By Matt Youmans
VSiN senior editor
On the brink of getting blown out in the Super Bowl, Tom Brady rallied New England to a thrilling finish, driving for a touchdown and 2-point conversion in the final minute to force the first overtime game in Super Bowl history that finished with the Patriots winning, 34-28.
The overtime proposition cashed at plus-525 — or as high as plus-700 — much to the dismay of Las Vegas bookmakers.
The Falcons, up 28-3 early in the third quarter, could not close the deal. Call it a super comeback or a super choke. James White won it with a 2-yard run, capping the Patriots’ improbable revival with 31 unanswered points.
The Patriots closed as 3-point favorites and minus-137 on the money line at the South Point. The total closed 57 after peaking at 59½ early last week.
“We certainly didn’t want New England to win by three, and not because of wins or losses, but because we didn’t want to refund everybody,” Westgate sports book director Jay Kornegay said. "I can't believe it."
The action in Las Vegas was nonstop from Sunday morning through the evening, with standing-room-only crowds in sports books all around the Strip. If anyone went home early, that was a big mistake.
South Point oddsmaker Jimmy Vaccaro predicted the wagering handle will “smash the record" of $132.5 million that was bet in Nevada on last year’s game.
"A memorable result for a memorable handle," said Vinny Magliulo, a Las Vegas bookmaker and VSiN analyst.
The best result for the South Point, sports book director Chris Andrews said, was New England and over the total.
"It was not looking good," Andrews said. "I've still got a hole in my stomach. I have to let this sink in for a while."
The books are expected to show a win for the game. But some key props and teasers were losers for the books.
The money-line price on Atlanta peaked at minus-3,500 (bet $3,500 to win $100) during in-game wagering.
MGM Resorts sports book director Jay Rood said he was seeing more bets than ever in the $200,000 to $400,000 range, including one for $485,000 on the Patriots minus-3.
The largest reported bet so on the game? A $1 million wager on Atlanta plus-3 at CG Technology sports books. Now that's a bad beat.
“A lot of big props were not going our way,” Kornegay said.
Here’s a review of several key prop decisions:
Team to commit the first turnover: The Patriots (plus-110) coughed up the first turnover when running back LeGarrette Blount fumbled early in the second quarter.
Total sacks in the game by Falcons defense: Over 1½ at minus-150 cashed with ease. Brady was sacked twice in the first half and five times by the fourth quarter.
The player to score the first touchdown was Falcons running back Devonta Freeman on a second-quarter run. Freeman was getting 8-1 odds.
Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown? Brady tossed a second-quarter pick-six to cash the “Yes” at plus-170.
Atlanta led 21-0, putting the largest lead of the game over 14½ at minus-160, which also cashed the prop on either team scoring three unanswered times (yes, minus-230). In fact, New England scored five times in a row to close the game.
Will the Patriots convert a fourth-down play? In desperation mode, Brady completed a pass to convert a fourth down to cash at plus-145.
Will there be a missed extra point kick? Stephen Gostkowski shanked a kick in the third quarter to cash at plus-330.
Will there be a successful 2-point conversion? The Patriots converted two of them at plus-200, including Brady’s pass to Danny Amendola to tie the game at 28 with 57 seconds left.
Brady was suspended when the season started. New England finished 16-3 against the spread, the best ATS mark in league history.
The night ended with the awkward Lombardi Trophy presentation for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who had to hand it over to Patriots owner Robert Kraft.
Brady was the favorite to win Most Valuable Player, and Brady cashed after the leading the largest comeback in Super Bowl history.