My deepest, sincerest condolences to all of you who bet on the 49ers spread this weekend.
Unless you got in at open — when the Niners were 7.5-point favorites — many of you likely bought in at -8, -8.5, -9 or -9.5. The line shortened precipitously toward San Francisco as Sunday approached.
And it looked solid, so solid, for so long. The Niners went into half with a 31-10 lead and with the -9.5 cover a 96% chance to hit, according to The Action Network’s metrics.
Halfway into the third quarter, the 49ers -9.5 reached a 99% chance to cover after they went up 38-10, and those odds persisted until deep into the final quarter.
Then came the Lions, of all teams.
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Jared Goff and company proceeded to launch a furious comeback to cut a 24-point deficit to eight over a ridiculous two-minute span in which Detroit scored two touchdowns, converted a pair of two-point conversions, executed several massive chunk plays, recovered an onside kick and recovered a fumble.
It started with a drive that finished inside the two-minute warning. Buoyed by two defensive pass interference calls, the Lions marched 86 yards down the field to score and notch a two-point conversion to make it 41-25.
The Niners’ George Kittle — normally the most sure-handed player on the field — then botched an onside kick to give the Lions the ball right back with 1:52 remaining in the fourth.
The Lions got in the end zone within 45 seconds. For Lions +8, +8.5, +9 and +9.5 bettors, this was it.
With Detroit down 10 and San Francisco unlikely to score again, this two-point conversion was the difference — for some bettors — between setting up a college fund or selling plasma next week.
Jared Goff rolled out, with his options limited, then tried to force one in toward the back corner of the end zone. Wide receiver Quintez Cephus reached out and snatched it. But the field judge called him out-of-bounds.
Then, the side judge overruled the call. Cephus got both feet down.
41-33 Niners. Lions down eight points. There’s your backdoor cover.
There was still a game to be played, though.
The Lions’ second onside kick didn’t work. All San Francisco needed was a first down to finally seal the game.
They got it on 3rd-and-12, and all receiver Deebo Samuel needed to do was go down.
Ball back to Detroit.
Two minutes after Detroit had less than a 0.1% chance of winning this game, the Lions were at the San Francisco 25-yard-line with 34 seconds left and a chance to tie the game.
They didn’t end up converting— that’s the Lions for you. After three botched plays, Goff threw it away harmlessly on 4th-and-9.
But good teams win, great teams cover.