BAD BEATS: NFL WEEK 5

BY ADAM GREENE

I’m sure, after watching the Indianapolis Colts surrender a 22-3 lead to the Baltimore Ravens thanks to a kicker who couldn’t even kick a divot out of the turf Monday night, some of you, if you’re Colts fans or Ravens haters, took that personally.

I get it. It was a monumental comeback for the Ravens or an epic meltdown by the Colts, but it wasn’t a Bad Beat. Baltimore was favored by -7 to -7.5 most places and you know, if you’d laid your cash on the Ravens, that money was gone regardless of how the game ended as soon the clock hit zeroes on the third quarter.

And while Indy didn’t have to psychologically deal with losing until Lamar Jackson hit Marquise Brown for a five yard touchdown in overtime, you (the bettor) had already dealt with it emotionally. Math was your arch enemy, a nemesis that had already tripped you up worse than one of Carson Wentz’s bad ankles.

So, no, that wasn’t the Bad Beat of the Week. It was rough, sure, but if you’re a Colts fan who likes to bet on your own team, you at least get to count a nice stack to make up for watching your favorite squad asphyxiate away a 19 point lead over 30 minutes of football. You were in the opposite boat as the Ravens bettors. Your money was already in hand, regardless of how many legs your kicker lost on the night.

The Bad Beat happened Sunday afternoon as the Cleveland Browns fell 47-42 to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium in a game that probably cemented Justin Herbert as an NFL Superstar and Baker Mayfield as one of the guys they’ll interview about Herbert when the Chargers QB is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Both teams were in similar territory, 3-1, but Cleveland had won three straight. Los Angeles had already shown they could be slowed down, held to just 17 points by the Dallas Cowboys. They hadn’t faced a pass rush like the Browns can unleash. Cleveland was a weird punt fiasco against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1 away from being 4-0. Everyone’s talking up Herbert. No one is thinking about Mayfield outside of his Progressive Commercials. This was the time to strike.

So you laid down your bet with the thought that you’d sneak a pilgrimage to Dollywood, the theme park named, owned and operated by none other than Dolly Parton herself. Early fall is the perfect time to go. There are no lines because all the kids are in school and you and your partner can just ride the Blazing Fury 10 times in a row if you want. No snot nosed child of some COVID-19 zombie can stop you. They’re too busy dodging sneezes from their maskless unvaccinated Tennessee teachers.

Not you guys. You’re vaxxed. Got your boosters scheduled. You are ready to hit the Dragon Flier before you try your best not to vomit on the Dizzy Disk. The spread was Chargers -2.5, so the Browns probably needed to win. It was time for Cleveland to make the next logical step. After all, they were two years ahead of LA, right? Right?

And that’s exactly the way they looked in the first half as Cleveland took a 20-13 lead into the locker room. This was a postseason team, experienced from the year before. A team that knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers in the playoffs, an upset heard round the league announcing that Mayfield was more than just a pitchman and the Browns were to be reckoned with.

When Cleveland went up 27-13 on its first possession of the second half, you started planning which country music performances you’d enjoy in between goes on the Mystery Mine. Maybe Harmonies of the Heart, a holiday themed show featuring not one, but two of Dolly’s own nieces; Heidi Lou and Jada Star? Dolly’s cousin Shelly’s in it too! It’s the next best thing that seeing Dolly. Hell, Dolly lives close by with her husband Carl Dean. Sometimes she just shows up and hangs out!

The Chargers were too good to be out of it, but you weren’t concerned about points right now. You needed a Cleveland victory and you were getting it until the fourth quarter when Herbert hit Mike Williams on a 42 yard touchdown that Cleveland had no business giving up. Williams was so alone on the play, the only explanation for it was that he had access to some kind of Predator invisibility technology.

But you were still good. It was Chargers -2.5, you remembered. They led by one, 28-27. When Mayfield answered back with a bomb of his own to David Njoku 71 yards later Cleveland was back ahead and you started perusing the Fall menu, looking real hard at that Balsamic Honey and Mustard Pork Chop served with roasted root vegetables.

LA tied the game up on an 11 play drive and you were nervous then. A field goal for the Chargers to win it would cost you, but the Browns once again answered, this time on the ground with Kareem Hunt capping the drive with an eight yard touchdown.

Los Angeles scored again, just as quick, but failed on the two-point try. You now had all the buffer you’d need. Cleveland was up 42-41. Even if the Chargers kicked the winning field goal, you’d still win your bet by half a point.

You started to feel silly, thinking about a pork chop when you were going to be in Tennessee. At Dollywood for God’s sake. Of course you’ll be heading to Hickory House BBQ for a loaded pork sandwich. Hell, maybe you’d just eat both.

Cleveland punted on their next possession and set the stage, with two minutes to go, for you to be listening to the bluegrass stylings of the Smoky Mountain String Band while you were working on your third funnel cake of the day. LA had every intention of driving down to kick the winning field goal as time expired. You could already feel the wind whipping through your hair on the Tennessee Tornado.

Only they didn’t get to kick a field goal. Cleveland wouldn’t let them, with their defense pulling Austin Ekeler into the end zone for a touchdown with 1:31 to go. It was the smart football move, giving the Browns a chance with the ball and plenty of time on the clock.

It was time for Mayfield to deliver the signature come from behind victory against a good team that would define his career. This was the moment, the one that people would talk about 15 years from now, where he became more than a game manager. He became the franchise.

And with that moment at hand, Mayfield ran eight plays, wasted nearly all the time on the clock and turned the ball over on downs without even hitting midfield.

There would be no BBQ, no pork chop, no indoor roller coasters through a 50 year-old robotic puppet infested town on fire. You would not see Dolly’s cousin, nieces or Dolly herself.

You would watch it all fall to the ground, like a toddler dropping their Blue Ribbon chocolate ice cream cone to the ground while hopping on the Piggy Parade.

The NFL season is rolling along and the Week 6 Schedule is up and taking bets at BetOnline.AG.

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