The Numbers Behind 28-3 And The Greatest NFL Live Bets In History

Written By Nate Weitzer on February 12, 2022
biggest super bowl comeback

Betting with your heart doesn’t always pay off. But during one fateful February night, a group of diehard New England Patriots fans got a huge reward for their faith in Tom Brady and Co. to shatter the record for biggest Super Bowl comeback.

Sit back and enjoy one of the many unprecedented, true live betting stories from the night of the Patriots Super Bowl stunner.

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Super Bowl LI Live Betting

Falcons Take 25-Point Lead

On Feb. 5, 2017, the Falcons and Patriots met in Super Bowl LI at NRG Stadium in Houston. Atlanta scored three unanswered touchdowns to take a 21-3 lead and was threatening for more in the third quarter when one fan suggested live betting the Patriots Moneyline, which was listed with +600 odds at the time.

Another fan responded, “Hang on, I think Atlanta’s going to score here, then we bet.”

A few minutes later, the Falcons capped an 8-play, 85-yard scoring drive with a 6-yard TD pass from Matt Ryan to Tevin Coleman, opening a 28-3 with 4:14 left in the third quarter.

At that point, the Falcons had a 99.8% Super Bowl win probability, according to ESPN.

It made sense. To that point, the biggest Super Bowl comeback in history was 10 points. It was accomplished by three different teams:

  • Super Bowl XXII: Washington came back from 10-0 to beat Denver 42-10
  • Super Bowl XLIV: Saints came back from 10-0 to beat Colts 31-17
  • Super Bowl XLIX: Patriots came back from 24-14 in the 4th quarter to beat Seahawks 28-24

The Price To Bet On The Biggest Super Bowl Comeback

After taking a 28-3 lead, the patient Patriots fan hit the moneyline with a $100 bet at +1000 odds, then watched with increasing hope as Brady and James White led a 75-yard scoring drive to make it 28-9. The live odds at this point with less time on the clock grew as large as +1600 on the Patriots to win.

A Patriots field goal followed by a recovered fumble followed, capped off with a 25-yard scoring drive and a two-point rush from White to make it 28-20 with 5:56 left in the fourth quarter.

After a couple of questionable play calls by the Falcons and a timely sack from the Patriots, Brady got the ball back and executed a 91-yard scoring drive with White running in for a one-yard TD. But New England still needed another 2PC to tie. Danny Amendola caught it, and the Patriots had climbed a previously insurmountable NFL mountain to force overtime.

New England Puts The Nail In The Coffin

In the extra period, Brady put the Falcons to bed with a 75-yard scoring drive, once again capped by a White rush. A couple days later, those fans (and many others) withdrew the sweet, sweet winnings of a live bet that required a Super Bowl comeback that had never happened before in 50 previous renditions.

True Win Probability Of Biggest Super Bowl Comeback

After the game, ESPN modeler Brian Burke admitted on Twitter that giving the Falcons victory a projection of 99.8% might have been a bit steep and oddsmakers seemed to feel the Falcons were closer to 91% given the +1000 odds for the Patriots midway through the third quarter.

At the point where some sportsbooks had New England +1600, that had an implied probability of 5.9% to win the game.

Since 2001, teams trailing by at least 23 points with six to nine minutes left in the third quarter were 0-190 prior to New England’s miraculous comeback.

So whatever percentages are assigned, it was certainly a Super Bowl longshot win for the ages.

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