With the NFL season officially concluding on Sunday, every opportunity to bet on a live football game has been exhausted for the next few months. With that in mind, let's remember some of the reasons why that might not be the worst thing for certain unlucky bettors, as we look back at the five worst bad beats from this NFL season (ordered by week).
While the Giants and Cowboys hoped to compete for the NFC East title entering this season, they combined for just 10 wins in 2015-16. There was disappointment surrounding these teams right out of the gate, at least for some bettors. The 53 combined points in their Week 1 matchup made this one of the worst bad beats of the season.
With just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Giants led 16-13; the 29 combined points were 23.5 less than the closing total. The two teams then proceeded to exchange touchdowns, with 1-yard scores by Rashad Jennings and Jason Witten, and with less than two minutes remaining in the game, New York led 23-20. Dallas was given life after questionable decisions by Eli Manning, who stopped the clock by throwing away a third-and-goal pass, and coach Tom Coughlin, who chose to kick a field goal. It was the first of several Coughlin calls that were heavily scrutinized during his last season in New York.
The Cowboys got the ball back down 26-20, with a chance to win. A healthy Tony Romo did just that, leading a game-winning drive capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass to Witten with seven seconds left.
Dan Bailey's PAT was the 24th point in the final 8:01, dooming bettors who were on the under to a loss by the narrowest of margins, a half-point, in the cruelest of fashions.
Final score: Cowboys 27, Giants 26 (game goes over)
In Week 5, the underdog Rams simply could not finish a drive against the Packers. Despite outplaying Green Bay at several points throughout the game, kicking woes and turnovers in the red zone cost bettors who took St. Louis. The Rams drove into Green Bay territory in each of their final five possessions, but they somehow didn't score a single point on those drives. Not even Hollywood script-writers could make up the Rams' comedy of errors. St. Louis' final possessions ended like this: blocked field goal, missed field goal, interception, missed field goal, interception.
Greg Zuerlein hadn't missed a field goal all season entering this game, and his three missed kicks tied a career high. The play that sealed the fate of Rams bettors was Nick Foles' fourth and final interception of the game, this one coming from the Green Bay 7-yard line. Even though the Rams held a possession advantage of more than seven minutes and outgained the Packers, it went down as a 14-point loss and a failure to cover for St. Louis backers.
Final score: Packers 24, Rams 10 (Packers cover)
New York Giants at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Closing over/under: 49
Bettors who took the under simply needed to avoid a worst-case-scenario-type play in the final seconds, but unfortunately for them it was a disastrous ending, and one they won't soon forget. With 23 seconds left in the game, Josh Brown's field goal put the Giants up 26-18, pushing the total to 44. The Buccaneers had no timeouts and started deep in their own territory. The odds were stacked against rookie Jameis Winston leading a game-tying touchdown drive, which seemed to be the only way the total could go over in this game.
On the final play, Tampa Bay tried to lateral its way down the field. In a play that must still be haunting those on the under, Mike Evans overthrew a lateral, leading to a Trevin Wade fumble return for a touchdown, which resulted in the total going over by one point as the clock hit zero.
Final Score: Giants 32, Buccaneers 18 (game goes over)
Green Bay Packers at Detroit Lions
Closing line: Packers -2.5, over/under 46.5
It's not often that bets on the spread and total are both decided on one play. It's even more improbable when the play is a Hail Mary pass, and rarer still that it would come after a team is awarded an untimed down with no time on the clock.
But as every football fan has undoubtedly seen multiple times in the last few months -- and will see again for many years to come -- Aaron Rodgers somehow connected with Richard Rodgers for a walk-off, 61-yard touchdown. Considering the scoreboard momentarily read, "Lions 23, Packers 21, 0:00," this was without a doubt one of the worst bad beats you will ever see. The final play not only covered the spread for Green Bay, but sent the total over as well.
While this game will always be remembered for the final play, some might forget that the Lions led 20-0 with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter. Bettors who took either Detroit or the under were looking great not just before the final play, but seemingly throughout the game.
After the game, Detroit coach Jim Caldwell might as well have been speaking for the folks who took Detroit and/or the under: "Tough one to lose. Those are the ones that eat at you." It's safe to say that this bad beat still stings for those who were on the wrong side.
Final score: Packers 27, Lions 23 (Packers cover and game goes over)
Chicago Bears at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Closing over/under: 43.5
Many last-second Hail Mary plays will always be remembered, but most of the world will never see or even care about the one from this game. Unless, of course, you had the under.
The Buccaneers led 14-13 entering the fourth quarter, with bettors who were on the under holding a 16.5-point cushion. The Bears took control of the game with 13 straight points and led 26-14 with 1:07 left. Reminiscent of the Giants/Bucs game seven weeks earlier, a late touchdown would ultimately send the game over the total.
Tampa Bay struggled offensively all game, but they put things together late and moved the ball to the Chicago 43-yard line with 10 seconds left. Down 12, and with a victory all but out of the question, Winston heaved a pass into a sea of defenders, and it somehow landed in the hands of Austin Seferian-Jenkins for a touchdown with one second left.
For some, it was just a meaningless touchdown late in a game between two teams with losing records. But for those who were on the under, it was a tough pill to swallow.
Final score: Bears 26, Buccaneers 21 (game goes over)