About a week before Super Bowl XLVI, Bill Barnwell, formerly of Football Outsiders and lately of Grantland, addressed betting on a safety occurring. He wrote "Betting "No" here, even at -1300, is one of the best prop bets you can make this year."
In their own "Prop Bet Extravaganza," Mike Kurtz and Tom Gower of Football Outsiders, apparently didn't even think the safety bet was worth mentioning. And these guys allotted ample space to discussing the wagers available on Madonna's hair color and choice of head gear during the Super Bowl halftime show.
But, according to both Deadspin and National Football Post, at least one guy went ahead and bet that there would be a safety in the Super Bowl. Even worse, at least it would have seemed, his bet specified that the Giants would be the team to score the safety and that it would account for the first two points of the game.
Did anyone else have this bet?
The Patriots made Super Bowl history on the very first play of their very first possession of the game.. but it wasn't the history they probably wanted to make. Pinned on his own 6-yard line, Tom Brady dropped back to pass, under heavy pressure from the Giants' front four. Just as Justin Tuck got into the backfield and almost sacked the Patriots star, Brady launched a pass deep down the center of the field. The ball soared through the air and hit the ground near midfield, but no Patriots receiver was in the area.
The referees briefly looked at each other as Brady got up and one threw a flag for intentional grounding since he hadn't left the pocket. Because he let go of the ball in the end zone, the play resulted in a safety.
The only other Super Bowl to open with a safety was Super Bowl IX, when Pittsburgh's Dwight White sacked Minnesota quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the end zone in the second quarter. It was only the sixth safety in Super Bowl history and according to Las Vegas Hotel & Casino, the odds of the first score being a grand total of two points were 100 to 1.
"It is a referee's judgment call," Brady said after the game about the call. "I was looking down the middle of the field and (Justin) Tuck was looking to come get me and I tried to get rid of it. The referee made the call."
The Patriots could have used those two points late in the game, as the Giants would go on to win 21-17. But New England had a chance to win the game after allowing Ahmad Bradshaw to score what would be the game-winning touchdown so they could get the ball back with a minute left. Had the Pats not given up those two points, the game may have come down to a field goal at the end.
But who likes playing the "what if" game? Well, probably the sort of person who wagered on that safety.