The New England Patriots had their chances Sunday. Many of them. So did the Dallas Cowboys, with the latter ultimately receiving the last, best chance.
Dallas outlasted New England in overtime 31-25 in what was one of the best games we’ve seen through six weeks of the 2021 NFL season. Dak Prescott put the exclamation point on a history-making performance when he hooked up with CeeDee Lamb for a walk-off overtime touchdown.
In the process, Prescott, Lamb and the Cowboys cost sportsbooks a whole bunch of money, as bettors were on the publicly backed Dallas team, and that touchdown — instead of a field goal — helped cover a 3.5-point spread.
That touchdown, however, was just one of many game-changing, momentum-swinging plays throughout the game. Both teams had their chances to win and put away the game, only to see their opponent swing back with an equally forceful blow. The result, in addition to the thrilling finish, were these wild win probability charts that illustrated just how back-and-forth the game was.
As you can see, things got especially wild in the second half, with Lamb’s first touchdown giving Dallas nearly a 75% chance of winning the game. That score, coming with Dallas trailing 14-10, also flipped the live odds. The Cowboys, according to Sports Betting Dime, were +105 on the live moneyline to begin the drive. When Lamb hauled in the 1-yard score, that live odds flipped dramatically with Dallas going to -245.
The Patriots answered with a TD of their own, but even with the lead, Dallas remained the in-game betting favorite with more than 6 minutes to erase a one-point lead. Where the game got especially drunk, however, was on the next two plays. The first, of course, was Trevon Diggs’ 43-yard pick-six that ultimately gave the Cowboys a six-point lead and made Dallas a massive -380 favorite on the live line.
That line got flipped on its head moments later when the Patriots responded on the very next play from scrimmage with a 75-yard touchdown from Mac Jones to Kendrick Bourne. That score made New England — previously +290 underdogs — new -180 favorites to win the game.
Once again, though, the win probability chart showed its volatility as Dallas survived some precarious spots in the hurry-up to eventually kick the game-tying field goal.
The Patriots actually won the coin toss to begin overtime, although even after receiving the ball, both teams were -115 to win. Dallas eventually regained possession and marched downfield to score the game-winning touchdown.
That the Cowboys were able to score the TD and not just kick the field goal is a slight anomaly of its own, but that’s a story for a different day.