A Breakdown Of A Bonkers Bad Beat For Non-Baltimore Backers

Posted on December 15, 2020 - Last Updated on December 16, 2020

They’re already calling it a potential NFL game of the year, but for bettors who wagered against the Baltimore Ravens, it was a bad beat for the ages.

In fact, the ending of Monday Night Football’s AFC North showdown between the victorious Ravens (8-5) and heartbroken Cleveland Browns (9-4) could have significant playoff implications.

It’s already had a major impact at sportsbooks across the US and elsewhere.

So, how did the ending to Monday’s wild ESPN-televised game in Cleveland bring so much elation and dejection to sports bettors?

It all came down to a wild ending that saw 19 points, including a pivotal game-ending safety, that the two division rivals scored in the final two minutes of the Week 14 game.

Baltimore vs. Cleveland closing odds

As with most bad beat stories, the spread is a key aspect of this tale.

First things first: The over-under was never really in doubt. In the grueling back-and-forth game, the two teams put up 878 total yards of offense and lit up the scoreboard with two touchdowns in the first quarter, three each in the second and third quarters, and four in the fourth.

The total for the game closed at 45.5 points. However, the over hit midway through the third quarter when the Browns’ Kareem Hunt rushed for a touchdown and cut the Ravens’ lead to 28-20.

However, spread bettors faced far more uncertainty — right up until the final play of the game, when just two seconds remained on the clock

At the sportsbooks with very early lines, the game opened with Baltimore as 1-point favorites. However, by the time most books opened the spread for the Monday-night slugfest, the Ravens were consensus 3-point favorites, and the line remained there at many books throughout the week and just prior to kickoff.

And right up until the final play, it looked like the game would finish with a simple push and most bettors would get their money back.

But then came that final play.

Baltimore’s game-ending safety burns Browns bettors

With two minutes remaining in the game, Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, who had to briefly leave the game due to cramps, hit Marquise Brown for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Then, after a two-point conversion, the Ravens had a 42-35 lead.

Yet, on the next drive, Browns QB Baker Mayfield and Kareem Hunt connected for a 22-yard TD to tie it up.

Then, with a minute remaining, Baltimore strung together six plays and drove to field goal range. Once there, kicker Justin Tucker connected on a 55-yard field goal to put the Ravens up, 45-42, with two seconds remaining. At that point, the game looked over, and most bettors had accepted the fate of their push.

Then came that final play. The Browns needed a touchdown to win. Instead, this multi-lateral disaster happened:

With that forced safety and the two points, Baltimore got the victory with a final score of 47-42.

And all those potential pushes? They became miraculous victories for Ravens backers and soul-crushing defeats for the Dawg Pound faithful.

Fallout from Ravens vs. Browns

Monday’s game saw five lead changes and three ties, and according to ESPN, millions of dollars swung at sportsbooks as a result.

At least one of them, FanDuel, saw a marketing opportunity. As a result, some Browns bettors got some relief in the form of refunded bets:

But for everyone else, most notably Browns bettors who didn’t get their money back? Well, it would be a real contender for the Bad Beat Hall of Fame.

As King of Bad Beat Coverage Scott Van Pelt aptly summarized post-game: “Wowzas.”

Photo by David Richard / The Associated Press
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Dann Stupp

Dann Stupp is a longtime sports journalist who’s written and edited for The Athletic, USA Today, ESPN and other outlets. He lives in Lexington, Virginia.

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