Steelers-Chargers Chaos Rattles Las Vegas
So, you think the end of the Steelers-Chargers game Sunday was confusing for people watching at home? The folks in Las Vegas had it worse -- far worse.
"It was chaos," the prominent professional handicapper Ted Sevransky told me a few minutes after the dust finally cleared, audibly trying to catch his breath. "I've never seen anything like it."
The closing line at most casinos was the Steelers by 4-1/2 points. So even when Pittsburgh's field goal with 15 seconds left changed the score from 10-8 Chargers to 11-10 Steelers, the Chargers were still the winners in Las Vegas, on the betting front. Even a successful Hail Mary from San Diego on its one final play wouldn't change the outcome of those wagers.
But then Philip Rivers threw to LaDainian Tomlinson, who lateraled to Chris Chambers, whose apparent lateral was tipped by Troy Polamalu -- who ran it into the end zone for an apparent Pittsburgh touchdown. All of a sudden it was Steelers 17, Chargers 10. Pittsburgh had covered, 0:00 stood on the clock, and those with Steelers slips went completely berserk.
... In the end, word finally whooshed down Las Vegas Boulevard that, yes, the play was reversed -- that one of the laterals was in fact an illegal forward pass, meaning the ball was dead at that point, regardless of what Polamalu decided to do with it afterward. The final score was 11-10, period, and only those who had Chargers slips could go to the window for their winnings.
"When it comes to the bigger scheme of things, Pittsburgh wins either way," Sevransky said. "It was irrelevant to the outcome. But to the outcome in Las Vegas, you're never going to find more chaos."
FANS THINK FIX WAS IN FOR CHARGERS-STEELERS
We need to start this item off by explaining unequivocally that we don't think that NFL games are fixed. Bad calls happen, but we believe that they're simply that -- bad calls. Human error. We don't buy for a second that there's something more sinister happening.
But we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't point out that we've been flooded by e-mails tonight regarding the perception that the game between the Chargers and the Steelers was in some way fixed.
... The surrounding circumstances won't prompt many/any of the conspiracy theorists to conclude that the outcome of this one was legit. Chairman Dan Rooney is trying to come up with $750 million or so in cash and financing to buy out his brothers. Why? Because the other official family industry is gambling, and those who prefer to profit via games of chance are being required to sell their stake in a team that originally was bought after family patriarch Art Rooney, Sr., had a big run at the track.
Again, we do not believe that the game was rigged, or that anything improper occurred. But what we think doesn't matter; if enough average fans become sufficiently convinced that something improper went down, it becomes a problem for the NFL.