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Bad Beats

   by Ben Burns - 12/09/2009

The time to bet big moneyline underdogs in the NFL is now.

The season is taking its toll on teams. Injuries are mounting, equalizing the talent gaps between the haves and have not.

The defending champion Steelers have lost four straight. The Chiefs and Raiders are responsible for half of that streak. Will the Browns make it five in a row Thursday?

Without a doubt, ballsy bettors willing to play a few big moneyline underdogs have made some coin in recent weeks. The Redskins should have added to their winnings on Sunday.

Washington was +350 at home against the unbeaten Saints. It was just the kind of game teams with nothing to play for relish.

After last Monday night’s ultra-impressive rout of the Patriots, a letdown seemed very possible for the Saints, who also were missing three of their top four defensive backs.

The Redskins, on the other hand, were getting Albert Haynesworth back and had been playing better football as of late. Taking Washington +9.5 was a great bet and playing the ‘Skins on the moneyline certainly had some value. It should have paid off, but, instead, the Saints skipped out of D.C. at 12-0 after a game they had no business winning.

Despite seemingly every single break going against them, the Redskins controlled the game from the opening kickoff. They built a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and were seconds away from going into halftime with at least a seven-point lead.

Then, things started going wrong.

After the Redskin defense forced a three-and-out, Saints punter Thomas Morestead shanked a punt. This thing was ugly, so ugly, that it doinked Redskins defender Kevin Barnes in the back. The Saints recovered at Washington’s 41.

The Saints’ offense again went nowhere, and Drew Brees was picked off by Kareem Moore with 30 seconds to play. But Saints’ receiver Robert Meachem snuck up on Moore on his return, stole the ball out his hands and raced 44 yards for a tying touchdown. To make things worse for Redskin backers, replays showed that Moore should have been ruled down by contact directly after the interception. The play was reviewed but not overturned.

To the Redskins’ credit, they didn’t fold after the fluky ending to the first half and re-established themselves as the better team in the second half. Washington led 30-23 with three minutes to play and had the ball, first-and-goal at the Saints’ four. The Redskins failed to punch it in, but at least forced the Saints to use their last timeout. And, with less than two minutes to play, making it a two-possession game with a 23-yard, chip-shot field goal was really just as valuable as a touchdown.

The only thing you can’t do it is miss it. Whoops.

Shaun Suisham, who had already made a 28- and 21-yard field goal, missed wide right, giving the Saints the ball with 1:52 to play.

In just 33 seconds, Brees led the Saints down the field and hit Meachem on a 53-yard touchdown pass to tie the score at 30-30 with 1:19 to play. (How do you get beat deep when protecting a seven-point lead in the final minute?)

On the ensuing drive, the Redskins moved inside Saints territory and needed only 10 or so more yards to get into field goal position and give Suisham a chance at redemption. But quarterback Jason Campbell threw a bad interception on first down at the Saints 45.

The bad breaks kept coming in overtime for the Redskins, who won the toss, but ended up turning the ball over on another call from the replay booth.

On the opening drive of overtime, Campbell hit Mike Sellers out of the backfield for a short gain. The ball popped out and was originally called an incompletion. After a lengthy booth review, officials overturned the call and gave the Saints the football at Washington’s 37.

Brees drove the Saints down to the one, setting up Garrett Hartley for the winning field goal. Final score: New Orleans 33, Washington 30.

It was the fourth straight cover for the Redskins, but a painful bad beat for anyone who had the Saints on the moneyline.

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