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Oddsmaker: A half-billion changed hands on MNF blown call

9:39 AM, Sep 25, 2012   |    comments
Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate (81) holds on to the game-winning touchdown as time expires against the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field. Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Charly Martin (14) and Green Bay Packers cornerback Jarrett Bush (24) and Green Bay Packers strong safety M.D. Jennings (43) look for an officials call. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE
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As soon as replacement official Lance Easley's hands shot into the air, signaling a touchdown that snatched victory from the Green Bay Packers and awarded it to the Seattle Seahawks on Monday night, a half-billion dollars changed hands, said oddsmaker Marc Lawrence of playbook.com.

"Conservatively, around $250 million are usually wagered with legal and offshore sports books on a Monday night game," Lawrence said. "Add in what is wagered by the general public with their local book, and that total amount is around a half-billion dollars.

"And when they called 'touchdown,' it took the money from people who had bet the Packers and gave it to the people who had bet the Seahawks."

Lawrence's point: Even if you had bet the Seahawks, just before the final snap, you were losing that bet.

The Seahawks won 14-12 on the last play of the game when Packers safety M.D. Jennings appeared to intercept a last-gasp pass into the end zone. But officials, led by Easley, the side judge, ruled the ball was simultaneously caught by receiver Golden Tate, by rule giving the Seahawks a controversial victory on a blown call so blatant and egregious that it could force an end to the lockout of the regular officials.

Replays clearly showed Jennings had possession of the ball, and fans, media and Packers players immediately set Twitter on fire with comments that ripped the obviously mistake. Packers guard T.J. Lang tweeted: "Got (bleeped) by the refs ... Embarrassing. Thanks nfl."

Dave Mason, NFL manager at betonline.com, said "the replacement refs will be the clear losers" and he said "the integrity of the game" is now in the hands of NFL team owners, who must demand an end to a lockout that has turned the league into a farce.

Before the final play, the Packers led 12-7, covering the 3½-point spread. But with the Hail Mary touchdown, that cover was erased, and the Seahawks, a home underdog, and their backers, were in the money. Lawrence believes the bizarre finish will end the dragged-out bickering over pensions and other economic and non-economic issues.

"If a half-billion dollars can't get (commissioner) Roger Goodell's attention, what will?" Lawrence said.

But don't feel bad for the sports books. They made out like bandits, Lawrence said, because he estimates that 70% of the money wagered Monday night was on the Packers and their gunslinger quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"The Packers giving 3½ points? Most bettors thought they were getting the Packers cheap," Lawrence said. "So, the Packers are crying, but the books are laughing."

And one more thing: TheSeahawks became another home underdog to beat the spread under the replacement refs. To date, home underdogs are 12-7 straight-up and an amazing 13-5-1 against the spread, Lawrence said.

If there's a bright side to the colossal goof, Lawrence said, it's this: It occurred in a prime-time game with the nation watching, and wasn't lost among several 1 p.m. games on a Sunday.

"This will help us get rid of these refs," Lawrence said. "And we need to get rid of them."

by Kevin Manahan

USA Today

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