Update: See the "official" live SportsCenter response below. If you were one of the NFL fans waiting in the fading late afternoon light for the San Diego Chargers to be put out of their misery yesterday, you may have seen a rather unusual ending to the game at Heinz Field. With his team already ahead by one, Pittsburgh's Troy Polamalu intercepted a pathetic attempt at a miracle play and scored an exclamation point touchdown as time expired. Even though the clock read zero and there was no other possible outcome to the game than a Steelers victory, the referees kept everyone on the field for several minutes to launch an automatic review of the play, called a phantom penalty that did not happen—officials admitted after the game that the call was incorrect—and took the touchdown off the scoreboard. Not a huge deal, until you remember that the Steelers were five-point favorites and reversal meant that they went from not covering the spread to covering and back again thanks to a shady replay review on an otherwise pointless play. Hey ... that's why they call it gambling, right? But when you look a little closer at the situation from Vegas' perspective, there does seem to be an unpleasant odor in the air.
"An estimated 100 million dollars was wagered worldwide on the Pittsburgh/San Diego game, according to RJ Bell of Pregame.com. Approximately 66% of that money was on the Steelers; with only 34% on the Chargers. "If the touchdown was properly upheld, Steelers bettors would have won about 32 million dollars instead of losing big. This admittedly incorrect call resulted in a 64 million dollar swing in favor of the bookies." [Emphasis added.]
Of course, in the fantasy world of NFL-related telecasts gambling does not exist, so this point will likely go mostly unchallenged on your TV screens this week. (Bob Costas did mention the betting line in passing on Sunday Night Football, but I did not see that. Anyone have a clip?) Plus, the reversal meant the first 11-10 final score in the entire history of the NFL. Surely that makes up for the two large you owe your bookie, right? Bookies Win Millions, Bettors Lose on Bad Steelers Call [Pregame.com] If the NFL Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It [Stock Lemon] Point Spread Talk Taboo on Broadcasts; Nantz and Costas Avoid the "G"-word* [Scott's Shots] UPDATE: So apparently this controversy is so great that ESPN pretty much has no choice but to at least acknowledge the impact this call had on the betting world. But very carefully. Listen as Hannah Storm and Josh Elliott play dumb in order to appease The Goodell. Come on, Josh!