Worst Super Bowl Bad Beats: Falcons Get Bettors, Twice

(USA TODAY Sports Images)

There are bad beats and then there are Super Bowl bad beats. The echo of a big sports betting defeat in the Super Bowl is magnified, because so many people wager on the game and often up the ante. And there have been a few bad beats in past Super Bowls that bettors — recreational, pro, or otherwsie– will never forget.

​Here we take a look at the three worst. Good news for bettors this year: Although the game is in Atlanta, the Atlanta Falcons won’t be playing in the Super Bowl.

Super Bowl XXXIII: Denver Broncos 34 Atlanta Falcons 19

Bad Beat: UNDER 52.5

Back in 1999, the Broncos and Falcons faced off in a game that featured two of the NFL’s highest scoring offenses. The total was set at 52.5, one of the highest ever at the time.

The Broncos led 17-6 at halftime. Following a scoreless third quarter, under bettors were sitting pretty with just 23 points scored and one quarter to go. Then all hell broke loose.

Denver scored early in the fourth quarter to take a 24-6 lead. No big deal. The game is a blowout. John Elway will just repeatedly stuff the football into Terrell Davis’ gut and milk the clock.

The Falcons drove down the field on their next possession, but quarterback Chris Chandler threw an interception in the end zone. More good news for under bettors. However, Broncos defensive back Darren Gordon returned the ball midfield and the Broncos scored a couple plays later. Two touchdowns in four minutes.

Then it got worse. Tim Dwight returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, making the score 31-13. What looked like a walk in the park for under bettors a few minutes earlier was now just nine points from going over.

Following the Dwight touchdown, the Falcons tried an onside kick that was recovered by Denver. A Broncos field goal made it 34-13 with seven minutes remaining. A touchdown would send this thing Over.

Chandler led the Falcons on a five-minute drive that included a conversion on fourth-and-4. Under bettors were put out of their misery when the Falcons scored with two minutes on the clock to make the final 34-19.

The conversion attempt failed, but it didn’t matter — Under bettors got nipped by half a point after a ridiculous 30 points were scored in the fourth quarter. The Dwight kickoff return was the key play in one of the all-time Super Bowl bad beats.

Super Bowl XLIII: Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Arizona Cardinals 23

Bad Beat: Cardinals +3 First Half

This game doesn’t get talked about as much as some others but it’s not only one of the worst Super Bowl beats ever, it deserves to be on the list of the worst gambling bad beats of all-time.

The Cardinals trailed the Steelers 10-7 just before the halftime. Arizona was a 3-point dog on the first half line but the Cardinals were set up first and goal and the Steelers 2-yard line with 18 seconds on the clock.

Barring a disaster, Cardinals backers were guaranteed a push, with a win looking imminent. Then…disaster struck.

Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner changed the play at the line of scrimmage. It turned out to doom Arizona bettors. The play Warner checked to was intercepted by Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who rumbled 100 yards for a touchdown. Or so it seemed.

Larry Fitzgerald tracked down Harrison and tackled him as he was going into the end zone. There was some question as to whether or not the ball crossed the goal line before Harrison was down. After making bettors sweat for close to five minutes, the officials correctly called it a touchdown, giving the Steelers a 17-7 lead.

The play not only delivered Cardinals +3 bettors a crushing loss, it also put the first half total over 23.5 points. Easily one of the worst Super Bowl beats ever.

Super Bowl LI: New England Patriots 34 Atlanta Falcons 28

Bad Beat: Falcons +3 and UNDER 57

The Falcons don’t get to the Super Bowl often but when they do, bettors know the game will be a sweat. As bad as the XXXIII Under was 18 years earlier, the Falcons took it to an entirely new level against the Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Probably still fresh in your memory, unless you’ve blocked it out…. Atlanta was up 28-3 as a 3-point underdog midway through the second quarter. 28-3! In the biggest Super Bowl meltdown ever, the Patriots came back to win and cover in overtime.

If you bet the Falcons that day, this is all that had to happen for you to lose: Matt Ryan fumbling, Ryan taking a bad sack, two Patriots two-point conversions, a miracle catch by Julian Edelman and Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan deciding to call a pass instead of running the ball and kicking a field goal to put Atlanta up two scores. That’s it. Even after all that though, the game still went into overtime.

Probably the least dramatic moment in the history of sports was that overtime coin toss. The way the game was going, it felt like the Patriots had better than a 99 percent chance to win the coin toss.

They did and the entire world knew how the story was going to end. Falcons bettors watched Tom Brady continue to carve up Atlanta’s defense until James White finally put a nail in the coffin with a game-wining touchdown run.

The Patriots scored 31 straight points on five consecutive possessions to win 34-28. It was an epic bad beat for those holding Falcons +3 tickets but an honorable mention goes to under 56 bettors, who lost once the Pats tied the game at the end of regulation. Sportsbook were also impacted by the Pats comeback. Most books needed the Falcons and under.

Naturally, once again this year for their annual birthright to the Super Bowl, the Patriots are standing at 2.5-point favorite with a chance of a 3 over the rotating NFC representative, the Los Anglees Rams. And the total, it’s at 56.5 at both FanDuel Sportsbook, DrafKings Sportsbook and MGM, but up to 57 at William Hill. Look around.

Choose your own adventure. Come back every day this week for our favorite prop bets, action report, and much more on Super Bowl III.

About the Author

  • Thomas Casale (tcasale)

  • Thomas Casale is the Editor of Sports Betting Content for RotoGrinders. He's been following the sports betting industry for almost 30 years. Before coming to RotoGrinders, Thomas contributed to The Linemakers and worked as an editor at BetChicago. He's also provided fantasy sports analysis for multiple websites and print publications, while covering the NFL, college football, college basketball and MMA at different media outlets.