The New Orleans Saints pulled out a 12-9 win over the Carolina Panthers on Monday Night Football, putting the Saints one game closer to clinching home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. But bettors who put their money on New Orleans’ second half performance last night suffered a bad beat at the hands of one of the rarest plays in football.

Defensive two-point conversion Panthers
A rare defensive two-point conversation by the Carolina Panthers stunned bettors who thought the Saints had covered the second-half point spread on Monday night. (Image: Jason E. Miczek/AP)

A Carolina defensive two-point conversion was enough to keep the Saints from covering the second half spread in a half that featured only one scoring drive between the two teams.

Pick-Two Flips the Script at Sportsbooks

According to a report by Sports Illustrated, the Saints were listed as a 4.5-point favorite for the second half of Monday night’s game. That meant a bet on New Orleans would pay off if they outscored Carolina by five or more points on the third and fourth quarters combined.

After a scoreless third quarter, the Saints finally broke through on an Alvin Kamara touchdown run, which gave New Orleans a 12-7 lead. The Saints then attempted to go for a two-point conversion to push their lead out to a full touchdown.

Whether or not the Saints converted on the two-point conversion wouldn’t have impacted second half bettors. But when Drew Brees threw an interception that was returned 98 yards by Donte Jackson for a defensive two-point conversion instead, the second half score became 6-2 in New Orleans favor – only a four-point advantage, and not enough to cover the spread.

Of course, the game wasn’t over, and New Orleans did have another golden opportunity to cover for gamblers later in the fourth quarter.

With less than two minutes left, the Saints had the ball at the Carolina five-yard line. An attempted end-around run by wide receiver Tommylee Lewis looked to be headed to the end zone, but Lewis fumbled the ball short of the goal line. The ball rolled out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback that gave Carolina the ball.

Had New Orleans at least kicked a field goal, they would have covered the 4.5-point second half spread; a touchdown would have also covered the 6.5-point full game spread as well. Instead, while New Orleans got a critical win, only bettors who took the Panthers were celebrating at the end of the game.

Defensive Two-Point Conversions New, Rare in NFL

If you’re not familiar with the concept of the defensive two-point conversion, that’s understandable: the play comes up very rarely, and wasn’t even allowed under NFL rules until recently.

The NFL adopted the defensive two-point conversion in 2015, bringing the league in line with NCAA football, which had used the rule since 1988. The rule allows the defense to score two points if they can return a live ball all the way to the offense’s end zone during any conversion attempt, including a PAT.

Ironically, the very first defensive two-point conversion in NFL history occurred in December 2015, when the Saints blocked an extra point attempt by the Panthers. After Kevin Williams blocked the kick, Stephone Anthony picked up the loose ball and returned it for two points, making NFL history in the process.