10 Worst Bad Beats in NFL Sports Betting History

08 / 12 / 2021 By Ally Mielnicki

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A Backdoor cover can either be a beautiful blessing or a frustrating phenomenon for sports bettors. It is often referred to as a “bad beat” when the cover goes against the bettor. Backdoor covers usually occur in the final moments of a game when a team scores meaningless points, allowing them to cover the spread or go over the total or some bizarre incident or play. As a result, the game shifted from one side of the spread to the other. 

The NFL has perhaps some of the most memorable bad beats in its recent history. The game has become more popularized due to fantasy leagues, survivor leagues, and legalized sports betting.

So what are some of the most memorable bad beats that have haunted NFL sports bettors over the years? Here is a list of the top ten we here at ZenSports recall for better (or worse):

Falcons (+4.5) vs. Patriots Super Bowl 51 

Date: February 5th, 2017
Final: Patriots 34, Falcons 28

Everyone remembers this epic Super Bowl comeback – one that warms the hearts of Patriots fans and backers and will always leave a sour taste in the mouths of anyone who bet the Falcons Moneyline or spread.

Up 28-3 at halftime and completely dominating the game, Atlanta looked like they were in the driver’s seat about to capture their first-ever Super Bowl win. What transpired over the next 30 minutes was unforeseeable. 

Late in the 4th quarter, with the lead cut down to 28-20, Falcons QB Matt Ryan aired out a 27-yard pass to WR Julio Jones, who made an acrobatic catch at the Patriots 22-yard line with 4:40 to go. Already in field goal range with a fresh set of downs, the Falcons elected to throw the ball on a 2nd-and-11 rather than run the clock out. The result? The Patriots sacked Ryan for a loss of 12 yards. Ryan did manage to get the Falcons back into range by completing a 9-yard pass to WR Mohamed Sanu, but a 10-yard offensive holding penalty negated it. At 3rd-and-33, Ryan’s next pass was incomplete, and forcing Atlanta was to punt.

What’s next was a not-so-happy ending for the Falcons. Patriots WR Julian Edelman caught a fantastic diving catch for a 23-yard gain on what should have been an interception.

Eventually, the Patriots scored and converted the two-point conversion to tie the score at 28-28, shocking Falcons fans and bettors around the country. 

Going into overtime, the Patriots won the coin toss and then proceeded to score on the opening drive via a James White TD and won the game. Not only did the Falcons lose, but they failed to cover the spread.

Bills (+3.5) vs. Patriots 

Date: November 29th, 1998
Final: Patriots 25, Bills 21

With seconds left in the game and Buffalo sporting a 21-17 point lead, the Patriots only had one play left before time expired, sitting at the Bills’ 26-yard line. New England QB hurled up a Hail Mary at the end, which hit the ground incomplete. However, a controversial defensive pass interference penalty was called on the Bills, setting up an untimed down from the 1-yard line. After scoring a touchdown to put the Patriots up 23-21, the Bills players walked off the field in frustration. What was left was 11 Patriots left on the field. Instead of kicking the extra point, kicker Adam Vinatieri ran into the endzone for the 2-point conversion, causing all Bills backers to rip up their tickets in disgust. 

Falcons vs. 49ers Total 49 

Date: December 15th, 2019
Final: Falcons 29, 49ers 22

This game should have been a lock for the under. After the Falcons scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion to go up 23-22 on the Niners, San Francisco received the kickoff with their only option to lateral the ball, hoping for a miraculous touchdown. Instead, it was a miracle for over bettors who watched the Niners throw more and more backward until a pass dropped to the ground. The Falcons recovered it for another touchdown to make it 29-22. 14 points in 2 seconds – who could have predicted that?

Patriots vs. Raiders (+3) 

Date: January 19th, 2002
Final: Patriots 16, Raiders 13

In what was the first of many calls seeming to work in favor of Tom Brady and the Patriots, this one still has Raider fans and bettors bitter to this day. With less than two minutes left in the AFC Championship game and his team down 13-10, Brady dropped back in the snow to pass and fumbled the ball. Raiders fans and players started rejoicing, but their celebration didn’t last long. Citing the “Tuck Rule,” it was ruled an incomplete pass instead. The Patriots then tied it up 13-13 before winning 16-13 in overtime. Hey, a push is better than a loss.

Rams (-7.5) vs. Packers Total 57 

Date: October 28th, 2018
Final: Rams 29, Packers 27

In what will always be remembered as the last game Ty Montgomery would ever play again as a member of the Packers, several blunders led to those who had the over fail to cover. 

With one timeout remaining and 2:04 on the clock, Montgomery opted to run the kickoff out of the endzone instead of taking a knee and giving the Packers one play before the two-minute warning in addition to one timeout, which is more than enough for Aaron Rodgers to lead a comeback. Instead, Montgomery selfishly ran out of the endzone and fumbled the ball deep in Rams territory. 

Still, with one timeout remaining, the Packers had a shot at getting the ball back with about 15 seconds to go if they were successful on a three-and-out, but the defense failed to hold up the Rams offense. 

Over-backers were presented with a false sense of hope as they watched Rams RB Todd Gurley break free on a 3rd-and-10, but instead of scoring a touchdown, he sacrificed himself inside the 5-yard line. Not only did that irritate over bettors, but those who backed the Rams at -7.5 as well.

Seahawks vs. Packers (-3.5)

Date: September 24th, 2012
Final: Seahawks 14, Packers 12

How could anyone forget the controversial Fail Mary? On the game’s final play, with the Seahawks trailing 12-7, Seattle QB Russell Wilson launched a pass to WR Golden Tate in the back of the endzone. Tate clearly pushed the Green Bay defender in front of him, which should have resulted in an offensive pass interference penalty. Not only that, Tate wrestled for the ball against another Packer defender as they both went down together. Ironically, this occurred when NFL referees held out due to a labor dispute, and temporary referees operated the game. One referee signaled a touchdown on the field in utter confusion, and the other signaled touchback, but no penalty. It only took two days for the NFL and the permanent referees to come into a labor agreement, but it was too late for Packers’ bettors. 

Ravens vs. Vikings Under 42

Date: December 8th, 2013
Final: Ravens 29, Vikings 26

This contest was a crazy game in the snow where the Ravens entered the fourth quarter up 7-6. It seemed like the total of 42 would be a sure bet until an outburst of scoring took place. When all was said and done, both teams combined to score 42 total points in the fourth quarter alone and the final sitting at 29-26.

Colts vs Chiefs (-2)

Date: January 4th, 2014
Final: Colts 45, Chiefs 44

In this Wild Card game, the Chiefs built up a 31-10 lead at halftime. To start the second half, Kansas City scored yet another touchdown to go up 38-10. That’s when Colts QB Andrew Luck put the team on his shoulders and led Indy to a historic comeback. Down by 6 with a little over 4 minutes to play, Luck launched a 64-yard touchdown pass to T.Y. Hilton to tie the game and then go ahead 45-44 with the extra point. The Chiefs failed to score the rest of the game, marking it one of the biggest collapses in postseason history.

Patriots (EVEN) vs. Seahawks 

Date: February 1st, 2015
Final: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24

This game resulted in another bad beat that went in the Patriots’ favor. With less than a minute to go on second-and-goal from New England’s 1-yard line, the Seahawks were trailing 28-24. Seattle head coach Pete Carroll elected to trust his QB, Russell Wilson, to throw instead of handing the ball off to RB Marshawn Lynch. The result? An amazing interception in the endzone by Patriots CB Malcolm Butler to seal the game and give the Patriots and Tom Brady another Super Bowl title.

Bills (+5) vs. Titans

Date: January 8th, 2000
Final: Titans 22, Bills 16

Also known as the “Music City Miracle,” the Bills had taken the lead with 16 seconds to go up 16-15 in the AFC Wild Card game. On the ensuing kickoff return, Titans WR Kevin Dyson received a lateral pass from TE Frank Wycheck. Dyson then sprinted down the field for a 75-yard kickoff return for a touchdown giving Tennessee a 22-16 and spoiling Bills’ backers across the country. 

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