiting @lmulionsMBB. UC Davis rallied from a 61-50 deficit with 6:57 to play, outscoring LMU 17-4 over that span to snatch away the win from the Lions. pic.twitter.com/7NbP5Ky7yx
— 🏀NCAAHoops24/7 (@NCAAHoops247) December 18, 2019
5) Best of the rest
Outside of the U.S., Tottenham eliminated Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals following a questionable offsides call on Sergio Aguero that nullified a late goal from Raheem Sterling. The call is by far the most controversial incident in a Champions League match since UEFA adopted Video Assistant Referee (VAR) technology for reviewing officiating decisions.
In college football, BYU receiver Keanu Hill appeared to have given the Cougars a 48-10 lead over Idaho State with a short touchdown grab on Nov. 16. Officials, however, ruled that Hill’s knee hit the sideline before he reached the ball over the pylon. With a 42-10 lead with two minutes remaining, BYU took a knee on three straight plays to run out the clock. Bettors who took Over 58.5 cringed at the decision.
During the NFL playoffs, bettors received refunds after two notable plays. After former Bears’ kicker Cody Parkey’s last-second field goal vs. the Eagles hit both the upright and crossbar in a “double doink,” miss, FanDuel refunded Bears’ moneyline tickets. PointsBet also issued a Good Karma Payout to all Saints’ spread and moneyline following an infamous non-call on a pass interference by the Rams in the NFC Championship.
The Vegas Golden Knights led San Jose 3-0 in Game 7 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs matchup when Knights forward Cody Eakin received a five-minute major midway through the third period. The Sharks responded with four power- play goals in a four-minute span en route to a 5-4 overtime win. The NHL later apologized to the Golden Knights for making an incorrect call on the major.
The shocking outcome stung particularly for bettors holding Knights’ futures tickets. It did open the door, however, for the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference playoffs. When the Blues defeated the Bruins in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, one bettor cashed on a $400 wager on St. Louis to win the Cup at 250-1.
The Knights’ defeat and the Blues’ subsequent run leads us to borrow a popular adage from broadcaster Al Michaels. When it comes to betting, “some people are happy, while others are not so happy.”
Stephen Keech contributed to this story