The 49ers made one last play at the end of Thursday Night Football to make every bettor with money on them to cover the spread breathe a bit easier … then they took it back.
The team had the Seattle Seahawks pinned deep in their own end with less than a minute to go in the game and the Seahawks needing a touchdown to tie it. Then, on 4th and 17 from the four yard line, Seahawks quarterback Russel Wilson completed a 16-yard pass. The completion fell short of making a first down, and a penalty on one of the Seahawks’ linemen also awarded a safety to the 49ers.
But instead of taking the two points, which would have pushed the 49ers over the spread, head coach Jim Harbaugh decided to decline the penalty and take the ball. The 49ers took a knee and the game was over, but for gamblers the hurt was just beginning.
“I have never seen that,” tweeted longtime Las Vegas bookmaker Jay Kornegay, who now runs the race and sports book at the Las Vegas Hotel and Casino. “Crazy to see that with the cover on the line.”
Not everyone was crushed, ESPN notes. Those lucky enough to bet on Seattle were cheering at Las Vegas sports books.
This is the second time this season that a late-night football game has rocked the gambling world, and, for the second time, it involved the Seattle Seahawks. In Week 3, the victory replacement refs awarded the Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers on a contested Hail Mary also created a major shift for bettors who had picked Seattle to win against the spread.
“This game was just as much of a swing, if not more,” said John Avello, head of the race and sports book for the Wynn in Las Vegas.
Harbaugh likely cares little how the 49ers affected gambling. His team was able to eke out a win and keep hold of the division lead in the NFC West. As ESPN’s Mike Sando notes, the win is enough.