Sports betting is a cruel, fickle mistress. One day, you’re elated after hitting a two-game parlay, the next you lose all your money plus your dog and your firstborn. It’s an emotional rollercoaster that either goes off the rails or ends in thrilling excitement, begging winners to return.
Well, last night was probably one of the worst nights bettors have ever endured.
The first, and most obvious reason, was the over/under for this game. Bettors flocked to hit the under, which was set at 40 points on most online sites at the beginning of the week — 40.5 early on, on others. The under was bet so hard that the line actually moved down to as low as 37.5 on some sites. For some context, a two-and-a-half-point change in either direction is huge.
Those bettors who had faith in the under at the beginning of the week were elated to see the score at 23-17 prior to the last play, 40 total points, a push, or a win if you had 40.5. They were really loving that missed Cade York PAT at that point, I’m certain. Sure, Pittsburgh was pinned at its own four-yard line, so a safety wasn’t out of the question, but after Mitch Trubisky got his pass off to Diontae Johnson, bettors felt safe. They were likely jumping for joy. Johnson was basically at the 18. There was no way he’d walk back to the end zone, right? Well, he didn’t, but after a lateral to Chase Claypool and another lateral to Najee Harris, the ball found its way back into the Steeler end zone. No matter who pounced on top of the fumble — it was cornerback Denzel Ward — under bettors were down bad. The Browns ended up with a touchdown. That was the only turnover of the game.
Here’s that play:
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What makes it even more painful is that the Browns had a chance to put the game away one possession earlier in the waning minutes. On a third-down-run play to Nick Chubb, refs signaled a first down, which would have essentially ended the game. But hold on! Steelers coach Mike Tomlin challenged the spot and won. The Browns then sent out their punt team, pinning the Steelers within their own five. Brutal.
That brings me to my next point. Bettors seemed inclined on betting against Mitch Trubisky in this game. The most popular bet of the week, in terms of total bettors, was Trubisky INTs over 0.5. The most popular bet of the week, in terms of money, was Trubisky under 207.5 yards passing. The money was so heavy in favor of the passing under that it actually shifted to 192.5 by the start of Thursday Night Football.
Surely, Trubisky, a trash QB in Chicago now sent to replace the ghost of Ben Roethlisberger would throw an interception this game. Denzel Ward, Greg Newsome, Grant Delpit — one of them was sure to catch one of Trubisky’s errant passes. However, as the night went on, Trubisky never even really threw an interceptable pass. The closest came with 2:27 left in the fourth quarter. Trubisky took a massive shot to the end zone for George Pickens. Pickens, who’d already made a spectacular catch on the night, stepped in front of his defender and seemingly had a beat on the ball, but could only reach out one hand to try to reel it in. He didn’t. Instead, he knocked the ball up in the air. The corner covering Pickens dove to catch the ball and flipped forward, all while keeping it secure. Based on the camera angle, it looked possible that we just witnessed one of the greatest interceptions of all-time the same night we witnessed one of the greatest catches of all time. However, the corner’s right foot was ever-so-slightly out of bounds, and the Trubisky interception under bettors collectively let out a massive sigh and poured themselves a glass of their finest scotch.
Then there’s the under 192.5 passing yards. There wasn’t a horrible beat for too many people on that. While the over 207.5 bettors probably had a tough time after Diontae Johnson ran backward after catching that last pass — meaning he could’ve had about three extra yards if he just laid down after making the catch, which would’ve put Trubisky at 210 for the day and hit the over — it doesn’t seem that too many people were betting on the over. Under bettors still had a rough day though. How?
After three quarters, Trubisky only had 133 passing yards after three quarters. The Steelers signal-caller needed 60 passing yards in order for over 192.5 to hit.
Fourth quarter woes
The fourth quarter has always been the toughest quarter for Trubisky. For his career, Trubisky has a 59.47 completion percentage in the fourth and a passer rating of 76.3 — both of which are his lowest for any quarter. Trubisky also struggles when his team is losing. When behind, Trubisky completes 61.2 percent of his passes and has a passer rating of 78.4. His yards per attempt also go down in both situations. When Trubisky is winning, his yards per attempt sits at 7.2. When tied, it’s 6.6. When trailing, it falls to 6.2. Meanwhile, in the fourth quarter, Trubisky’s yards per attempt fall from 7.0, 6.5, and 7.3 in the first, second, and third respectively, to just 5.9. When trailing with less than four minutes to go in a game, Trubisky’s career completion percentage is 58.04 percent. His passer rating is 76.9, and his yards per attempt is 5.9.
Playing over his head
Under passing yards bettors were in a prime position to watch Trubisky flounder. He didn’t though. Trubisky passed for 74 yards, almost all of which came on the Steelers’ penultimate drive. Prior to that drive, the Pittsburgh quarterback had only gone 1-of-4 for 7 yards in the fourth quarter. On that third drive of the fourth quarter, something snapped in Trubisky. He started using his tight end, Pat Freiermuth. Prior to that drive, Freiermuth had only seen one target all game. After a 13-yard gain by Diontae Johnson on the first play, Trubisky found Freiermuth on two consecutive plays for gains of 26 and 15. All of a sudden, Trubisky’s passing yardage had shot up from 140 to 194. The over had officially hit in the span of three plays, or just 27 seconds of game time.
For his career, Trubisky has never had a season where he’s averaged over 60 passing yards in the fourth quarter. Trubisky has always needed a perfect storm in order for him to throw for more than 60 yards in the fourth, yet in a game where the wind was strong enough to push field goal attempts wide right. Trubisky managed to pull it off. That’s gotta hurt.
Oh, there was one more. Claypool’s receiving yardage total of 35.5 went from being a lock at 41 yards before that final play — when Johnson lateralled him the ball — to a loss at 35 yards after it. Ugh.
Basically, last night was a cesspool of unfortunate events for bettors across the nation. If you see your football fan co-worker or relative looking glum this morning, make sure you let them know how bad a beat they stumbled into. It sucks, but it happens. It just so happened to happen a lot last night.