Bad beats come in all shapes and sizes, but few hurt as much as the ending to last night’s Monday Night Football game between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns.

bad beat Browns Ravens
The Ravens kicked a field goal with two seconds remaining, then scored a safety on the game’s final play to deal Browns bettors a memorable bad beat. (Image: Ron Schwane/AP)

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker nailed a 55-yard field goal with two seconds remaining in regulation to give Baltimore a 45-42 lead, a result that would have left most bettors happy.

Desperate Browns Hand Safety to Ravens

After the ensuing kickoff went through the endzone for a touchback, the Browns had one more play from their own 25-yard line. Experienced gamblers immediately knew there was potential for trouble.

Outside of Hail Mary range and needing a touchdown on the final play of a game, football teams generally attempt gimmicky, multiple-lateral plays in order to keep the action alive. Teams try this in the faint hope that the defense will make an error – likely multiple errors – allowing an offensive player to break free on a game-winning dash to the endzone.

These plays rarely work. More worrisome for bettors, they can lead to defensive touchdowns or safeties: still unlikely, but more common than the miraculous game-winning scores for the offense.

Sure enough, after Baker Mayfield threw a short pass to Kareem Hunt, Cleveland started tossing the ball around. There were a couple of close calls on tackles that could have ended the game, but the Browns kept the ball alive. All the way, that is, until Jarvis Landry stepped out of the back of his own end zone before letting go of the ball, resulting in a safety.

Final score: Ravens 47, Browns 42.

Line Movement Amplified Bad Beat

Naturally, most books closed the game with the Ravens as a three- or 3.5-point favorite. That meant that, for a slew of Browns bettors, that safety cost them either a win or a push.

But this isn’t a story where money shifted from one set of bettors to another. Since the Ravens opened as a one-point favorite, bettors got most of their Baltimore money down at lines between -1 and -2.5. In other words, most people who bet on the Ravens had already won, even before the safety.

Sure, there were some gamblers who benefitted if they put money down on the Ravens late. And those who took the Browns earlier in the week would have lost anyway. But the biggest winners, naturally, were the sportsbooks.

About two hours before the game, PointsBet reported that while the number of bets on both sides of the Monday Night Football game were close to equal, 78% of the handle was on the Browns. At the time, the book had moved the line to Ravens -3.

Immediately after the game, Scott Van Pelt – who includes a bad beat segment on his late night edition of SportsCenter – reacted to the finish.

“I mean, that’s why we have this segment on the Monday night show,” a shrugging Van Pelt said. “Wowzers.”

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