Sports Betting Bad Beats of the Year 2020

Jarvis Landry on the ground in disbelief

Baltimore Ravens cornerback Marlon Humphrey (44) bends down to help up Cleveland Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry (80) at the end of an NFL football game, Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Kirk Irwin)
  • A “bad beat’ in the sports betting world is a wager you were in line to win up until some devastating event in the final minutes of play
  • 2020 was a year full of heartbreaking bad beats
  • Look back on the worst bad beats of the 2020 year

As someone who was on the wrong side of far too many bad beats in 2020, I didn’t even want to write this. I didn’t want to have to relive the pain and devastation these games brought me.

I apologize if you’re in the same boat. Being reminded of the times you lost money, when you should have won money, is never fun. But I believe that together we can get over these bad beats and move forward to greener futures.

If you personally suffered from one of the bad beats below, have a bad beat that I was able to fully suppress from my memory, or want to help us determine which was the bad beat of the year, leave a comment at the bottom. Because, you know, misery loves company.

Bad Beats of 2020

Last chance to turn back and admit you’re not ready to handle these …

Browns Botch the Laterals

  • Date: December 14, 2020
  • Line: Ravens -3 / -3.5
  • Finals score: Baltimore 47-42

This was a downright awful bad beat whether you had Browns +3 or +3.5. In one of the games of the year, Cleveland and Baltimore had been trading scores all game and the fourth quarter was electric. (We even got some hilarious poop jokes out of it.)

But the excitement of the game (and Lamar Jackson poop jokes) was deflated faster than a Tom Brady football when the final whistle blew in this one.

The Browns found themselves up 35-34, largely thanks to Jackson needing to “go get an IV” because he was “cramping”, with 6:33 left in the game. But Jackson would emerge from the locker room and re-enter the game for a pivotal 4th-and-5 at the two minute warning.

Jackson found Marquise Brown wide open downfield and the Ravens WR would take it 44 yards to the house. Baltimore would convert for two points after the touchdown to make it 42-35.

But then it was Baker Mayfield’s turn for heroics. He took the Browns 75 yards on just four plays to tie the game with 1:04 left on the clock. Unfortunately, they left a little too much time on the clock, and Justin Tucker would hit a 55-yard field goal to give Baltimore a 45-42 lead with two seconds left.

This is where the game should have ended. Cleveland should have been tackled attempting to lateral the ball all over the field and Browns +3 bettors should have pushed, while Browns +3.5 should have cashed.

That’s not what happened, though. After a bunch of laterals that had already pushed them back ten yards (or so), Rashard Higgins retreated back near his own goal line with the ball, leaving himself with no teammates to lateral to.

Higgins made one final push forward before launching it backwards from his own 11-yard-line, sending Jarvis Landry into the endzone to scoop it up. Landry had a defender on him immediately and was tackled through the back of the endzone for a safety, giving Baltimore a vomit-inducing 47-42 victory, and the cover.

Disbelief. Pain. Agony. These were the emotions going through my head after this one.

Nick Chubb Runs Out of Bounds

  • Date: November 15, 2020
  • Line: Cleveland -4.5
  • Final score: Cleveland 10-7

There are two types of horrible bad beats: (1) the bad beat that comes out of nowhere, and (2) the bad beat where you were given hope miraculously after giving up on the bet, only to have it backfire immediately.

The Browns dealt us with the latter in this one.

The Browns were favored by 4.5 and held a 10-0 lead late in the fourth quarter. Deshaun Watson would drive 90 yards in just seven plays to get the Texans on the board, trailing just 10-7 now.

Cleveland bettors were in need of any score with five minutes left on the clock, but the team was doing a great job of draining the clock with their powerful running game. Just as Browns bettors were giving up hope on a 3rd-and-3 with a little over a minute left, where a first down seals the game, Nick Chubb breaks loose down the sideline and is gone.

No one was going to catch Chubb as he neared the endzone, but the back made the “smart” call to just step out of bounds at the one-yard-line and allow his quarterback to kneel on the ball and end the game.

This one really hurt!

Laquincy Rideau Doesn’t Care About Your Bets

  • Date: February 12, 2020
  • Line: Houston -5.5
  • Final score: Houston 62-58

This game was over. Houston’s basketball team had risen to the occasion and knocked down two free throws to extend their lead from four to six with just under four seconds left. It was a great cover!

But then South Florida’s Laquincy Rideau takes the inbound and speeds down the court unguarded to sink a layup right before the buzzer. Cougars only win 62-58. Barf!

Jamal Murray Nails an Unnecessary Three at the Buzzer

  • Date: August 23, 2020
  • Line: Utah -4.5
  • Final score: Utah 129-127

Continuing with the unnecessary buckets to end a game, Jamal Murray ripped the hearts out of Jazz -4.5 bettors on August 23. The Nuggets found themselves down 129-124 with just over six seconds left in the game.

Some teams would opt to dribble out a five-point deficit with so little time remaining. Others might put up a prayer at the buzzer that misses 95% of the time (don’t check my math on that). Murray, on the other hand, calmly brings the ball down the floor and drops a three right at the buzzer to sink Jazz -4.5 bettors, bringing the final score to 129-127.

(If I’m being honest, this one helped me. But let’s not get tied up in that.)

Dolphins Opt for the Field Goal Against Chiefs

  • Date: December 13, 2020
  • Line: Kansas City -7
  • Final score: KC 33-27

This one hurt because of how hard bettors battled in the first half. Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs offense got off to a very slow start, but managed to take a 14-10 lead into half. Kansas City would hold a 30-10 lead just after the midway point of the third quarter.

Miami would score 14 straight, though, to make it 30-24 with just over four minutes left to play. The Chiefs put together one more drive to get into field goal range, opting to kick the field goal on 4th-and-20 from Miami’s 28-yard-line with just 1:08 on the clock.

Super Bowl 55 Odds Tracker

The Dolphins got the ball back and KC bettors were kicking up their feet. But then the Chiefs are called for a pretty questionable 18-yard defensive pass interference penalty, on a play where they picked off Tua Tagovailoa. The rookie then completes a 22-yard pass over the middle to KC’s 26-yard-line.

This is where we’d get another “smart” play. Miami opted to walk out the field goal team with 16 seconds left instead of trying for the endzone. Jason Sanders nails it to bring the final score to 33-27, costing me money and likely a few years of my life.

Giants and Eagles Leave Points All Over the Field

  • Date: October 22, 2020
  • Total at sportsbooks: 43.5
  • Total points scored: 43

I think this one hurt so bad because of all the little cuts we sustained throughout the game before the final deep one. It’s always easy to look back on a game and find points that were left on the field, but it was really easy to do in this one.

In total, we had (1) a missed 29-yard field goal by Jake Elliott, (2) an interception in the red zone, and (3 and 4) two failed two-point conversions. That’s somewhere between 10-14 points left off the scoreboard.

The final failed two-point conversion came with 40 seconds on the clock after Philadelphia had just scored to go up 22-21, giving hope to over bettors again, only to crush us once again.

Falcons Allow the Watermelon Kick

  • Date: September 20, 2020
  • Moneyline: Atlanta +175
  • Final score: Dallas 40-39

You can always count on the Falcons to blow a late-game lead and cost you money. That’s exactly what happened in Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season when Atlanta was in Dallas.

The Falcons were up 20-0 after the first quarter and still held a 29-10 lead at halftime. The Cowboys would score 14 in the third quarter, while holding Matt Ryan and company scoreless, to get themselves within striking distance.

But the comeback bid appeared to be over with 1:49 left in the game and Atlanta clinging onto a two-point lead (39-37). Dallas had just scored and needed to recover an onside kick because they had no timeouts left. We all remember the watermelon kick.

Dallas indeed recovers and gets into field goal range for Greg Zuerlein, who knocks in the 46-yard kick and gives the Cowboys the win as time expired. Atlanta moneyline bettors were forced to rip up their +175 tickets that they should have been able to cash hours earlier because this game was so out-of-hand.

Technical Fouls, Threes, and Unnecessary Fouls at Arizona State

  • Date: January 18, 2020
  • Total at sportsbooks: 146
  • Total points scored: 147

We should have known how bad 2020 was going to be based on how quickly we were served such a bad beat. On January 18, Utah took on Arizona State on the hardwood with the Sun Devils listed as 6.5-point favorites and the total set at 146.

The first half saw just 52 points scored and only 104 points on the board with less than 6:20 to play. Then both teams caught fire from deep. We got up to 132 points with just 1:23 left to play and ASU leading 73-59 – the under still looked safe.

Then we had *THREE* technical fouls called on Utah without any time coming off the clock, sending Arizona to the line for five free points and bringing the total points scored to 137. The under didn’t look nearly as promising anymore, but nine points in just over a minute, in a game that has already been decided, is still a lot to ask for.

Two three-pointers and a layup later we’re at 145 points with 23.5 seconds left, and the Sun Devils had the ball. You’re safe. They’ll just dribble it out and end the game. NOPE! Utah fouls to send Arizona State to the line, where Caleb Christopher made both to rip the hearts out of under bettors.

Stanford Collapses Against USC

  • Date: January 18, 2020
  • Line: Stanford +3
  • Final score: USC 82-78

January 18 sucked. Stanford took a 20-point lead (45-25) into the locker room at halftime and anyone with Stanford +3 was laughing.

USC came out hot in the second half, holding Stanford to just one point in the first 5.5 minutes of play. The Cardinal’s double-digit lead had evaporated with just over 8:30 left to play.

However, they maintained a five-point lead with just 15 seconds left on the clock and they were inbounding the ball in their own backcourt. Stanford’s Oscar da Silva threw it away on the inbound, and the Trojans ended up tapping in their own miss to cut the lead to three.

Then Staford throws it away AGAIN on the very next inbound and USC’s Elijah Weaver nails a clutch three to tie the game. Disaster had appeared to strike – we were headed to overtime. Not so quick! Weaver was fouled on the three-point attempt and would go to the line for an and-one opportunity.

Weaver just needs to hit the free throw and Stanford +3 bettors are still safe. But, of course, he clanks it and the game does in fact go to overtime.

In overtime, Stanford found itself trailing by two (80-78) with just 5.1 seconds on the clock and USC in possession. The Cardinal would foul Daniel Utomi, a 69% free throw shooter, and he manages to step up to the line and sink both, making it 82-78. Stanford inbounded with just over three seconds on the clock and got a good, clean look from three that didn’t fall.


Referees Get Involved in Baylor vs Kansas State

  • Date: February 3, 2020
  • Line: Baylor -7.5
  • Final score: Baylor 73-67

It somehow gets even worse when the referees play a role in the bad beat. This is what happened on February 3 when Baylor took on Kansas State in some NCAAW action.

There was less than 30 seconds left in the game and Baylor held a 73-64 lead, currently holding a 1.5-point ATS lead. K-State brings the ball down and misses a three. Baylor grabs the rebound, takes a bit of contact along the baseline, and we get a very questionable whistle for stepping out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Wildcats.

You know how this plays out. KSU nails a three to cut the lead to six. But with 8.4 seconds left on the clock, Baylor gets fouled and heads to the line to shoot two. Hitting both would extend the lead to eight and Bears bettors would cash. Of course, they miss both and serve up one hell of a bad beat.

Did Kispert Bet on His Bulldogs?

  • Date: February 20, 2020
  • Line: Gonzaga -16.5
  • Final score: Gonzaga 71-54

This was so grossly unnecessary. Gonzaga led 68-54 with possession (a side-inbound in the frontcourt) and just over one second left in the game.

Instead of inbounding the ball and letting time run out, Corey Kispert pops a three with a defender right in his face and nails it.

Gonzaga wins 71-54 and destroys the day of every San Francisco +16.5 bettor. Someone needs to explain to me why they shot this.

Honorable Mention

Here’s four more just in case you hadn’t suffered enough:

  1. Titans vs Patriots (-4.5), 2020 NFL Wild Card: This game killed a lot of teasers in the Wild Card Round of the NFL playoffs. Sportsbooks reported plenty of six-point teasers with New England featured (+1.5). Tennessee was up 14-13 with just 15 seconds left in the game, but then Tom Brady throws a pick that Logan Ryan walks into the endzone to crush the New England +1.5 teasers.
  2. Sharks (+200) vs Capitals, January 5: San Jose led 4-2 with one minute left and went on to lose, becoming only the seventh team in NHL history to lose a game when trailing by more than one goal with a minute left.
  3. Texans (+360) vs Chiefs, NFL Divisional Round: Houston was up 24-0 early in the second quarter and those who backed the underdog were already starting to celebrate. But then Bill O’Brien struck. The Texans had just opted to play conservative and kick a field goal deep in Kansas City territory on 4th-and-1 to go up 24-0, then decide to call a fake punt on 4th-and-4 in their own territory to kickstart the Chiefs comeback.
  4. Timberwolves (-3) vs Kings, January 27: Minnesota was up by 17 with 2:49 left in the game. They would go on to lose 133-129 in overtime. Teams who were down 17+ in the final three minutes were 0-8378 since 1996-97 prior to this.

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