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NFL bad beat: Ravens-Browns was NFL's game of the year, and it had the worst beat of the year too

Frank Schwab
·3 min read
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Nothing good happens when teams start throwing laterals in their own territory on the final play.

Anyone who had the Cleveland Browns over the Baltimore Ravens at +3.5 on Monday night thought they were safe. A great Browns comeback led to the Ravens kicking a 55-yard field goal with two seconds left to take a 45-42 lead. Browns backers still had a half-point cushion.

But there were two seconds left.

Anyone with a Browns ticket had to be worried, and for good reason. Everyone knows how the lateral play can go south. Did it ever.

Lateral play leads to chaos

The kickoff was a touchback, and that was bad for Browns backers. That meant the Browns had one play left and would be trying a multiple-lateral play from its own 25.

Baker Mayfield hit Kareem Hunt on a short pass and then the laterals started. There were seven of them, although one might have been a fumble when it looked like Rashard Higgins was tackled. If Higgins was tackled, the game would have been over and the Ravens would have won by 3. But the ball squirted loose and the play continued.

The final lateral was batted backward into the end zone, where Jarvis Landry finally gave in and took a safety in the back of the end zone with Ravens defenders closing in. Baltimore won 47-42. Browns bettors lost.

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Here’s the NFL play-by-play of the gruesome final play:

(:02) (Shotgun) B.Mayfield pass short middle to K.Hunt to CLV 27 for 2 yards. FUMBLES, recovered by CLV-R.Higgins at CLV 27. R.Higgins to CLV 21 for -6 yards. Lateral to B.Mayfield to CLV 15 for -6 yards. FUMBLES, recovered by CLV-J.Landry at CLV 12. J.Landry to CLV 19 for 7 yards. Lateral to R.Higgins to CLV 19 for no gain (P.Queen). FUMBLES (P.Queen), recovered by CLV-K.Hunt at CLV 18. K.Hunt to CLV 16 for -2 yards. Lateral to R.Higgins to CLV 0 for -16 yards. FUMBLES, recovered by CLV-J.Landry at CLV 0. J.Landry pushed ob in End Zone, SAFETY (M.Humphrey).

Anyone who had the Ravens at -3 or -3.5 might want to print that out and frame it.

Baker Mayfield and the Browns took a safety on the final play of a loss to the Ravens that was a big deal for bettors. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield and the Browns took a safety on the final play of a loss to the Ravens that was a big deal for bettors. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)

A game for bad beat lore

The game was a thriller. Anyone who had the Browns thought they were on the wrong side when the Ravens went up 14 points. But then Lamar Jackson went back to the locker room with cramps. The Browns took a 35-34 lead. Jackson came back, threw a fourth-down touchdown on his first play back from the locker room and Baltimore got the two-point conversion. The Browns tied it with 1:04 left and then the Ravens got the go-ahead field goal. The only problem for Browns bettors were those final two seconds on the clock.

The Ravens started as 1-point favorites but got bet up to a 3.5-point favorite before kickoff. That 3.5 number appealed to sharp bettors.

“Now that the line has gone over the key number of 3, we are seeing some sharps buy back on the Browns at +3.5,” BetMGM director of trading Matt Cosgriff said before kickoff.

The Ravens winning by 3 would have been brutal for the sportsbooks. All the Ravens bets at less than 3 would have paid, and all Browns +3.5 tickets would have paid too. But then, thanks to a miracle for Ravens backers and the books, it didn’t happen.

That final play, at the end of the NFL’s best game this season, will live in bad-beat lore.

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