The New England Patriots staged the largest fourth quarter comeback in Super Bowl history and held off the Seattle Seahawks in the final seconds to win Super Bowl XLIX by a 28-24 score.
It was a memorable game that is being called one of the best in the history of the Super Bowl: one that featured controversial calls, impressive performances, and, of course, more than a few dramatic moments for fans and bettors alike.
Most fans and bookmakers were expecting a very close game on Sunday night, with the point spread moving from slightly in Seattle’s favor to right around pick’em before game time, meaning those placing bets didn’t have to worry about the margin of victory, as long as they were on the team that won the game.
The first half was a balanced affair: neither team scored in the first quarter, but each team scored twice in the second, including a pair of touchdowns in the final minute of the half that left the score knotted at 14-14 heading into the halftime break.
Seahawks Open Lead in Third Quarter, But Patriots Rally in Fourth
In the third quarter, it looked as though the Seahawks were about to pull away from the Patriots. Seattle opened the second half with a field goal by Steven Hauschka, and followed it up with a touchdown pass from Russell Wilson to Doug Baldwin.
That allowed the Seahawks to enter the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead, and no team had ever come back from more than seven points down in the final quarter of a Super Bowl.
But with just under eight minutes remaining in the game, Tom Brady threw a touchdown pass to Danny Amendola to bring New England back within three.
After a quick defensive stop, the Patriots mounted another drive, this time ending with a touchdown pass to Julian Edelman, giving New England a 28-24 lead. The Seahawks had one final drive, and after a miraculous catch by Jermaine Kearse, they were just yards from the end zone.
But after Marshawn Lynch ran the ball to the one-yard line, the Seahawks controversially called for a passing play rather than going back to their star running back, and when Malcolm Butler intercepted the pass, the game was all but over.
Patriots and Over Mean Poor Day for Sports Books
The result meant that the Patriots won the game, and covered the spread at all sports books (depending on where you bet, either the Patriots or the Seahawks may have been favored by up to a point or so).
That was likely a bad result for the bookmakers, who reported that there was more money on New England than Seattle heading into the game.
Still, the betting was said to be relatively balanced this year, especially compared to the last Super Bowl, where the vast majority of the money was on the Denver Broncos.
The game also went over the 47.5 over/under total, meaning that the two most popular bets both went the way of bettors rather than the sports books.
“We lost on the teasers, and the parlays didn’t go well either, but we made enough from the futures, parlay cards and props to show a profit,” said Bert Osborne, sports book director for South Point. “It was a decent day.”
Many Popular Prop Bets Lose for Players; Sportsbooks Question Betting on Anthem
Quarterback Tom Brady, who threw four touchdown passes, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player.
That meant that the MVP prop bet was less than valuable for bettors, as Brady was a 2-1 favorite to win the award.
Many of the most popular prop bets didn’t pay out for gamblers: for the first time in four years, there wasn’t a safety in the game, there were no defensive or special teams touchdowns, and the game didn’t have a successful two-point conversion.
The most controversial bet may have been one that had absolutely nothing to do with the game.
A prop bet on the length of the national anthem sung by Idina Menzel before the game was actually taken off the board at some sports books because of a series of large bets that she would over the 2:02 over/under that had been set on her performance.
In the end, Menzel sang for two minutes and four seconds, indeed going over the total.