NFL betting: Cowboys' upset bid falls just short, but they finally cover the spread for first time this season

Never think that you have the NFL figured out. You don’t.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, at 7-0, were the NFL’s last undefeated team. The Dallas Cowboys were 2-6, the only team that was winless against the spread all season and on its fourth starting quarterback already this season. This time it was Garrett Gilbert, whose claim to fame is being a star in the defunct AAF. The only question seemed to be how many points the Steelers would cover the spread by.

It wasn’t that easy for the Steelers. The Cowboys, who were +650 on the moneyline at BetMGM, almost pulled off the upset. They lost 24-19 but at least covered as 14-point underdogs. The line was as high as +15 and the moneyline swelled to +800 during the week.

It was the first time the Cowboys have covered the spread all season. That’s not much consolation to Cowboys fans, but at least they’re no longer chasing the unheard-of winless season against the spread.

Steelers got most of the bets

Sportsbooks had to be rooting hard for the Cowboys’ win.

As of Friday, the Steelers had the third-highest amount of money bet on them at BetMGM among Week 9 games. Nobody wanted the Cowboys, and rightfully so. They were 0-8 against the spread before Sunday. Presumably there were many teasers and moneyline parlays that included the Steelers, too. The Steelers didn’t even cover the 6-point teaser.

It was clear early on that the Cowboys were going to be competitive. The Cowboys won the first quarter. And the first half. The Steelers looked awful.

Dallas is a bad football team and let the Steelers back in the game. The Cowboys were about to score in the fourth quarter when Gilbert was hit, his pass floated into the end zone and was picked off by Minkah Fitzpatrick. A turnover by Ben Roethlisberger was overturned due to an illegal contact penalty on Jaylon Smith. Leighton Vander Esch lost his cool right after that and got a 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness.

The Steelers got a field goal to cut the Cowboys’ lead to 19-18, and then Eric Ebron hurdled a defender and scored just before the two-minute warning.

The only good news, at least for Cowboys bettors: The 2-point conversion was unsuccessful, eliminating the possibility of a pick six and a terrible push. And Dallas still almost got the moneyline bettors a win at the end.

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron (85) scored the winning touchdown to beat the Cowboys. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Eric Ebron (85) scored the winning touchdown to beat the Cowboys. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

Cowboys almost pulled off rare upset

When the Cowboys were holding the lead for most of the game, it seemed they had a shot at a very rare NFL upset.

It’s unusual for a two-touchdown underdog to win straight up. There have been only 29 instances of that since 1978, according to Stathead’s database. If you push the point spread to 14.5 points or more, there have been only 13 underdogs to win straight up over the past 42 years.

The Cowboys gave it a run. The Steelers didn’t lead until Ebron’s touchdown with a little more than two minutes left. The Cowboys were sacked on a fourth down after Ebron’s score but Dallas’ defense got a stop with 38 seconds left, and had the ball with 81 yards to go for a winning touchdown. Gilbert drove the Cowboys and had a shot to win it on the final play, but his last pass was knocked down.

At least anyone who was brave enough to take the Cowboys with the spread could cash a ticket. Finally.

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