When the first snap of the game soared over Ben Roethlisberger’s head into the end zone, it was reminiscent of the 2014 Super Bowl.
In Sunday’s wild-card playoff contest, Cleveland recovered the errant snap for a touchdown that sparked its stunning 48-37 victory over Pittsburgh.
“That was the game that needed to be on Nickelodeon,” Westgate sportsbook vice president Jay Kornegay said in reference to the children’s network that broadcast Sunday’s Saints-Bears game.
The Browns (+5½), one of only two outright underdog winners on the NFL’s Super Wild Card Weekend, killed a massive number of teasers and money-line parlays on the Steelers.
But the Westgate and BetMGM sportsbooks still suffered a losing day after bettors won on the Ravens (-3½, 20-13 over the Titans) and Saints (-11, 21-9 over the Bears) in the day’s first two games.
$550,000 on Browns
Bettors at BetMGM won $360,000 on two straight wagers on New Orleans (for $210,000 and $176,000) and $200,000 on a $240,000 straight bet on Baltimore.
“We’re getting killed today,” MGM Resorts director of trading Jeff Stoneback said.
“And we’re actually rooting for them to win,” Stoneback said. “That’s how bad the parlay and teaser situation is on the Steelers.”
Ten of the 12 wild-card teams covered on teasers.
“The teasers are always tough in the playoffs,” Stoneback said. “There’s no more solid betting number than the NFL and in the playoffs it’s even more solid. If you can get up to seven points either way, you’ve got a very good shot at winning.”
The books won big on Saturday, when all three underdogs cashed. The Bills (-7, 27-24 over the Colts) and Buccaneers (-10, 31-23 over Washington) won but didn’t cover, and the Rams upset the Seahawks 30-20 as 3-point ‘dogs.
“But we basically gave back what we won on Saturday, the majority of that on the Bears,” Stoneback said. “That was the worst game of the weekend, by far.”
The Bears covered teasers when Jimmy Graham made a one-handed 19-yard TD grab with no time remaining. Saints bettors escaped a potential bad beat as Chicago wasn’t required to attempt a “meaningless” extra point or two.
In the basement
Pittsburgh climbed as high as -6½ over Cleveland after the line opened at 3½ with the news that Browns coach Kevin Stefanski would miss the game after testing positive for COVID-19. Late sharp action caused the number to close at 5½.
Stefanski reportedly watched the franchise’s first playoff win in 26 years alone in his basement.
“I’m really surprised. No coach, no problem,” Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito said. “I wonder if Kevin Stefanski will stay in his basement next week, although you can make a case for him to be Coach of the Year.”
Jackson tied the game at 10-10 late in the first half on a dazzling 48-yard TD run that Baltimore coach John Harbaugh called the best run he’s ever seen by a quarterback.
“He was 0-2 in bowl games and 0-2 in playoff games,” Esposito said. “Maybe that’s the kind of win that will catapult them in the playoffs.”
Titans bettors are probably still wondering why normally aggressive Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel punted on fourth-and-2 at the Ravens’ 40 trailing 17-13 in the fourth quarter.
Favorites went 2-4 ATS on the weekend and overs went 3-2-1.
Contact reporter Todd Dewey at [email protected] Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.