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Bad Beats: Super Bowl Edition

   by Ben Burns - 02/04/2010

The ultimate goal of this masterpiece Bad Beats column is to find out the absolute, most disgusting beat ever to occur in the Super Bowl.

You know there’s some poor sap out there, who laid a chunk of change on a wild prop bet and ended up getting burned by something bizarre. Maybe Shaq missed an uncontested dunk that would have pushed his point total past Laurence Maroney’s total number of receiving yards. Or the halftime show went over its allotted time because some hotshot exposed Janet Jackson’s boob.

Unfortunately, unless of course you are that poor sap, we’ll never get to hear about and laugh at the loser’s expense. So please share your horrific Super Bowl Bad Beat with the rest of us by sending an email. We could all use a good laugh.

In the meantime, here are three of the worst Super Bowl beats we found.

Super Bowl XLII: Pittsburgh Steelers (-6.5, 46.5) vs. Arizona Cardinals: Last year’s classic featured numerous horrendous beats. Some even complained that both the side and total were bad beats in the Steelers thrilling 27-23 victory.

But no one took it up the butt worse than bettors who had Arizona +4 in the first half.

Trailing 10-7 with 18 seconds left before halftime, the Cardinals had the ball first-and-goal at the Steelers’ one.

Kurt Warner threw a quick slant to the left, but was intercepted by James Harrison, who fought off tacklers and rumbled a Super Bowl-record 100 yards for a touchdown as the first half expired. The play was reviewed, and it was close to whether or not Harrison was down before he crossed the goal line. But the play was upheld, sending the Steelers to the locker room with a 17-7 lead and first-half Arizona backers to the doctor’s office for an anal probe.

Super Bowl XIV: Pittsburgh Steelers (-10.5, 36) vs. Los Angeles Rams

In 1980, no one was giving the Rams a chance against the mighty Steelers, who were poised to become the first franchise to win four Super Bowls.

So you know this line was jumping. Our archive has it at -10.5, but there were some 11s and 11.5s out there.

Playing basically at home in the Rose Bowl, the underdog Rams surprised everyone by taking a 13-10 lead into halftime.

A 47-yard touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to Lynn Swan early in the third quarter put the Steelers back ahead.

The Rams answered back on their next drive, scoring on a halfback pass from Lawrence McCutcheon to Ron Smith. But kicker Frank Corrall missed an extra point, keeping the score at a coverable 19-17.

On Pittsburgh’s next two possessions, Bradshaw threw two of his three interceptions, both coming inside L.A. territory. The Rams were unable to capitalize on either turnover, however, and headed into the fourth quarter clinging to the two-point lead.

That lead was erased quickly, with Bradshaw going deep again. This time he hit John Stallworth on a 70-yard touchdown pass, putting the Steelers ahead 24-19, one TD away from covering with 12 minutes to play.

The Rams had two more scoring opportunities inside Steelers territory, but came up empty on both drives. The first ended with quarterback Vince Ferragamo, who had outplayed Bradshaw to this point, throwing his only interception of the game.

The Steelers capitalized on the turnover, marching to the Rams’ 22. Thanks to a controversial pass interference penalty in the end zone, Pittsburgh set up first and goal at the one. On third and goal, Franco Harris plowed in for a covering touchdown with 1:49 to play.

The Rams threatened for a late backdoor cover on their ensuing drive, but ended up turning the ball over on downs at the Steeler 37.

Final score: Steelers 31, Rams 19.

Super Bowl XL: Pittsburgh (-4) vs. Seattle

Has there ever been a worse officiated game in any sport?

From the Steelers’ first touchdown to a defensive player being called for an illegal block, this game was filled with controversial calls and plenty of just absolute bad ones.

The vast majority of them went against the Seahawks, who still can be heard whining today. Some say the abundance of bad calls caused then Seattle coach Mike Holmgren to resign from the rules committee.

Pittsburgh benefitted from an extremely questionable offensive pass interference penalty that negated a Darrell Jackson touchdown catch in the first quarter.

Right before half, Ben Roethlisberger scored the Steelers’ first touchdown of the game on a 3rd-and-1 from the goal line. But some replays seemed to show Roethlisberger may have been down for breaking the plane with the ball. It was close and the play stood to put Pittsburgh up 7-3 at halftime.

Early in the fourth quarter, the Seahawks, trailing 14-10, moved inside the Steelers’ 30 yard line. But Matt Hasselbeck was intercepted by Ike Taylor at the Pittsburgh 5. During the return, Hasselbeck, was called for an illegal block, while trying to make his way over to tackle Taylor, adding 15 more yards to the return. Three plays later, Antwaan Randle El threw a reverse pass to Hines Ward for a 43-yard touchdown. The NFL Director of Officiating Mike Pereira later admitted that call was wrong and should not have been made.

Those are just three of the controversial calls from Super Bowl XL that ended with the Steelers covering, 21-10.

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