Tim Tebow’s stunning 80-yard overtime touchdown pass sent shockwaves through the sports and social media world, but the biggest cheer may have come from every sports book director’s office in Las Vegas.
The Steelers were favored by 8½-points, so the books had already won most of the bets heading into overtime, but by knocking out all the teasers, they cleaned up almost everything that was left on the table from bettors waiting for the final game to be posted.
“The entire weekend rested with Denver,” said Lucky’s sports book director Jimmy Vaccaro. “It was the only game we won of the four, but it was the biggest one of them all.”
The Steelers-Broncos game was the most heavily bet of the weekend, just as most of the late Sunday playoff games are due to having more time to wager on them. But the liability from the first three games – where the favorites all won and covered – was pretty outstanding.
“We were able to knock out most of the extended parlay and teaser risk from the earlier games,” Vaccaro said.
Most sports books around town had the same type of powder keg risk waiting to explode with most of the public money laying the points with the Steelers, although late sharp money came in on Denver pushing the game down to -7½.
Vaccaro hasn’t been one to go over the top with Tebow accolades, but the circumstances of where his sports book was risk-wise created new feelings.
“Today, he was my man,” Vaccaro said.
Almost everyone in the media has been writing Tebow off as a pro quarterback with suggestions that Denver should ship him to Jacksonville while they could still get fair value for him. Vaccaro, however, noted some positive changes in Tebow’s game compared to past weeks.
“He played very well. His passes were crisper and he fought back when it looked like momentum had changed.”
Prior to Tebow saving the sports books, it was shaping up to be an awful weekend. The combination of the Texans (-4) beating the Bengals, the Saints (-10½) beating the Lions and the total flying OVER 59 points jump started bettors to quite a few successful three-team parlays (6-to-1 odds).
In typical public betting fashion, they also went for a few bombs with those games tied into Sunday where the most popular wager was the NY Giants and Steelers. Four, five and six-team parlays were just simmering and waiting for another poor Tebow performance like his previous two weeks, but betting can’t ever be that easy, and it wasn’t.
This week Tebow will have another tough task as the competition gets stiffer. You wouldn’t think it could get tougher than playing the league’s No. 1 defense, but now he’ll have to face the No. 2 offense at New England, who the LVH Super Book opened as 13½-point favorites.
The Saints opened as 3-point favorites at San Francisco, but has quickly been bet to -3½. The Ravens opened as 7-point favorites against the Texans and have been bet up to -7½. The total in the Ravens game dropped 3 points from the opener down to 35½.
The late Sunday game figures to have the most action of the week with the Giants getting the first large early action at Green Bay. The Packers opened up as 9-point favorites and are now down to -8½.
Tebow by demand
I’m not sure if it’s because Tebow has had so many doubters or because many of us see some of ourselves in him, but that mounting publicity he got from winning in miraculous ways during the regular season has just been blown up into super-size.
Beating the No. 1 defense and defending AFC Champions in a playoff game will do that, I suppose.
But it’s not like he’s the first player to ever persevere and win a playoff game. It’s almost as if he’s elevated to higher status because he’s not a good thrower, but rather just simply a good football player who creates wonderful moments despite his deficiencies.
We all have things we’re not good at or have been told we can’t do something despite desires. So when we see Tebow, I think some of us do see something within ourselves and root for him.
Mix in some faith, good looks and a genuine personality, and you’ve got the perfect combination for a person most mothers would let their daughter’s date. And I think it’s that cross-over audience that has made him so popular and disliked at the same time.
When Lady Gaga starts sending out ‘Wow!’ tweets with his name on it, then you really know you have crossed over into another realm of popularity beyond football.
After three less than stellar games in a row heading into the playoffs, John Elway told his young quarterback “to be more aggressive and pull the trigger.”
Tebow responded with multiple big plays down field as the Steelers tried to stack the box, daring the kid who everyone says can’t throw the ball, to beat them deep, and he did.
A heavenly 316
It was interesting to see that Tebow’s stat-line even does some preaching. He finished with 316 yards passing with an average completion of 31.6. It’s not quite John 3:16, but Elway and coach John Fox were on the field.
Reunion of sorts
When Josh McDaniels drafted Demaryius Thomas and Tim Tebow in the first round of the 2010 NFL draft, he did so with intentions that the two collegiate stars would be the future hook-up and lead the team to many future playoff games.
However, little did he know he would be on the opposing sidelines watching the duo in the playoffs this Saturday night in New England. McDaniels was hired by Bill Belichick to assist the offense with coordinator Bill O’Brien who was recently hired by Penn State to run their football program.
McDaniels was widely criticized for drafting Tebow so early, but always had a feeling there was a place for him in pro football. Thomas, drafted just before Tebow in the first round, caught four passes for 204 yards and the game winning touchdown to beat the Steelers on Sunday. Surely, McDaniels has to feel somewhat vindicated. But if there is anyone who may know Tebow’s and Thomas’ weaknesses more, it may be McDaniels. Leave it to Belichick, who always has something up his sleeve to gain any edge for all opponents.
After watching the Bills and Chiefs have success against Tebow in man-coverage, the Steelers thought they had the perfect blue-print laid out for them to be successful. But in the end, following it led to the Steelers downfall.
Ike Taylor, a very good NFL corner, was left alone on most routes and found himself with little help against Thomas. Unlike the last two games, Tebow was on target and showed that cheating safeties to stop the run might not always work.
In hindsight, I believe the Steelers defense is much better than they showed and if they could it over again would likely follow their own lead that ranked them No. 1.